Most of us have a tried and tested routine, however we often hit plateaus. Here are a few simple Style Council methods to spice it up and negate boring repetition.
- Move Chest Day
This might not sound ground-breaking, but Monday is infamously known as ‘International Chest Day’ for a reason. It is hard to put a finger on it; however male testosterone kicks in after the weekend and dictates that they must bench press at the beginning of the week. A plague of grunting men and bars clanking against metal can be heard from the vicinity of any gym.
Instead of waiting around and slowing the tempo of your workout, try legs or back on a Monday. Chances are the squat rack will be freely available and you will be able to enjoy an uninterrupted, intense workout.
- Incline First
Development of the chest is a gym buff favourite – a mirror muscle and t-shirt filler. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon to find scanning through a gym that the majority of people have a much thicker bottom half of the chest.
When it comes to chest day; going through most people’s minds as they enter those holy gym doors, is that they want to rep out as much weight as possible on a flat barbell bench press.
The middle of the chest is best stimulated through this method and it is a great way of developing the middle chest. To best stimulate the upper chest, perform a barbell/dumbbell press at a 30-45% incline.
You already include incline exercises in your routine? Good, but if they are a secondary press in your workout, you won’t reach maximum growth. The upper chest will already be pre-fatigued due to flat pressing and will significantly lower the amount of weight you could be pushing.
By mixing it up and starting with inclined will produce a fuller, desirable chest and can even help smash through plateaus on your flat bench press.
- Widen Your Squat Stance
The traditional narrow stance of feet shoulder-width apart when it comes to squats is a wonderful quadriceps burner. The squat is a goliath exercise; it utilises a number of muscles, developing strong, powerful legs and creating a solid posture.
Taking a wider stance gives the same great quad activation level, yet works a greater number of muscles and comes with a number of distinct advantages.
The glutes (or bum cheeks), are a great source of power and are triggered at a superior level when taking a widened foot-position.
The allowance getting deeper with your squat means the glutes are activated to a greater degree than with narrow squats, according to research from the University of Abertay, Dundee.
Not just women can have booty.
Narrow stance squats provide a substantial burn on the quadriceps. Most of us go by “feel”, it there’s a deep burning sensation it results in success and we may not get that same feel from a wider stance. Despite this lesser “feel”, the activation is still there.
Not only that, narrower stances put a greater stress on the knee joints than a wider stance. In time this could result in patellar tendon strains or tendonitis. In other words, you may be walking like a penguin in a few years’ time.
Hips Don’t Lie
Like glutes, hips are another strong source of power. The wide stance exhibits a larger hip flexion and a bigger range of hip extension.
Stronger hip flexors provide improvement in a number of things, including power through various lifts i.e. squats/deadlifts, they are useful for sprinters (greater power for greater acceleration) and can handle a remarkable amount of stress, not just in the gym but in life.
- Pull Up over Pull Down
Lat Pull-Downs is a firm favourite when it comes to creating an envious V-shape taper. The strong contrast between a slim waist and broad lats is any bodybuilder’s dream.
However, going for bodyweight pull-ups is a useful way of enlivening your training. Being able to perform numerous repetitions of wide-grip pulls is an impressive feat, even more so when you can add weight to it.
It also elicits the core and stabilizing muscles much more than what pull downs do, which is a major advantage.
This does not mean there is no place for pull downs; perhaps use them as a workout finisher to get that final muscle-building overload.
- Cut Your Rest
If you’re not progressive overloading, you are going to struggle to see a difference. Cutting down rest times is a simple yet very effective way of bursting through plateaus and shocking your body into growing.
Reducing rest time increases your tempo and is a great advantage when reaching hypertrophy.
Many professional bodybuilders go by 30-60 second intervals between sets for optimum hypertrophy.
With reduced rest your body will have to adapt to doing more work in less time and increases blood pushed around your muscles – which you will get a crazy pump from.
Your metabolic rate will also spike, meaning that you have an increased capacity to burn fat and calories. A leaner physique can’t be a bad thing.