One of the main reasons we go to the gym is to build muscle mass. The first year we start training we make insane progress, then all of a sudden we hit a brick wall and all progress begins to plateau. What happened? You are still hitting the weights hard and your diet is on track. Believe it or not it could be your training program! Back in the 60s and 70s Arnold use a variety of techniques to maximize his muscular growth long after his first year of training. Here are 5 techniques you can add to your program to start gaining size again!
This technique can be very brutal and effective if implemented correctly. Most people don’t realize that in order to do negatives correctly you need a partner or you can cheat on the concentric (contraction) portion of the lift. You should use a load about 20% more than you can lift in the concentric as you are focusing on the eccentric (lowering) of the weight. The reason you need to use a heavier weight is we are actually stronger eccentrically than we are in a concentric motion.
Drop sets are similar to cluster sets but instead of extending the set by 2-3 reps for the last set you will drop the weight and then go another full set. Say you hit dumbbell curls with 40 pounds for 8 reps you would reduce the weight by 10-15% then complete a whole other set of 8 reps with the 35 pound dumbbells. This in turn forces the muscle to stimulate more muscle fibers and grow.
Compound sets are a great way to hit the muscle not just once but twice in the same set back to back. Similar to supersets where you hit the antagonist muscle along with the agonist without any rest until you hit both muscles. With a compound set, say for chest you will do a bench press and then immediately hit an incline press or another chest exercise before you get your rest period. This stimulates the muscle in a way that it needs to become stronger and develop more endurance to be able to work harder for a longer period of time
Compound lifts should be the base of any one’s program. These include the bench, squat, and deadlift. The compound lifts are the king of all exercises because of the massive amount of muscle recruitment that is required to do them. Doing these exercises will enable you to identify weak points to focus on in your accessory work.
Try adding one or more of these techniques to your program and watch the gains come like never before. Keep in mind these are advanced techniques and should be practiced before you over do them and find yourself with an injury. Let the gains begin!
Cluster sets are a great way to overload the muscles, overloading is the main principle behind muscle growth. A cluster set is a way to extend past the point of failure on your max for a lift, and is also safe. Say you can bench 200 for 5 reps. We can extend the set to get an extra 2-3 reps by pausing 15 seconds after you hit rep 5 on your set, then hitting another rep and repeating up to 3 times to get maximum benefits.