If you've spent any time in the gym or have read fitness articles you've more than likely come across articles or method of getting yourself out of a rut. In the gym world we call this a plateau.
It's a moment in time we'll come to face and unfortunately we'll face it more than once. That's right; you'll run into this evil creature many times throughout your fitness lifetime.
But stop right there! In today's super-efficient environment, wouldn't we be foolish if we waited until we reached a plateau or fell into a rut? The answer is, yes we would. Avoiding leveling out is something we can steer clear of by constantly planning for change.
The most valuable lesson I've learned in being crowned world natural figure champion 4 years in a row and more recently becoming an IFBB Figure pro is that I owe a big percentage to knowing what I was going to do before I set out to do it.
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Author, Angela Mraz: 'Avoiding Leveling Out Is Something
We Can Steer Clear Of By Constantly Planning For Change.'
A Sample Training Rotation
Normally I'll work out in three week cycles. I've found this to be the best measure of repetition in "same exercises" in order to avoid a plateau or falling into a rut.
My workout is planned out in advance; body parts to work per day, total days per week to work out, exercises to perform, sets and rep counts.
From the following example you can easily see the variation of exercises performed per body part and days the body part is trained.
Of course you're going to do more than just one exercise per body part, but I wanted to keep the example short and clear.
Week 1 Through 3:
- Barbell Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Tuesday: Chest, Shoulders And Triceps
- Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Military Press: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Triceps Pushdowns: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Thursday: Back, Biceps And Abs
- Bent Over Barbell Rows: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Barbell Curls: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Crunches: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
- Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Saturday: Calves And Abs
Week 4 Through 6:
Sunday: Shoulders And Biceps
Monday: Calves And Abs
Thursday: Chest And Triceps
- Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Being Creative In Your Workouts
Sample Shoulders And Biceps Day:
Basic is where it's at for me to add more size. Typically shoulders and biceps don't seem to want to go together on the same day in the gym but were being creative, right?
However, my training routine for this cycle incorporates shoulders and biceps to be worked twice per week. So on Sundays (for this cycle) you can find me doing the assortment of exercises for shoulders and biceps.
Key ingredients for a good, results oriented workout:
- Be mentally prepared before you step foot through the door of the gym. Those steps from car to front door of the gym should be intense. You have 40 minutes inside that gym, make it count. Have everything at the ready: gloves, iPod, belts, straps, water bottle, whatever!
- What are you going to do once you get inside? My trainer maps everything out days, most times weeks in advance. Exercises, sets, rep counts, rest, etc. I just go from apparatus to dumbbell, etc. If a machine or dumbbell is in use a back-up exercise is already in place, so the "flow" never wanes.
- Drink a carb/protein shake before heading to the gym, and sip on water and/or a carb/protein shake during your workout. You will be amazed at the increase in energy level you have before and during your workout.
Here is a sample shoulders and biceps workout to keep things creative:
- Practice good form when "lifting" the weights. Feel the muscle work. You've heard of the mind to muscle connection, implement it!
When in the seated position I lower the barbell "behind" my head. If you're not using the Smith Machine make sure you have a spotter to help you get the weight back on to the rests.
When using heavy weight, injury to your shoulders can occur when you're placing the bar back on to the holding pins.
Also, I don't favor a "too wide" of a grip - this also wears away at the mechanics of the shoulder and sets you up for injury.
If you're lifting alone - use the smith machine for this exercise, if you have a spotter I would use the free weight machine.
Seated Barbell Military Press
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Seated Barbell Military Press.
For this exercise I use my weight belt and keep the movement to the front (lower the bar until the biceps/triceps are parallel to the ground). Caution: use light weights until you get the true hang of doing this exercise.
Standing Military Press
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Standing Military Press.
I prefer a narrow grip on the bar, maybe 12-18 inches between my hands. Don't cheat those reps up.
Standing Front Barbell Raise Over Head
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Standing Front Barbell Raise Over Head.
I like this movement for the value of its feel at low weight. There is also more "play" available for changing angle of attack and really feeling the muscle work.
Side Lateral Raise
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Side Lateral Raise.
Points to make for this exercise is keeping your elbows as close to your sides as possible and not letting the weight "drop" back down after curling it up to your chest. Mix it up by doing both arms at the same time or alternating from arm to arm.
Incline Dumbbell Curl
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Incline Dumbbell Curl.
I feel this in the "lower" portion of my biceps which helps to create the lower sweep out and make the biceps look "complete".
Heavy weight is not the goal here since I want to save my elbows for more important things like bending sin pain.
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Preacher Curl.
I use a straight or curved bar, whatever is available at the time I hit the cable machine.
Squeeze your biceps at the "top" and hold that squeeze as hard as you can for 2-3 seconds, then slowly lower back down.
Standing Biceps Cable Curl
Click Here For A Video Demonstration Of Standing Biceps Cable Curl.