BY ZACK ZEIGLER
Two simple ways to create tougher workouts are to recruit a training partner or to hire a personal trainer. However, for those of us who train at odd or inconsistent times, or don’t have the disposable income. to hire a professional, we need a plan C. That’s simple. Plan C is: We need to get our asses in gear by scrutinizing every facet of our training program.
From the foods we eat to the exercises we choose, it all goes under a microscope. So whether you’re bored, hitting plateaus, or just a go-getter on the hunt for new ways to elevate the challenges, try implementing one or all of these training methods into your current routine.
Resistance Bands and Chains
“The fancy term you’ll hear alot regarding bands. and chains is ‘accommodating resistance,’” says Brian Matthews C.S.C.S. “What that means is that the weight will get heavier as you execute the movement.”
The other term you’ll hear in connection with bands and chains: compensatory acceleration. This sounds super technical, but it’s simply defining the need to push the bar up faster to overcome the increasing weight. “This makes bands and chains helpful to someone looking to move past sticking points or break past plateaus,” Matthews adds.
TRX Suspension Training
Using your body as a resistance mechanism. and forcing yourself to use stabilizer muscles you might normally neglect can enable you to develop a stronger core and improve both flexibility and mobility. “An advantage to using a TRX is that you’re able to perform these exercises anywhere as long as you have the straps and an anchor point,” Matthews explains. “While compound movements are your bread and butter, there is nothing wrong with achieving more relative body strength and working your stabilizers.”
Using partials, repetitions that use a partial range of motion, to focus on specific weaknesses can be a huge plateau-buster. and open the floodgates for impressive strength gains. “With the bench press, squat, or any compound movement, you can overload the exercise and use more weight than you typically would, because you’re not going to use your full ROM,” Matthews says. “With a bench press, for example, if you’re someone who gets stuck at the top end of the lift, try setting up a bench press inside of a power cage and putting the crash pins halfway to where you normally bring the bar. Now do your presses from there.”
Compound movements allow you to lift heavier weight and build more mass, but unilateral exercises also have advantages. “They can increase proprioception., or body awareness, and enable you to identify .weakness. and imbalances,” Matthews explains. The downside is the time commitment. You’ll need to devote more time to your lift since you’re not plowing through your workouts with bilateral movements.
Concentrated Isomettrics (Static Holds)
Making a concerted effort to pause and hold at the top of an movement can translate into bigger muscles and a stronger structure. “Basically, that extra hold engages more musculature and makes you push harder,” Matthews says. “You can take most rowing variations and hold at the peak contraction for five to seven seconds, and you’ll be creating more upper-back stability. Using this method with a bench press will help make the scapula more resilient and stable..”
The eccentric portion of a lift is the lowering phase. Lowering the weight in a slow and controlled manner causes the muscle to work harder. “Instead of doing things spastically, using eccentrics places more tension throughout the muscle. Mess with rep tempos on things like one-arm rows barbell rows., chin-ups, and pull-ups. just to see how different it feels. If you do it enough, it’ll yield serious gains.”
Never done oscillation reps? We’ll use the one-arm row. as an example. First, pull the dumbbell all the way up to your chest, and then push it halfway down, pull it up to the chest again, and then push it halfway down once more. That’s one rep. “Do the entire sequence as quickly as possible, and add another pump in there if you’d like” Matthews says. “Of course, this technique isn’t limited to the one-arm row. Use it with other exercises as well.”
Matthews adds, “It looks goofy to do these, but they work as a good strength application. They also teach your body to fire faster, so you’ll push up faster and more violently in compound movements.”