As a personal trainer, I have noticed that 1 out of 10 people get stuck at a plateau when it comes to building size and strength. Even though they keep grinding day after day, the results happen slower than a snail’s pace.
I myself got stuck. My plateau was when I reached the weight of 185 lbs. I kept going day after day – tried changing workouts, changed the diet, even hired a coach for myself. But nothing changed. I did get leaner but there was no significant increase in strength, maybe just around 10 lbs increase. It was like that from around April 2019 to August 2020.
Of course we all know the situation of 2020. When the gyms finally opened around September 2020, I decided to do something out of the box. And now in March 2021, I am standing at 224 lbs and massive increase in strength.
Here are the 3 hacks to increase your overall strength that I used and which now I am sharing with you, my readers –
Add Resistance to your Warm ups
Resistance bands and chains are used for a various number of exercises (barbell, kettlebell, freehand), but here is the hack – if you use resistance to your warm up it plays with your nervous system and shocks your muscles, loosening them up. It also helps in tightening your CORE. If your core is tight, every lift is easier, stronger and less prone to injury.
The best use of this is for Squats. To increase your squat strength, add bands to each end of the barbell, locked at the bottom of the cage with band pegs or looped into a knot. Perform your warm-up sets. As you lower into the squat, the band tension will assist you; as you power upward, the band tension will resist you. Essentially, you’ve now reversed your body’s expected resistance, causing the squat to feel easier going down and tougher going up.
Perform Negative reps
What is a negative set you ask? A negative rep is like it sounds, a negative. It is easier to explain with an example. So, to increase your benching strength and go to absolute failure you will need to do negative reps. That is, instead of focusing on the push to the top you will be focusing on lowering the bar.
You will have to imagine yourself as a spring. You will be lowering the bar from the top to your chest, very very slow. As if like a spring, contracting slowly. Then when you reach the bottom, push the bar up explosively, just like the spring bounce. Use a spotter to help you with the push but then lower it without the extra help. The same can be done with deadlifts, squats, shoulder press, lat pull, biceps, triceps, basically every exercise. Slow negatives can produce DOMS like nothing else, though, so handle with care, lighten the weight, and be prepared to struggle – in a good way.
Overshoot the Working set
A classic strength-building hack is to ramp up your low-rep sets beyond your working weight. When you come back down to your working weight, it’ll feel like a feather! For example, let’s say your working set weight for squats or bench or any other exercise is 100 lbs. Do a couple of warm up sets with more than a 100 lbs. Do not mistake me here, I am not asking you to shoot a Personal Record. Use help from a spotter or do it by yourself, use your usual heavy weight to do 1 or 2 sets of 3-4 reps. Then take a minute’s rest and bring the weight down to your working set. It will feel like a feather. Then gradually you keep increasing that.
Depending on your level of training, these 3 hack tips can help maximize gym time and improve overall strength and performance. So try these hacks out soon.
Happy workout and welcome your gains.