YOU'RE MAKING GAINS!
You’ve found your groove, a program that’s working for you. Your nutrition is on point. You’re getting adequate rest. And the gains are evident. You’re gaining muscle, gaining strength, losing fat and progressing every week. That’s great!
But….are you leaving additional gains on the table?
Here a few simple tweaks that may help you maximize your gains.
Concentrate on Using Perfect Form
Don’t let you quest for progress cause a breakdown in form. Good form trumps everything. Breaking form leads to cheating (no matter how minor) and that means a wasted effort.
Bad form also opens you up for injury and I can guarantee injury will stop or even reverse your hard earned gains. Have someone else check your form periodically to make sure you don't stray.
Concentrate on the Negative Portion of the lift.
The negative (or eccentric) portion of the lift can actually provide more stimuli to the muscle than the positive (or concentric) part of the lift. Lower the weight slowly-fighting the force of gravity all the way down. Use a lowering tempo of 3 to 5 seconds for the eccentric phase.
Lowering the weight slowly will also force you to concentrate more on form and strengthen the mind-muscle connection…another plus.
Squeeze the Muscle at the Top of the Lift
Squeeze the affected muscle at the top for at least a count of 2. This “isometric squeeze” adds extra tension and stress to the muscle and provides higher blood concentration in the muscle.
As you complete the eccentric portion of the last rep of the last set of an exercise, hold the load in the bottom position with the muscle in question in a fully stretched position. Hold this position for a count of 10 to 15 seconds with a goal of 30 seconds. You can even hold for longer periods of time up to ALAP (as long as possible) Probably the best illustration of a weight stretch position is to picture the bottom position of the dumbbell fly.
(A) is the position where you use the "squeeze"
(B) is the "weighted stretch position"
The weighted stretch has the same benefits as the isometric squeeze with the added benefit of helping stretch the fascia surrounding the muscle thus giving the muscle bundles more room to grow. (Picture Saran Wrap around muscles or bundles of muscles)
(Fascia-From the superficial (“body stocking”) fascia, it dives deep and forms the pods (called fascicles) that actually create your musculature like a honeycomb from the inside out. Imagine what it looks like when you bite into a wedge of orange and then look at those individually wrapped pods of juice.We’re like that too!
If you’re making gains you know you’re on the right path. Use these hints and minor tweaks to maximize your progress.