Change is good right? In the lifting world, it is something that needs to happen in order for you to grow. The biggest problem bodybuilders, strength athletes and every day lifters have is that they eventually stop making progress. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. If you want to continually make gains in the weight room, you have to change your programming. Honestly, this is as simple as changing your rep ranges and weights used. However, me being me, I have to explain things in detail for you guys. So… lets get started.
If you have been training with the same intensity, weight schemes and rep schemes, I am sorry to break it to you but, you are going to make minimal progress. In other words, if you have been using the same 3 sets of 10 repetitions for over a year now, chances are your progress has dwindled to a snails pace. This is your body telling you that they are used to this programming. Here is the solution…
Think of working your body out in two ways. Using your muscles primarily or using your CNS (central nervous sytem). Yes, I will be using the CNS to make things appear fancier than what they are! For the sake of simplicity lets call these two forms of lifting: high paced (metabolic) and heavy (basic) training. High paced training is high reps and lighter weight with a focus on eccentrics. Heavy is high weight, low reps culminated with long rest periods….Still with me? Good! Next I am going to tell you why it is important to train with both disciplines.
High reps gets you lean right? Not really…proper nutrition makes you lean. High reps or eccentric training (if you read my last post) is typically adopted by bodybuilders. When I say “high reps”, I’m thinking 10-12 range. Some programs will have high reps as low as 8…crazy huh? Primary focus here is control and building a large aesthetic muscle. So, against common bro knowledge, you can get big by lifting lighter weights in a more controlled manner…earth shattering i know. This is also referred to as “hypertrophy” or “structural hypertrophy”. So sum it all up, increase your time under tension, use a weight you can control (stop the ego lifting) and use fewer sets.
The above method will get you bigger. However, sheer strength will not be a result with the hypertrophy method. Low reps can range from 1 to 5 in a set. 1 being near maximal effort, while 5 being about 75% of threshold. This again, is more of a power lifting/Olympic style programming. By making your body lift heavier weights, you are stressing your body to a greater extent thereby forcing your CNS to provide more motor units and muscles fibers to activate. The more motor recruitment your body can provide, the greater the force your muscles can exert on that opposing force. Pretty cool right? The only difference here will be body composition. Strength athletes tend to be not has “inflated” looking as your quintessential body builder. Raw strength is their concern before aesthetics. They are still astonishingly strong and large human beings, they just lack a lot of the eccentric training that bodybuilders undergo.
For experienced weight lifters, your body will chronically adapt 5 to 6 weeks per training cycle. So you should be switching things up every two months or so. For weight lifters who are just beginning tend to push that adaptation period out to 10 to 12 weeks. So to make it simple, lift heavier for certain period of time, then switch things up. Put your ego aside and put the heavy stuff down for a while and let your body adapt accordingly. When you get back into your strength period, you will be stronger!