For muscles to grow, you have to stimulate them enough to break them which leads to growth during recovery. You can do that by increasing workout intensity and weights but you will hit a plateau eventually. For those times you need training techniques that will move beyond the stimuli that your muscles are already used to.
Here are top 7 best techniques, some very well know and some less common, to break your muscle growth plateau.
One of the more popular training techniques is focusing on muscle extension in the eccentric part of the exercise. Negatives are usually done with bigger weights than usual or to finish off a workout when your muscles are already tired. To do a negative repetition you’ll use assistance (either by using momentum, a bench or machine, or a partner) to get the weight to the top and then very slowly extend the muscles.
So, for example, in case of bicep curls, you may pick up a heavier barbell than you’d be able to complete full reps in the correct form, and use some momentum to swing the weight up. Then proceed to lower it down in a very slow and controlled manner.
Another popular and great technique is decreasing the weight with each set in an exercise. This way you are able to start with heavy weights and continue to hit the muscles much longer as you progress through failure in each set.
This technique works best with easily adjustable or changeable weights such as an array of dumbbells so you can proceed with minimal rests between sets.
One more technique to increase workout intensity and better stimulate the muscles is the superset. In a nutshell a superset consists of two exercises done in one set, or two sets done without rest, depending on the way you look at it. The exercises used normally work the same group of muscles. So, for example, you can superset the bench press with chest dips by pressing the dumbbell 8 times followed by 8 dips, and that will be one set.
Multi Exercise Sets
Similar to the superset but a different technique is performing a set of different exercises for the same workout. So, for example, you’d have 4 sets of 8 reps each, but you’d do different exercises working the same muscle group for each set. This adds a lot more variety to a single workout which can be exactly what you need to break out of a plateau.
A less common technique to increase the intensity of muscle load is finishing off an exercise with holding a partial position for several seconds. For example, you’d finish lateral raises by lifting the dumbbells only halfway and holding that position for as long as you can. This will really burn those muscles.
One and a Half Reps
Another less used technique is performing one and a half repetitions of an exercise. You would perform a full rep, then immediately proceed with the next rep only stopping mid way. For example, a one and a half pull up would consist of pulling yourself to the bar, then only half way for the next rep. Such prolonged repetitions add more to the way the muscles have to move during an exercise.
Forced and Partial Reps
Going through failure is what really breaks down the muscles and stimulate them to grow. So after failing to proceed with a set, use a little assistance from a partner to move further. This may help you to work the muscles in parts of the movement where they are stronger while assisting in the weaker parts.
Similarly, partial reps may help you to work on your weaker points and increase your performance of an exercise. For example, doing the floor bench press would allow you to work on the top movement of the exercise as your elbows can’t move back, limiting the motion.
So there you have it, 7 best techniques to better stimulate your muscles and break the growth plateau for when you can’t seem to get any more gains and need to amp up the workout intensity. Use them and you’ll feel the difference.