The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. However, this is rarely the case in life and it is even less applicable in terms of achieving our fitness goals. Whether referring to males or females, the notion of “plateauing” eventually comes to pass when training for an extended period of time. The only remaining question is what we can do about it. Although there are no universal solutions and every individual will respond different, there are still many effective steps which can be taken. If you are tired of spinning your wheels only to remain in the exact same position, keep reading.
The Principle of HypertrophyBefore we move on, it is important to understand hypertrophy in terms of muscles. Hypertrophy is clinically defined as a situation which causes a certain part of the body to grow in size. A liver can experience hypertrophy from excessive drinking. A leg might become hypertrophic thanks to diabetic oedema. Muscles can also undergo this change. The main point here is that in terms of training, hypertrophy arises from the fibres being broken down (similar to scar tissue) and then regrowing larger and more dense over time. Hypertrophy is key in terms of lean mass gains. So, how can you achieve this vaunted situation without maxing out during every workout?
Increased Blood Volume: Take Your Pump to the Next LevelArnold described the pump in rather graphic details and yet, his point was simple. During high-intensity training, blood rushes into the associated muscle group. So, why do you feel less of a pump when lifting max weights as you do when performing repetitions into the dozens of sets? Simply stated, low-rep training does not require nearly as much blood when compared to volume-centric plans. Let’s also remember that other nutrients such as protein, nitric oxide and creatine will also reach those fibres when blood flow is augmented. The bottom line is that high repetitions are directly related to a greater pump. This is the very same reason why seemingly horrible gut-wrenching routines such as century sets (100 reps of any given exercise) have been touted by some of the best in the business.
Keeping Those Injuries at BayWe never heard Ronnie Coleman screaming “lightweight baby!!!” Then again, this former Mr. Olympia has gone through no fewer than 13 surgeries to his spine and supportive musculature. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with going heavy on occasion, injuries are always a massive risk. Training with lighter weights allows you to push your muscles to their max without worrying about incurring an injury. This is particularly useful when dealing with smaller groups such as the biceps, triceps and calves.
Nothing Wrong with Cheating on OccasionSeeing a novice gym rat curl more than his own bodyweight by performing a virtual limbo is always a cringe-worthy experience. So, why not drop the weight and focus upon the muscle as opposed to cracking your spine open like an unwanted fortune cookie? Even if you approach that burning sensation of failure, you can always cheat the weight up (Arnold was a massive proponent of cheat curls) without losing a few vertebrae during the process. Lighter weights allow us to push the proverbial envelope without tearing it apart. This true for nearly every movement.
Countless Routines to Choose FromIn terms of lightweight routines, there is certainly no lack of variety. For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that you are looking to tone your triceps. Here is a standard triceps session:
- 3 sets of cable push-downs (x12)
- 3 sets of laying barbell extensions (x12-15)
- 3 sets of kick-backs (x10-12)
Volume and Pain: Two Birds of a FeatherTo state the obvious, there is nothing wrong with lifting heavy weights for low reps. This is also where growth comes from. The main point is that variety is indeed the spice of live. High reps could very well be just what you have been looking for.
Please note that this article is suited for men and women alike. Muscles do not define themselves by gender. There are many times when high weights and low repetitions can produce amazing results. However, there are also instances when a high-rep session could represent just what the doctor ordered. The great thing about this method is that it can be employed at nearly any age and that it is particularly useful if you are concerned about chronic injuries.
When used with the Trion fitness app, the results are just as undeniable as the discomfort that you are likely to feel when pushing yourself to the limit and well beyond. Either way, you are taking a step in the right direction.