If you want to pack on muscle size and strength, you need to keep challenging yourself to basically do more work – one way or another. Over the course of several weights workouts, you will get used to the tension of training. The weights you used to find hard to lift, seem light. When you can carry out 15-25 reps with a specific weight, you are working out at too small a percentage of your 1 Rep Max to successfully hypertrophy your muscles. Therefore you ought to increase the intensity to create more increases in absolute strength. There are many ways of doing this, but here are three you should master first of all:
- Resistance: At the beginning, increases in absolute strength are due to the brain activating more motor units. This physiological condition is a result of increasing resistance. Every motor unit encourages numerous muscle fibres to contract. So, the more motor units called into play, the more muscle fibres will contract to work against the resistance, which expands strength instantly. Extra strength increases due to a rise in the contractile proteins (myosin and actin) and in increased activity at the cell level. This activity at the microscopic level stimulates the muscles at the cellular level, which is what most guys in the gym wish for.
- Rest Intervals: The rest periods taken between training reps or individual exercise cycles is reduced. You can reduce rest between sets, but still challenge yourself to get the same number of reps as your last workout.
- Duration: is applicable to how long a training session takes to carry out, and is thus more pertinent to cardio training than lifting weights. However, over the course of several months, you should try and increase the total number of sets for each area of the body. For most people, starting a training cycle on about 6 sets per bodypart, and then gradually increasing to 15 sets at the end of a training phase, is a good way to up the intensity in terms of volume. At the end of such a training phase, you would drop back down to 6 sets per bodypart and change exercises too, to add freshness to your program.
In terms of strength increases, the best way to increase intensity is to just strain as hard as you can on the heavy weights. Most people don’t realise how quickly they give up when the reps get hard. But you need to try and hold the weight in place and resist gravity at the end of your sets. This will send neurological triggers to your brain and body. It gets you stronger. It is the most important thing to do while you are “under the bar” so to speak. It’s relevance to MMA is very important, especially for the grappler. Being able to develop static strength is vital. So you should incorporate this into your weights workouts. A lot of guys never train static strength at all. But it has great carry over to concentric and eccentric strength. Good exercises to train static strength on are:
- pull ups and chins
- bench press and variations
- bicep curls
- leg curls
- back extensions
- all manner of grip work
Try all of the above in your weight sessions and you will notice the difference in a couple of workouts. Remember – no strain, no gain!