Indiana Daily Student

The iron lifestyle

Revamping routine helps to avoid overtraining, fatigue

Do you remember how easily the gains came when you first began training? \nI recall shattering strength records on a daily basis. Five- and 10-pound load increases on my compound movements were commonplace. I was growing like a freak. \nEventually, the size gains stopped when my strength improvements stalled. \nFor a long time, I just added sets and reps. Workouts became marathons and training was a chore instead of a satisfying challenge. The overtraining cloud struck, and I had to change my approach or hang it up. It was time to train smarter. \nI took a long, hard look at my iron life and found answers that renewed me for this endeavor. I returned to my roots and discovered my pursuit of strength was the key to unlocking the vault of muscle we all seek.\nWe are all creatures of habit, while some of us are beings of obsession. Bodybuilders tend to hold a death grip over their routines, methodologies and lifestyle patterns. We fear change and will stick with what has worked in the past, even if progress has come to a halt. \nIncreasing set volume is still the king of bodybuilding program design. Tear those muscles down by adding more sets and reps. Force those muscles to grow by punishing them day in and day out. This traditional approach can work, but not forever. A high-volume approach might not be the most productive way to train for hypertrophy gains.\nOvertraining is the most prolific spoiler of fitness results. The sure-fire way to become overtrained is with consistently high set volumes. The argument between quality and quantity is ever-present. Trainees who are successful with high set volumes are either genetically talented or making use of anabolic substances to raise training capacity.\nSo what is high volume? Every individual will have a different threshold for training and pushing himself to the edge, but this is not the best option for the long haul. Remember the best workout volume is the one from which you can recover optimally.\nIntensity, the use of gradually higher loads, is the most neglected method for improvement. Abandoning intensity is a mistake. For some reason, bodybuilders tend to avoid training heavy. Perhaps they feel lifting heavier weights is for athletes or performance-oriented trainees. \nLet's set the record straight: Intensity is the missing link in most routines of lift trainees who are failing to improve. Heavy poundages stimulate high threshold motor units, which have the greatest potential for hypertrophy. Neglecting these fast-twitch fibers is a missed opportunity.\nCompromise is a mechanism to create positive change. \nI am not going to ask you to abandon your current training methods. I do suggest you incorporate intense sets when appropriate. Obviously, one cannot train with maximal poundages using higher rep schemes. \nThe load will dictate how many reps can be performed. Consider upping your poundages for half of your total sets. Use a five-rep-per-set scheme for the heavy work as a benchmark. Experiment with heavy doubles, triples and singles for variety. I recommend using fewer exercises per workout, but rotating them on a more frequent basis. Try doing four exercises and four sets per exercise for a total of 16 sets. (This volume might be too high for individuals with poor recovery ability.)\n The first two sets of each exercise should utilize heavy poundages while the second two sets should be high rep work. Try a rep scheme of five, five, eight, 10 for four sets, respectively. The second set is likely to be your best set from a strength perspective.\nDifferent rep ranges in the third and fourth set are for variety. This approach will enable you to stimulate fibers in a different way than before. Notice that variety is an essential component for growth.\nImplement a fast-tempo training speed for your heavy work. Take advantage of the stretch shortening cycle by rapidly moving loads (under control) through all phases of the exercise. Slower rep speeds are more appropriate for high rep work, which should include a relatively longer eccentric or negative.\nUse longer rest periods (3-5 minutes) for the heavy work and something like one or two minutes for the higher rep work. You can gradually cut down on the rest periods by alternating antagonistic muscle groups. For example, perform a heavy set of dumbbell bench press, rest and then execute dumbbell rows. Repeat the cycle for a pre-determined number of sets. \nAlternating exercises in this way will bring on faster recovery rates between sets in comparison to traditional methods.\nLet's take the power back! \nGet stronger, and you will grow once again at rapid rates. Be intense! Go to war with gravity every time you hit the gym. Set strength goals for each training session, and do not take no for an answer. Do not settle for your "best" because your best is a false perception. Go beyond what you think is possible by doing whatever it takes to get the job done. Train hard, and more importantly, train smart.

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