If you’ve been lifting weight for some time then I am sure you have experienced a plateau, if not several, in your fitness journey. These can be irritating, especially when you’ve done nearly every variation of each exercise. I have listed some of my favorite ways to break through my strength barriers.
Negative Reps: Negative reps are a great way to put a heavier load on the muscles being targeted. You have more power on the eccentric (lowering) movement than you do concentric so adding more weight will stress your muscles, forcing growth. Typically I increase the weight by 20 percent of my max for the desired rep range (4-6). Most people let gravity pull the weight down, cutting themselves short of the full movement and time under tension. Go slow and controlled throughout the full eccentric movement (3 seconds) as you lower the weight and have a spotter generously assist you with the concentric (positive) movement.
Rest-Pause: If you are stuck on a weight for a certain rep range, this is a great way to break that adaptive cycle. An example is if your max is 6 reps with a certain weight, you would perform 4 reps, then rest for 10 seconds. Do another 2-3 reps, rest, and then a final 2-3 reps totaling 8-10 reps using the same weight.
Drop Sets: A drop set is pyramiding downward using 3-4 weights starting with the heaviest and going to failure with each one. An effective rep range is 8-12 and aim for 4 heavy reps on the first leg of your set. With little to no rest, drop a slight amount of weight, perform another 3-4 reps and repeat an additional time.
Supplements: Supplements can give you that extra boost. Recently, Max Muscle came out with a new product called MaxxTOR. Within just the first day of using this product my strength increased by roughly 10 percent! I have been training for nearly 7 years now and to see that amount of increase is amazing! It also helped boost my endurance and improve my lean body mass in just a short time! There are various supplements you can incorporate in your regimen. It’s a matter of finding what works for you. Here are my staple supplement stacks:
Recovery: I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times but proper recovery is so important. If you are walking into the gym wanting to target the same muscle group that you are still sore from, this is a good indication that you have not allowed yourself enough proper rest. Most important ways to recover include the following:
✓ Consume enough nutrient-dense food
✓ Drink plenty of water
✓ Get 7-8 hours sleep
Everyone responds differently to training routines. Experiment with variations until you find what works best for you. Ultimately, muscle confusion is key!
Claudia Virgil is a bikini fitness competitor, fitness model, personal trainer, and Team Max athlete. She is making the switch from NPC to WBFF in 2017. She resides in Arizona with her loving husband and their two Pit Bulls. Find out more about her at ClaudiaVFit.com.
By Claudia Virgil, Team Max Athlete