What can a bodybuilder do to break a plateau? Advanced bodybuilding training techniques are applied on an occasional basis to introduce variety into the bodybuilding routine in order to further stimulate muscle growth. The purpose of such bodybuilding techniques is to take the muscle beyond the point of failure. Muscular failure is the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible and also the point that stimulates the muscle to grow. Most of these advanced bodybuilding training techniques should only be used sparingly; do not use them on every workout or else you risk overtraining and/or injury. Supersets, tri-sets, and giant-sets, however, are the exception to this rule and can be used on every workout.
Weight training aims to build muscle by prompting two different types of hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy leads to larger muscles and so is favored by bodybuilders more than myofibrillar hypertrophy, which builds athletic strength. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is triggered by increasing repetitions, whereas myofibrillar hypertrophy is triggered by lifting heavier weight. In either case, there is an increase in both size and strength of the muscles (compared to what happens if that same individual does not lift weights at all), however, the emphasis is different.
In the 60’s most workouts were geared for 3 days a week. Upper body was done on one day and lower on the next. The gains came pretty good because there was enough rest time in-between the workouts and body parts. The sets and reps were 3 sets per exercise with 8 to 10 reps. This was very basic, but worked for most people, as it wasn’t over training.
You know the deep burn you feel in your muscles after sprinting up several flights of stairs or pounding out 12 to 15 reps on your last set of heavy squats? That’s the result of metabolic stress, which is the accumulation of waste products from anaerobic energy production, and research shoes that it can be a powerful stimulus for adaptation (i.e., muscle growth). Want to maximize metabolic stress? Do moderate-duration, high-intensity activities that causes burning in the muscles; think 45 seconds of max-effort bodyweight squat-to-presses or lunge-to-curls, or 30 seconds of max-effort sprinting.
Doing at least eight sets per muscle is enough to get some muscle growth but, it can depend on how many reps you're doing. Eight to twelve reps is great, while doing any more may be unnecessary, depending on your body type. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to do 25 sets for squats and about 10 reps, whereas his friend Franco Columbu only did five sets of squats and 10 reps.
People who exercise have different requirements because the more you exercise, the more you have to eat to sustain that level of activity. This also applies to casual exercisers, but it may not apply to you if fat loss is one of the reasons you took up weight training. In this case, you need to create an energy deficit; which means that the energy (or calories) you consume in food is less than the energy you expend in exercise and daily living. Your weight training, in this case, is to assist with fat loss while attempting to maintain muscle.
Building muscle also helps burn fat. Performing heavy weight, low rep exercises designed to build mass results in more lean muscle tissue. This tissue raises your metabolism, which heightens the rate you burn calories. To put it simply, the more lean muscle you build, the better your cut will go. Ditch the idea of shrinking your body and instead think of reshaping it.
“The stimulus to put on muscle that won’t be beneficial for running is much higher than people realize, and unless you’re either lifting relatively heavy and frequently and/or eating a hyper caloric diet, you’re unlikely to put on muscle,” says Joe Holder, USATF-certified running coach, Nike+ Run Club coach in New York City. “Just think about strength training one to two times a week, focusing on compound movement patterns, such as a lunge or squat, and shoring up the areas that could lead to increased injury if they are weak, like the hips.”
JDB, great tip on cardio before weights. Having trained in a boxing gym for years, this is exactly how I would start each training session, even if I was going to focus on weights that day. Use to start off, 3-4 rounds on jump rope in the ring, alternating between fast high knees and then slowing it down. It was all continuous for about 10-12 minutes. Would then continue w basic calisthenics (mountain climbers, bw squats, burpees, etc.) for another 3-4 rounds. This was all done w boxing timer running in background. Would finish “warm-up” w some kind of pull-up/chin-up, dips, and hanging abdominal work. Then it was time for weights. This just overall improved my general conditioning/movement and never felt that my strength diminished when doing this. Actually, felt stronger due to increased blood flow.