These 5 Powerful Training Methods will help you build muscle faster and break through plateaus. If you’re stuck and struggling to see muscle growth, then you need to try something new. The gym exercises strategies that are taught can be used by anyone to shock your muscles and stimulate them to bulk up. So-called “hard gainers” could also really benefit from these techniques.
To many people’s surprise muscle growth is actually not a linear process. When first starting out it’s not uncommon to pack on 2-3 pounds of muscle per month as a true beginner. Then as an intermediate lifter that number goes down to only 1-2 pounds of muscle per month. And finally, as an advanced lifter that’s been training consistently and properly for years, you’ll be lucky if you can gain anywhere from 0 to half a pound of muscle per month. The good news however is that regardless of what stage you at there are useful training techniques that you can use to help promote muscle growth, break through plateaus, and ultimately build muscle faster.
And the first powerful technique that I want to start with is known as eccentric overloading. With eccentric overloading, you would make the eccentric or the muscle lengthening portion of the exercise which is usually when you’re lowering the weight, you would purposely make that part of the exercise harder than the concentric portion which is when your muscle is shortening which usually happens when you’re lifting the weight up. The benefit of eccentric overloading is that muscles can generally produce about 20 to 60 percent more force during the eccentric as opposed to the concentric portion of the contraction. (1) That’s because, during eccentric contractions, a component of the muscle called titin activates and produces a passive elastic force due to its stiffness. (2) This leads to an increased amount of tension on the muscle fibers, which is how it contributes to muscle growth. (3) So to put it simply eccentric overloading allows you to reach higher levels of muscle activation than you would with traditional sets, leading to more muscle growth. And we see this playing out in studies that show that training with machines that have eccentric overloading produces more muscle growth than training with regular, consistent-resistance machines. (4) Now the problem with these machines is that they’re rare in gyms because they’re expensive. But the good news is that there are other options. For example, if you have a partner, you can select a weight that would normally be too challenging to rep out by yourself, and then lower the weight down as slowly as you can for the eccentric portion, and then as you get to the bottom have your partner fully help you all the way up. Then repeat by slowly lowering down again. Another option is to lift weights with two limbs and then lower with back down with one. This works very well on certain machines, like the leg extension, leg curl, calf raise, chest press, and overhead press. Keep in mind this won’t work on unilateral equipment where each side moves independently, it will only work on machines where the left and the right sides are connected. Another way to incorporate eccentric overloading is to cheat during the concentric phase, to be able to overload the way back down. So an example of this would be to push press a barbell over your head by using momentum from your legs and then slowly lower the weight back down using only your arms, then repeat for reps. Now, it’s important to note that eccentric overloading is more taxing on your body than regular sets, so you will need more time to recover. That’s why you should only use this technique occasionally. Definitely do not use it on all or even most of your exercises because it could put too much stress on your body.
Another advanced technique you can use is known as a cluster set. To do these you would rest between every rep or ever ‘cluster’ of reps instead of resting only between complete sets. For example, you would do two reps of deadlifts, then rest for ten seconds, do another two reps, then rest ten seconds, and finally do two more reps, after which you would rest for three to four minutes and repeat the cycle. So… many of you are probably wondering why you would choose to do cluster sets instead of simply doing all your reps in one shot? Well, this is because studies show that, cluster sets are actually better than straight sets for developing strength and power. (5) Researchers also found that you experience those benefits without compromising muscle growth(6). In other words, with cluster sets, you can build the same amount of muscle while gaining more strength and power. Cluster sets are so beneficial for strength and power because they lead to a higher total training volume. Since you’re allowed to take short breaks in the middle of each of your sets, you should be able to squeeze out…
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