Probably each one of you, who has the scarce idea of working out, has heard the notion, how in order to have progress, you should be constantly stressing your body. And for that goal, they say you are supposed to use all kind of different exercises, in order to introduce the desired variety.
The happiest day of my life, was the one, when I understood that this is a really wrong understanding of a proper workout. Or at least not the statement itself, but its interpretation. I completely agree with the fact, that in order to progress you should exert some kind of stress upon your body. Because if you do the same thing all over again, there will come a time when your body will adapt and even if you keep on progressing, your results won’t be proportional to the efforts you make.
In the desire to bring more variety, a lot of trainees neglect the basic, compound movements and instead they do all kind of fancy movements, which could be perfectly applied in circus, but not in the gym, where the goal is to use your time effectively, in order to achieve optimal results- a combination of function and appearance.
Today I will share with you some of the right approaches ( at least in my opinion), in order to achieve the variety you search for, without gaining experience as a circus artist.
This is one of the key methods to achieve the desired results- to train with the proper intensity. And do not mistaken sweating with intensity. Just because your T-shirt is sweaty at the end of a training session, does not mean that you trained with intensity. In reality intensity is defined by the strength of the effort that your muscles perform. In order to understand what I mean I will say it as follows: intensity is proportional to the weight you use. The closer you are to your 1RM, the higher the intensity.
This means that when your workout includes exercises, performed with relatively heavy weights, then the intensity will be higher. The stronger you become, the more you will need to increase the weight, in order to reach the desired intensity.
For example, three years ago, 5 reps with just the bar, was something heavy for me. Nowadays 5 reps with the bar, feel as if I am squatting with body weight. If in the past this number of reps with this weight, provided me the intensity I needed in order to progress, nowadays this couldn’t happen if I do not increase the weight.
2.Change in the rest
The continuity of the rest is another option, you could pick in order to bring some variety in your workouts, while still progressing. If you get lost into talking with other gym dudes and you rest way too much, even the best program might not help you get results.
How much you rest depends on your particular goal, as well as the number of reps you perform and the weight you use. But still, every now and then, you could “play” with the rests, not by changing the number of reps or the weight you use, but by just decreasing the time you spend resting between each set.
For example, I usually perform squats by doing 5 sets of 5 reps, with a one minute rest between each set. The weight depends on the way I feel on that particular day, but usually I squat with 50-60kg. Last week I decided to bring in some variety in my workout and instead of the standard 5sets of 5 reps, I did 5 reps with 50kg. on every minute, for 10 minutes altogether. And the rest depended on the speed with which I performed the squats.
This definitely contributed to some kind of a different feeling.
3.Use exercise progressions
Each exercise has different progressions, which are something like a road, on which you are supposed to walk, depending on how fit you are. The fitter you become, the more you could use some advanced progressions.
For example, if at the beginning you performed kneeling push-ups, then standard push-ups, then weighted push-ups, then one-hand push-ups, then handstand push-ups. In reality you do not need some kind of fancy equipment in order to bring in some variety, while challenging your body and your abilities and still making progress.
4.Time under tension( TUT)
Here the key role is the TUT or in other words the time it takes you to perform the rep. Let’s say that you are squatting. When you perform one rep,it might take your 5-6 seconds- 1-2 seconds to go down, 1second to pause at the bottom and 2-3 seconds to go back up.
By manipulating the time it takes you to perform the positive and the negative part of the rep, you could bring in A LOT of variety and a different kind of loading. You don’t believe me? Well, just try going down super slow, and then going up super slow. I am sure that you will get a different feeling even after the first set.
There are so MANY more methods you could use in order to bring in some kind of variety. But these are enough for today! I will share some more with you later on.
I just want to mention that for the past two years, I have been using the same movements, while I am still constantly progressing. The only difference is that the stronger I become, the heavier weights I use. The only variety in the movements I use, comes from the fact that I am getting stronger and I am able of doing some things, I couldn’t do back in the days. Let’s say pistol squats!
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