To make progress in bodybuilding, you need to constantly challenge your body, push your muscles to breaking point then when your body starts to get used to it, BANG! give it the shock of it’s life.
Similar workouts not only get boring, but your motivation lapses and your gains taper off which, after 6 months of hard training, can get pretty damn frustrating.
There’s a number of ways you can change the way you train to stop your muscles becoming complacent, here’s a few examples:
Different repetitions and speeds
Even for the big lifter, changing rep speed or radically changing weight can shake your routine up and test your body in different ways. One good way of doing this is making your third set a lighter weight and working to exhaustion, allowing the blood to flow through your muscles easier. Another well-tried route is increasing the weight for each set. Start with a slightly lighter weight and hitting 70-80% failure, then increasing the weight and lifting to failure.
Mix up the weights
Even alternating from machines, to barbell to dumbbell can be a great way of changing your routines. Each method of lifting means lifting in different way and there’s a long list of exercises you can use all 3 on. For example, swapping a bench press machine for a set of dumbbells can radically change how your muscles are used and develop. Likewise, using cables, dumbbells or barbells for bent-over rows should all be utilised during different routines to maximise gains and prevent boredom and fatigue.
Keep a record
OK, it’s not gonna directly mix up your routine, but keeping a record of daily and weekly exercises allows you to focus on what you’ve been doing, and plan for what changes you can make. Planning ahead and writing down routines changes every 6 weeks or so helps you keep focus and keep track of dates, changes and gains, helps you understand what works for you and gives you a great record to look back on for future reference.
As you should know by now, there’s a number of exercises we can utilise for each muscle group. Did I say CAN utilise, I meant SHOULD utilise. Each part of your body you train consists of a number of connected muscle groups, especially the legs and back. The back for example isn’t one big muscle, so why train it in one or two different ways? Sticking to a few tried and tested exercises will severely limit growth and leave you confused as to why your gains have tapered off to nothing. It will also leave you with bad symmetry and body shape as you might only be training one part of your muscle e.g. using the bench press and ignoring the incline press might just leave you with droopy man-tits…
Here’s a few examples of different exercises you should try for each body part:
Chest – Flat Bench-Press, Incline/Decline Bench Press, Dumbell Press/Fly’s
Back – Chin-ups (different grips), Bent-over Rows (dumbbell and barbell), pull-downs, deadlifts
Legs – Squat, Deadlift, Hamstring Curls, Leg Extension/Lifts, Calf raise
Shoulders – Shoulder Press, Shrugs, Lateral Raise, Pull-ups
Biceps – Barbell/Dumbell curl, Hammers, Preacher Curls, Concentration curls, Reverse Curls
Triceps – Dips, Extensions, Push-downs, Barbell Dip
Alternate regimes – cycle training
There’s a number of ways you can cycle your training, not just in the ways outlined already. The order in which you train can be altered on a regular basis.
Firstly, try altering the order you train each muscle. Instead of starting on the bench press, start with fly’s, then incline, then finish on the flat bench press. Secondly, alternate the order your train muscle groups. People generally start on the bench press, mainly so they’re fresh and can lift as much as possible (it’s all very impressive). One week in four, try starting with a few isolation exercises that you might do at the end of your workout and wind down to the big compound exercises you usually start with.
Remember what Arnie said ‘Surprise your muscles!’.
Try new supplements
Just like exercise routines, your body can adapt to the supplements you take. Not only that but everyone’s body is different. They react differently to many of the exercises and supplements available and can acclimatise to all the ways we try to add value to our workouts. Whether it’s a different type of protein or creatine, or adding new supplements to your arsenal, any change often leads to better results. There’s also a range of health benefiting supplements available to us such as Glutamine , Glucosamine , Zinc supplements supplements and a range of Vitamins and Minerals that our bodies may be lacking which limits growth.
Do some research, buy products that are well-known and scientifically backed and try something new. Even knowing your adding something new and different can have a placebo effect or increase your energy and motivation which can make that small difference needed to change results in a big way.