Constant Change For Results
The body has incredible adaptive capabilities. The implication of this for bodybuilding is that your body quickly adapts to a specific training regimen. Therefore for continued progress you must constantly change your training techniques to force your body to make new adaptations, namely, to grow new muscle tissue.
Changing your workouts can involve a wide variety of training techniques. The most basic principle is to keep attempting to lift heavier weights for more repetitions. More weight puts your muscles under more stress and they must respond to this stress by growing.
Make a goal to be progressive in your approach to training. Challenge yourself and aspire to get stronger, especially in basic lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press and rows. Focus on getting stronger and your muscles will respond. Just be sure to remember to try your best to maintain good form to prevent injury.
A common technique used by many bodybuilders is to never do the same workout for the same body part twice in a row. In fact, many trainers have two structured workouts for each muscle group. For example, one chest workout may include barbell bench press, dumbbell flyes and dips. The next chest session would involve flat dumbbell press, incline barbell press and peck deck flyes. The combinations are endless and you have the ability to choose and mix up your favourite exercises.
Another common approach is to vary the set and rep patterns from one workout to the next. For instance, one squat workout could consist of 4 sets of 8 reps and the next workout could be 2 sets of 25 reps. Lower reps generally build strength and mass whereas higher reps build muscular endurance. By constantly changing these patterns you get the benefit of both strategies and you do not allow your body to get used to any particular style.
You could also simply completely change your workout routine every 3-5 weeks. You can change the exercises that you are performing, the type of training split that you are using and the set/rep patterns. For example, if you have been doing a push/pull/legs split, you could change it to upper body one day and lower body the next or you could change to doing one muscle group per day, once a week. The possibilities are endless.
In addition to changing your training split every few weeks, you can switch to different exercises. If you have been focusing on wide arm chins, barbell rows and close grip pulldowns for your back, you could change to wide arm pulldowns, one arm dumbbell rows and low pulley rows. Also, if you had been focusing on doing 3 sets of 10 reps, you can update that to 4 sets of 8 reps.
Speaking of set and rep sequences, there are a few highly effective and yet little known training protocols that you should try to really “shock” your body. Three of these are the 5×5, 8×8 and 10×3 routines. The 5×5 routine will have you doing 5 sets of 5 reps. Use a weight that is equal to a 6 rep maximum and try to do 5 sets of 5 reps with it. Only rest about one minute in between sets. Your muscles will be burning.
For the 8×8 regimen, choose a weight that you can perform 12 strict reps with and then attempt to perform 8 sets of 8 reps with only a maximum of 45 seconds rest in between sets. The pump when you do this is unbelievable.
The 10×3 workout is a strength and size building killer routine. Choose a weight that is your 5 rep maximum and perform 10 sets of 3 reps, resting as needed between sets. This is an extreme challenge and should only be used with basic compound multi-joint exercises. It works really well with squats, deadlifts and bench press. Keep adding weight from one workout to the next and you will get bigger and stronger.
Total body workouts, supersetting, circuit training and volume training are all methods that involve a radically different training protocol. There is a totally endless variety of workout approaches to try. Only a few have been touched upon here but the basic principles are the same. Change shocks the body and forces it to grow. It is also good for the mind as doing the same thing over and over gets boring.