By Zach Even - Esh
Your body is extremely quick to adapt to a particular training routine, style of training or set - rep patterns. Once the body adapts, your muscles see no reason to develop greater strength or muscle. They are content, happy and comfortable and in the world of muscle building, that is what we DON’T want our muscles to experience.
If you're serious about getting results in the realm of more muscle, fat loss and / or strength, your body needs something different on a regular basis to shock it into progress.
Remember: Exercise is supposed to be challenging. Push your body outside the comfort zone and switch up your training to force the body to handle the training by packing on more muscle and becoming stronger. THAT is the adaptation you want happening: Adapting by getting stronger and more muscular.
One method that has proven very powerful in breaking through muscle building plateaus is through the use of multiple set and rep patterns in the SAME workout. This style of training will work on both large and small muscle groups, but especially the large muscle groups.
Here is an example of how the set - rep patterns will work for your larger muscle groups such as legs, chest & back.
As always, perform a thorough warm up for your entire body as well as performing warm ups for each exercise as necessary. The warm up should prepare your body AND mind for the challenge of each training session.
First Exercise (Heavy): Build up to two heavy sets of 3 - 6 reps.
Second Exercise (Medium): Build up to 2 or 3 hard sets of 7 - 12 reps.
Final Exercise (Light): Perform 2 hard sets of 13 - 20 reps.
Here is a sample Chest workout using the HML (Heavy, Medium, Light) System:
1) Incline BB Press: Perform 2 - 3 warm up sets in the 4 - 8 rep range, do not burn out on these warm up sets, just add weight each set and get your mind AND body ready to attack the workout. This is your first exercise and one you should be purely focused on getting STRONG with.
Work your way up to a heavy set and perform a challenging set of 6 reps. On the second heavy set, add some weight if possible and perform a challenging set of 3 or 4 reps.
2) Flat DB Bench (Palms Neutral): Perform 1 moderate warm up set for 6 - 8 reps. Next, grab a heavier set of dumbbells and aim for a tough 10 - 12 reps. On your final set, go heavier and push for 7 - 9 tough reps.
3) Parallel Bar Dips: Get right to it, no need for a warm up and attack 2 or 3 all out sets of high reps. Leave nothing in the tank on these lighter, pump sets and go for the burn. Your goal is to engorge the muscles with as much blood as possible.
The same format above can be used for legs and back. During these style of HML workouts you attack the muscles from all angles with heavy weights, moderate weights and light weights. This allows you to develop greater strength, more lean muscle mass and tendon strength.
Most workouts follow the typical 3 sets of 10 or a 5 x 5 routine. These programs CAN work and often WILL work, especially for a beginner. But, if you have NOT changed your sets and reps you are likely stuck in that ever dread rut or plateau.
In short time your body KNOWS the routine like the back of your hand and stops responding. Try the above set & rep pattern for your larger muscle groups and drop a comment / question letting us know how you’re doing with this program.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll share with you even more tips to shock your muscles into growth and break away from the dreaded plateaus in strength and muscle building.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zach Even - Esh is the Founder of The Underground Strength Gym located in NJ. A loving husband & father, Zach is committed towards helping others achieve success in mind, body & life. Zach is the creator of numerous books, DVDs & training programs, all of which have been inspired from his 23 years of in the trenches experience.