You know the guy.
He is at the gym all the time doing the exact same program week after week. Sure, he looks alright but has been exactly the same way for ages now. Nothing new so nothing changes.
Don't be that guy.
Be the guy who is growing, slowly but steadily. His workouts are exciting and you can see his progress, both visually (yeah I saw you checking his biceps out) and by how much damn weight he can lift these days.
This guy smashes through plateaus and keeps on going.
His secret? Using high-intensity techniques.
Designed to push your muscles to the limit, high-intensity techniques are a way to really force yourself to grow bigger.
(They can also be referred to as density as more work is being done in the same amount of time)
Disclaimer: Be careful with these techniques for 2 reasons. Due to nature of going to maximal failure, your form will break down. When this happens...stop. Don't hurt yourself. Secondly, they can be bloody hard to recover from and shouldn't be used too often. Sub one or two into your program for a few weeks and then take them back out to let your body recover.
1. Drop sets
Drop sets can give you a burn to tell the grandchildren about. Choose just one exercise and a weight you can do about 8 reps with. Complete the first set and quickly drop the weight down by about 20% then pump out some more reps until failure. You may keep dropping the weights and then repping to failure up to 2x more. Be warned - this is hard to recover from!
3 exercises, one target body part, minimal rest and some fun. With tri-sets you do 3 exercises for the same body part in a row resting no more than 20 seconds between them. You will want to move from the most complex/hardest exercise to the easiest.
Bench press x8 reps
(rest 15 secs)
Pushups x12 reps
(rest 15 secs)
DB flyes x15 reps
(enjoy the pump)
3. Rest-pause sets
Rest pausing involves picking one exercise and one weight. You will rep out to failure on the first set, REST JUST 15 SECONDS, then go again to failure. If you're crazy enough you will do it a second with just the 15 seconds rest before the 3rd set.
4. Eccentric overloading.
The lowering portion of any exercise (the eccentric) is always stronger than the up portion (the concentric). This means you will always reach concentric failure and still have reps in the tank left on the eccentric. Exactly why we need to overload it!
There are 2 main ways to do this.
This uses two limbs to do the concentric and just one limb for the eccentric. This really makes the single limb work overtime!
Help of a gym buddy
Alternatively, if you have a mate around ask him for some help. Once you hit concentric failure as him to help you with a few more additional concentric reps while you control the whole eccentric.
Compound movements are the king for mass. The problem is sometimes the weaker muscle groups will fail first, leaving the bigger ones under stimulated. For example adding an isolation exercise for the chest after a set of bench press will fully fatigue and stimulate the pecs for growth.
Bench press 6-12 reps
DB flies 10-15 reps
(Bonus) 6. Just increase your volume
Sometimes, you just need to do more work and volume is the number 1 indicator of muscle growth.
In this case, volume = sets x reps x load
So you can either increase the sets, increase the reps or increase the load (weight).
Choosing to increases the sets is the preferred option. When you increase the reps, the load has to decrease and when you increase the load the reps have to decrease. Adding a set is the easiest way to increase volume.
Funnily enough, when you look at the techniques above, most of them increase volume. Drop sets, rest pause etc. all just add sets into your session.
Alternatively, you can up the frequency.
Training muscle groups twice a week instead of just the once will do the same to increase weekly volume.
Usually do 4 sets of 10 curls?
Instead, do 3 sets of 10 on 2 days of the week.
40 reps vs 60 reps, you can guess which will one get you growing.