Today I want to share some bodybuilding techniques that can help you break through plateaus and continue growing.
I will share some techniques that will help you grow bigger muscles and get strong. There is a distinction between training for muscle size gains and strength gains. I’ve written about it in previous posts, but here is just a quick recap:
When you’re training for size gains, you should:
- Use lower weights
- Do a higher amount of repetitions (6-12 reps)
- Take shorter breaks in between sets
- You need to do isolation exercises
When you’re training for strength gains, you should:
- Use higher weights
- Do a lower amount of repetitions (1-5 reps)
- Take longer breaks in between sets (3-5 mins) helps strength gains. Interesting study on it here.
- If you’re in a strength training phase, only do compound exercises
Now let’s move on and talk about some techniques you can use for size gains.
Bodybuilding Techniques for Size Gains
Slowing Down Your Tempo:
This concept was originally developed by Arthur Jones, he advocated using a 5/5 tempo. Later, Mike Mentzer found through studies that only 3/3 was required for maximum growth. In 1978, Mike won Mr. Universe with a perfect score of 300 (the only person to ever achieve this). Then in 1979, he won Mr. Olympia with a perfect score of 300. Here is a picture of him once again below:
He talked about using a 3/3 tempo. 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. When you’re letting the weight down (this is called a negative), feel your muscles working to let it down slow against gravity. If you’re used to a faster temp, you need to lower your weights significantly. It’s crucial that you keep perfect form throughout your reps.
Varying Rep Schemes:
If your body got used to your current rep scheme, change it up. Here are some example rep schemes:
Pyramid – Starting with 12 reps, you use a light weight. Increase the weight for each set and decrease the rep count by 2. For the final set, return to the starting weight and do 12 reps again. For example it can look like this:
12 reps @ 10 lbs
10 reps @ 20 lbs
8 reps @ 30 lbs
6 reps @ 40 lbs
12 reps @ 10 lbs
Other reps schemes include 3×8, 6×6, 4×12, 4×15, 3×20, etc…
Varying Rest Durations:
When you’re working out for size gains, you need short rest periods in between sets (up to 60 seconds). Shorten the rest periods and you can fatigue your muscles more. Try resting for only 40 seconds, then 30 seconds, then 20 seconds, then 15 seconds in between sets. Only focus on deep breathing during your rests.
Focus on controlled movements, never swing the weight. When you’re doing an isolation exercise, focus on isolating the muscle that is being worked. For example, when you’re doing a biceps curl, keep your upper arm should be completely still for the entire rep, only your lower arms should be lifting.
The goal is to isolate the muscle that you want to work. Test out different angles to get more isolation. Keeping perfect form is key here.
Bodybuilding Techniques for Strength Gains
Control your breath:
When you’re doing the positive part of the motion (the initial lift), breathe out. When you’re doing the negative part of the motion (returning to the starting point), breathe in. You’ll see lifters grunt/make sounds when lifting, this is what’s happening.
Tightening Up Your Core:
As you lift, breathe out, contract your abdominal muscles and also your gluteus muscles (your butt) when you’re lifting. You’ll notice that martial artists, boxers and other discipline fighters breathe out sharply when they strike. Powerlifters sometimes yell, grunt or make other sounds while lifting. Doing this helps them tighten their core, which allows them to exert more force.
Always Work on Improving Your Form:
This one is self explanatory. Your form is much more important than the amount of weights you can lift. Good form will maximize your growth and prevent injury. This one applies for weight lifting in general.
Training for Muscle Density
There is a difference between angular and dense looking muscle and the bulky puffed up looking muscle. Here is a video talking about building density.