You probably know the main elements of good training. But do you know the determining factors that will make these training a long-term success? If you’re not sure, follow the top 10 tips for room success!
1) Wait before cheating
Used correctly, cheated reps can boost the intensity of the series, but too often they are used too early, which actually decreases the intensity. Many bodybuilders cheat (using the wrong technique) during a series, which decreases the pressure on the target muscles. For example, curls are often cheated from start to finish with the use of an impulse, which means that the deltoids are used before, not the biceps.
- Learn to perform each exercise with a rigorous technique, and then work on it to achieve perfection. The warm-up series, or the lighter series of a pyramid, is the right time to take care of your technique and therefore achieve the heaviest series correctly.
- If necessary, make sure to minimize the cheated reps, by doing the curl with the bar upright, back against the wall, and/or by pressing the elbows against the sides, or by doing the spreads seated on a bench.
- Do not release your technique until you can no longer do a full rep. The cheated reps should be used to accentuate the difficulty of a series (by going beyond failure), not to decrease it (by preventing you from going to failure with a rigorous technique).
2) Short series, but not too long
For weight gain, the best range is 8 to 12 reps. Streaks of up to 7 reps with heavier loads may work wonders for your gym ego, but they’re not nearly as effective as moderate streaks with moderate loads. A recent study has found that, compared to a load allowing only 4 reps, the stimulation of protein synthesis (the process that leads to mass gain) is 60% greater with a load making 25 to 30 reps. What’s more, too heavy loads often lead to partial reps, especially the leg press, which is probably the exercise for which you stack the most cast iron. It’s good for the ego, and since the guy, before you did six half reps at 408 kilos instead of doing 12 full reps at 272 kilos, you want to do the same. Resist this temptation. Combined with lighter loads, longer series and better techniques stimulate hypertrophy. A recent study carried out in Italy found that, compared to practitioners doing complete reps, subjects doing half-reps or three-quarters of the bench press with dumbbells used much less muscle fiber in the deltoids. However, the recruitment of more muscle fibers during exercise increases the volume of the muscle worked. Even when we aim for power, the shorter the series, the more difficult it is to align one more rep, and therefore to gain lasting mass. A recent study carried out in Italy found that, compared to practitioners doing complete reps, subjects doing half-reps or three-quarters of the bench press with dumbbells used much less muscle fiber in the deltoids. However, the recruitment of more muscle fibers during exercise increases the volume of the muscle worked. Even when we aim for power, the shorter the series, the more difficult it is to align one more rep, and therefore to gain lasting mass. A recent study carried out in Italy found that, compared to practitioners doing complete reps, subjects doing half-reps or three-quarters of the bench press with dumbbells used much less muscle fiber in the deltoids. However, the recruitment of more muscle fibers during exercise increases the volume of the muscle worked. Even when we aim for power, the shorter the series, the more difficult it is to align one more rep, and therefore to gain lasting mass. the recruitment of more muscle fibers during exercise increases the volume of the muscle worked. Even when we aim for power, the shorter the series, the more difficult it is to align one more rep, and therefore to gain lasting mass. the recruitment of more muscle fibers during exercise increases the volume of the muscle worked. Even when we aim for power, the shorter the series, the more difficult it is to align one more rep, and therefore to gain lasting mass.
- Make your movements in full amplitude, from maximum stretch to maximum contraction. Perform the negative portion of the reps in a controlled manner.
- Use a range of 8 to 12 reps for the majority of your series.
- Concentrate on the contraction of the muscles, not on the movement of the load.
3) Work for failure
Failure occurs when you can no longer do a full rep with good technique. Not all effective series have to go to failure, but many bodybuilders never approach them. Often, it is because they set a goal that is largely within their reach, and stop once they have reached it.
- During a failed streak, give up a rep only after trying for at least three seconds to overcome it with rigorous technique. At this point, you can stop, or cheat just enough or get just enough help to complete the rep.
- Work with a training log to record your records for different exercises. You will then have an objective for each session: add a new record to the notebook.
- Only set a rep target if it is beyond your comfort zone, and ideally, it should allow you to break a record.
- Try to do at least one or two sets of failures for each exercise.
4) Bet on the intensity
Some practitioners never push their series beyond failure, and therefore never really test their limits, while others are used to the pain, but see the intensity of their sessions gradually decrease. The former uses several techniques to go beyond failures, such as forced reps, cheated reps, partial reps, partial recovery, negative reps, static contractions, and declining streaks. Studies show that techniques like forced reps raise the level of growth hormones much more than sessions where the streak is pushed to failure, but not beyond. The second are not isolated cases, everyone experiences slow periods. The most common mistake is to try to overcome this problem by persisting on the same path. Instead, look for your physical and mental batteries. In order to reach your goal as quickly as possible, you sometimes have to slow down or even stop to replenish your energy reserves.
- Learn the different techniques to push the sets beyond failure, and apply them to a few sets in each session. Not all techniques are suitable for all exercises. For example, it is not advisable to cheat in the squat or to focus on the negative portion of the deadlift, but a partner can help you do one or two forced reps in the squat and you can use the partial recovery in the deadlift earthen.
- Intensity at half-mast can be a symptom of overtraining. Reduce the frequency of sessions and/or take a break of one or two weeks.
- Alternate high-intensity training periods of 8 to 12 weeks with less intense training cycles of 2 to 4 weeks. For the latter, refresh your usual program by adding a circuit training, powerlifting or training module based on long series (20 to 50 reps).
- Once back on track, you will try to push the series to failure and beyond, then set yourself short, long-term strength goals that are difficult, but (just) achievable.
5) Use free loads
The majority of modern rooms are equipped with all kinds of machines but resist the temptation to want to articulate your sessions around mechanical movements. Bars and dumbbells remain the best tools ever invented for bodybuilders, and exercises with freeloads or bodyweight should form the basis of your sessions targeting the chest, back, arms, shoulders, and quadriceps. Despite the modern equipment we have, the most beautiful breasts of the Arnold Schwarzenegger era have nothing to envy the pectorals exhibited during this year’s Olympia competition. Why? Because at the time, the pecs were worked almost exclusively on the barbell and dumbbells.
- Focus on core bodyweight exercises and free weights.
- Emphasize compound exercises (which use multiple muscle groups). For example, work the triceps with the dips and the tight bench press instead of choosing machine isolation exercises such as pulley extension.
- If you work with machines, try to choose machines that imitate the trajectories followed by freeloads.
6) Rest is important
Question overtraining, we prefer to focus on the aspect of rest, not work, because, for the majority of bodybuilders, the cause is not intensity or an excessive volume of work, but insufficient rest between two sessions, which hampers progress. It is crucial to space the sessions correctly in order to recover well and gain mass before going back to melting.
- Space the sessions targeting the majority of muscle groups (with the exception of the calves and abs) at least 72 hours. If you work the triceps on Monday, you can attack them again on Thursday.
- Avoid devoting successive sessions to the squat and the deadlift. Try to space them 72 hours apart. Remember that the secondary muscles are used during compound exercises, and schedule your sessions based on that.
- For example, the front deltoids are stressed during chest press movements, so avoid working the shoulders and chest on two consecutive days. On the contrary, take at least 48 hours of rest between these sessions, or work these muscles together so that they can recover at the same time.
- Cardio can deplete your reserves. Avoid aerobic exercise that places a heavy strain on the lower body the day before leg sessions.
7) Do a full job
With the exception of the lucky ones who have too much muscle, bodybuilders rarely neglect the biceps or pecs. On the other hand, too many beginners and veterans skip cardio, stretching and abs, which do not provide the pleasant muscle congestion of the curl or bench press, and they often forget to incorporate the small muscle groups such as the forearms. You may not be aware that this is hampering the progress of some essential aspects of bodybuilding, and therefore the overall results.
- Work on small muscle groups. Plan for abs, calves, forearms, lower back and trapezius work in one session of your program. In fact, abs and calves can be trained more often than other muscle groups. Likewise, always keep a place for cardio instead of only doing it when you have the time.
- Prepare a module for each muscle group? Instead of making a module for the legs, make a module for the quadriceps, a module for the pistachios and a module for the calves, even if they are performed successively during the same session. Similarly, devote a module to the trapezoids instead of doing them at the end of the session for the shoulders or the back. Find a way to work the muscles you tend to neglect, like the abs. For example, do sets of abs between sets working on another muscle group, such as the shoulders.
8) Aim at your target
Abs, back, quadriceps, triceps, and trapezius. What do they have in common? These are complex muscle groups with several well-defined areas that can be difficult to target properly. Too many bodybuilders mistakenly think of working the lower dorsals or the vast outer quadriceps, which results in inadequate recruitment.
- Improve your knowledge of anatomy. Do not hesitate to learn the anatomical plates illustrating certain muscles. For example, deltoids and triceps are made up of three bundles. To target them correctly, you need to know where they are.
- Learn how to hit the bull’s eye. We have divided this number into different parts focusing on how to solicit specific areas. Sometimes the best exercise can be surprising, but trust us: the methods we give you are based on proven formulas and the latest scientific studies so that you know exactly how to work each muscle.
- Choose your targets. It’s up to you to stress the muscles and muscle areas that you want to develop the most in order to build a balanced physique.
9) Slow and progressive work
The simplest training technique is to stay within a medium range of reps and avoid going after stretches and contractions, which is why bodybuilders focus on the middle portion of the range of motion. In doing so, they minimize their earnings. It can happen with any muscle group, but it’s especially true for the legs. Too many bodybuilders do short and quick reps on squats, leg presses, and standing calves. This allows you to take heavier without requesting more muscle. However, to optimize mass gain, it is necessary to stress the muscles using movements in full amplitude.
- Learn to perform each exercise with a full range of motion, and choose a load that allows you to do at least eight reps this way.
- During the reps, forget the load and focus on the muscle contraction.
- You can lengthen certain streaks by doing quick partial reps, but only after reaching failure with full reps.
10) Vary the pleasures
The most common mistake made in training is to keep the same program beyond its useful life. A lack of imagination pushes some people to repeat the same exercises in the same order. Others allow themselves to be overrun by inertia and automatically do the same exercises, with the same number of reps and the same loads. Result: an absence of new stimulus forcing the muscles to adapt. If you get continued earnings with a program, keep it. If not, it’s time to change.
- As with advice number 8, sometimes the problem is linked to a lack of knowledge. Learn which exercises stimulate different muscle groups. You will be surprised by all the possible variations for movements as limited as the shrug and the bending of the wrists.
- Try all the machines in the room. Sometimes subtle differences in the placement of pulleys and hinges can transform the way two similar machines stress muscles.
- The choice of exercises is not the only parameter that you can manipulate. You can also adjust the number of sets per exercise, the number of reps per set, the order of the exercises and the order of the distribution of sessions.
- Cheated reps should only be used to push streaks beyond failure to full amplitude. Use a range of 8 to 12 reps for most series. Take the effective series to the stage where you can no longer perform a complete rep alone with a rigorous technique.
- Focus on bodyweight exercises and free weights.
- Push a few effective sets beyond failure, and vary the workout to maintain good intensity.
- Allow at least 72 hours of rest between training the same muscle group. Take the time to work the smaller muscle groups, and dedicate a special session to them instead of incorporating them into training other muscles.
- Improve your knowledge of anatomy, and learn to target specific areas. Learn to perform each exercise with full range of motion, and choose a load that allows you to do at least 8 reps this way. Do a variety of workouts and change the settings for your sessions.