Too many people allow their training to fall stale leading to plateaus, the dreaded brick wall some fail to ever smash down. Much of this comes down to a lack of variation and the introduction of new ideas. Yes, repetition is a fundamental part of training when looking to develop your physique but don’t go around in circles like a broken record, switch it up! In case you were wondering how to, here are 7 quick fire ways you can spice up your workouts!
1 – Rep Tempo
There is no set rule that you HAVE to follow the same rep tempo every workout, in fact there is scope for a ‘’rule’’ which says quite the opposite. Alternating your rep tempo every week on a 3-4 week cycle can work wonders. Try using negative (eccentric) phases anywhere between 1-4 seconds, isometrics anywhere between 1-3 seconds and concentric phases anywhere between 0-2 seconds! Mix it up!
2 – The 1.5 rule
This simply states that instead of going straight in for another rep, do half a rep after every rep! This provides the opportunity to place a great deal more tension on the target muscle fibres leading to improved stimulation. Great tool to have in the box!
3 – Cables
One of the best training variables I have grown to champion is the use of cables. Cables, unlike free weights allow you to maintain constant tension on the muscle due to the fact they are always PULLING. Free weights are king; however look to use cable exercises as a new avenue to shock the muscles.
4 – Rep Ranges
I am often challenged by people for prescribing rep ranges which appear to be ‘’endurance’’ related rather than ‘’hypertrophy’’ driven. Let’s get it straight, high rep training can work wonders on bringing up muscle groups due to their genetic makeup (slow twitch fibres). Dare to wonder outside of the typical ceiling rep range of ‘’12’’ and see what it does for you. On leg day I am not shy to go for 100 reps on extensions!
5 – Frequency, turn it up!
There is a common misconception within ‘’bodybuilding’’ circles that if you train a muscle within 7 days (7 days precisely!) of the last workout then you will make it disappear overnight due to the ‘’catabolic’’ effects. In reality, this won’t happen. What you can’t afford to do is be a mirror muscle warrior and train your ‘’peacock’’ muscles every workout. However, try training your weaker muscle groups twice a week (calves anyone?). The increased frequency leads to more constant stimulation and is a protocol I have begun to use myself and on clients.
6 – Force it!
Forced reps aren’t something you will all do and that’s fine. However, if you haven’t yet ventured into these territories you are in for a pleasant surprise because there are few ‘’tricks’’ in the gym which can match the results which this variable can deliver. Simply reaching failure on a set and then having a training partner LIGHTLY spot you for a handful more reps is a great way to take the muscles beyond their usual comfort zone. Be warned, this is a sure fire way to get DOMS!
7 – Volume = Tension
If you don’t generally train with a lot of volume then I recommend you have a high volume WEEK at least every 3 weeks. This session is going to be based on getting as many sets done on the target muscle group as possible with steady, controlled, functional form (squeezing the muscle against the resistance through the entire range of motion). Rest periods can be chopped down to 30 seconds between sets, supersets or even giant sets. This will by definition place a greater volume of tension on the target muscle (s).
There are 7 tools you can add to your arsenal in your bid to progress with your physique. Remember, the aim in the gym is to stimulate and to do this you need to vary your angle of attack relatively frequently.