By Elizabeth "Leisa" Redmon
It happens. We get bored and find ourselves dreading our training sessions. Before we know it we find ourselves in a routine--Monday yields back squats, Wednesday reaks of shoulder presses, Friday is always dia de los deadlifts, and then we have those random conditioning sessions in between...with no real progress. Sometimes we might even “cherry pick” and find ourselves doing something completely different than our scheduled workout, again, only to wind up with no real, measurable progress.
Unfortunately, though, we know consistency and dedication are the only sure ways to find success in our training, so, it’s up to us (or our coach) to keep fitness and training interesting.
To “spice” things up and keep you on track towards your goals, try these strength traning tips for a few weeks and see if you notice any progress!
1. Tempo Training
Ever plateaued on a lift and no matter what you do, you can't seem to break past that certain weight? This could be the result of a number of reasons, like the lack of variance in your program or perhaps you've developed some technical flaws.
Tempo training--slowing down the eccentric portion (the lowering phase of the movement) and/or the concentric portion (the lifting phase of the movement), is an excellent way to increase your time under tension, in turn forcing you to control the movement and teach the "mind-muscle connection" that we all seek when trying to activate muscle groups.
Another good way to change up your training and keep intensity high is to use supersets--going from one movement immediately to another movement and then resting after both movements are complete.
Supersets can be done with the same muscle groups or opposing muscle groups.
For example, a common superset might be 8 reps of bench press followed by 15 push ups, with 2 minutes of rest in between sets. For opposing muscle groups? Try 5 reps of a medium weight barbell row followed by 8 strict handstand push ups.
The creativity and control is completely in your court, but, just be careful not to overdo it. Supersets, like tempo training, can damage the muscles more than you think, so step in and allow your body to adapt to the different stimuli and allow for proper recovery.
3. Focus on Your Weakness
As athletes of all calibers and mediums, we strive to be as balanced as possible in our training. We want our pushing and pulling strength to be proportional with virtually no imbalances in which to speak. Unfortunately, if we aren't careful, we can easily create imbalances by spending too much time avoicing opposing muscle groups. For example, say you have a great squat. It's strong, you exhibit good mobility, and you seem to hit your percentages consistently. But! You avoid the deadlift. You even cringe when you hear heavy deadlifts programmed in your next competition.
This awareness, alone, is an excellent first step in taking some time to take the focus from the quadricep to the hamstring (posterior chain), as well as developing some pulling strength that squatting alone, lacks. Just remember, if you tend to avoid a movement because of it's difficulty, it's probably a great idea to start implementing that movement, as well as some accessory movements, to improve your fitness as a whole.
Training is a long-term game. It's not meant to be done temporarily, and temporary results were never the product of champions. So keep your eyes on the bigger goal, maybe try your hand at some of these new training tools, and most importantly: stay dedicated to the program.
WANT TO GET MORE TIPS? READ PART 2 HERE