When experiencing a plateau while performing your muscular strength training program, the tendency is to increase the external resistance (i.e. increase the weight you are lifting). However, everyone reaches a point when they are no longer able to lift more external load. How do you break through the plateaus?
There are many other methods of increasing intensity aimed at breaking through plateaus. This week we will feature three. The focus will be specifically on external resistance, not body weight training. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Slow Down the Tempo of your Repetitions
• While power training where explosive exertion is expected, slower tempo training concentrates on building muscular strength by applying a principle known as “time under tension.”
• Keeping the muscle group under tension longer may provide a safer environment for training as there is additional time allotted for proper form and technique, but it may also increase muscular strength levels.
• An example would be to take four counts to perform a standing triceps pushdown exercise at the functional station of a multi-gym (i.e. cable/pulley system) and four counts to return to the beginning position. Or, if you would like to emphasize the eccentric aspect of the contraction, push down for two counts and take six counts to return to the beginning position.
Change your Body Position
•Where your body is in relationship to gravity is critical when training with external resistance.
•Changing your body position when performing muscular strength training exercises may increase the intensity due to a different stress/adaptation component If you are accustomed to performing lunges holding dumbbells or with a barbell from the shoulders, on the floor, try doing so from an elevated platform, placing the front foot on an 8 inch step/bench with the back leg trailing and back heel elevated throughout. Or, attempt the lunge with the trailing leg elevated and the front foot on the floor.
Change the Equipment
-If you are a die-hard free weight enthusiast, think out of that box and perform your classic strength training exercises with different equipment such as resistive tubing, kettlebells, cable/pulley systems, Smith Machines, and medicine balls.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net, her blog at www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.