SportsTwo ways to breathe life into your old program

Two ways to breathe life into your old program

Two ways to breathe life into your old program

The definition of insanity was once explained to me as doing the same thing over and over again yet expecting different results. We see this day in and day out in the gym; people coming in, doing the same workout, using the same weights week after week, talking about how they are going to “put on some size” or “cut up”.

The truth that people fail to realize, or choose not to believe is that there is no one magic program that will work for everyone, or forever. Yet “Johnny” will pass the worn out program, carefully printed on a worn piece of paper, to his friend like a religious icon holding the secrets to a better body.

Let me tell you something, your body is lazy; don’t get me wrong, my body is also lazy. What do I mean? Well our bodies will only adapt enough to do the work we are asking it to do and not a lick more. So if you’re benching 200lb for four sets of ten, twice a week after a few weeks, no matter how often you do that workout throughout the year, nothing is going to change. Your body will get just strong enough to do that job. What are some ways that we can force our bodies out of laziness?  Some people get stumped when it comes to changing or updating their program or refuse to because the same program worked for a friend.

Here are two simple ways to add life to your current program:

(1) Progressive overload.  This is the method of imposing gradual increased demands on the body, thus forcing gradual changes in our body composition. Progressive overload is done by slowly increasing the weight or the sets or reps of a chosen exercise.  Let’s take “Johnny” again, who is benching 200lbs twice a week for four sets of ten. After two weeks he has hit all the target reps of ten under this weight, that’s four workouts and his muscles have adapted. “Johnny” would then increase the weight by ten pounds and start the cycle over again forcing his body to adapt by getting strong enough to do 210lbs for all four sets. He may only hit ten on the first two sets and fall around eight for the next two; this gives him something to work toward on the following work out. This cycle can be repeated for quite a while breathing life again into your program each time.

Eventually you will get to a weight that is not going to move up any further; then we can add another set, keeping in mind to keep our total amount of sets to about twenty five for the whole workout. If there is any confusion about rep ranges, here are the basics: strength is one to six, muscle growth is eight to twelve and endurance is fifteen to twenty reps.

(2) Time under tension. How many times do you see someone get into an exercise and they start pumping the weights up and down like they are trying to put out a fire? You can’t even see the weight because it is moving so fast.

Time under tension refers to the amount of time the muscle is under the load. So taking “Johnny” and his bench press once more, if he does each rep at quick pace of one to one that translates to one second up and one second down; that would mean the complete set of 10 would take 20 seconds, so he lifted 200lbs for 20 seconds. Now if you lifted with a two count up and a two count down his chest would be under tension for 40 seconds. This is a large variation and will play a big difference in your program and body composition.

A break-down for what I have found to be some of the better time under tension time ranges would be 4 to 20 seconds for strength, 40 to 60 seconds for growth and 70 to 80 seconds for endurance. Speed and momentum are outside forces and can take away from what your muscle is actually doing; this is a concern especially when your goal is muscular growth.

So challenge your body and lift slower and you will have breathed new life into your program.

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