A Simple Strength Training Program For Men

I was tired of doing the same old workouts I had been doing.  The same strength training programs laid out in magazines and books.  It seemed that as I added more exercises I wound up not making any gains in muscle.

Putting on muscle is not hard.  All it takes is learning simple exercises and techniques in a strength training program in order to see a difference.

Back when I was just starting out and for years after that I made a common mistake.  I figured that adding muscle meant adding more exercises, more sets, spending a long time in the gym and going as heavy as possible.  The more sore I was, the better my results in the future right?

Well I was wrong.

You can probably relate.  Chances are you have been in this situation or are going through it right now.

You have gone through the drill of super heavy long workouts and done all the exercises that others recommend that you do and still you don’t make noticeable gains.  Well the best ways to see improvements is by changing your strength training workouts right now and go back to basics.

Simple Workouts Regardless of Skill Level

This is the misconception most of us have.  When you hear the words BASIC or SIMPLE we think it applies for the beginner.  You think that you will not benefit from trying a simple approach because you have some workouts or many workouts under your belt.

Honestly, going back to basics is often all you need to make progress no matter what your skill level, whether you have been lifting weights for 1 week or many years.

Basic Does Not Equal Easy

When it comes to putting on muscle you will get the best results using basic exercises.  The exercises should be easy to do but not so easy that you are coasting by with each set.  Effort is important if you expect to see progress.

In order to see results in muscle building you need to make sure you do the following:

  1. Lift heavier with every workout
  2. Do more reps with each workout

It is important to go in and come out aiming to do personal bests.  It is not possible to  lift heavier and heavier week after week, at some point you will hit a wall or a plateau,  but you definitely need to improve either by going heavier than the week before or doing more repetitions each week.  Those are the two things you need to aim for if you want to see muscle gains.

If you are looking to gain muscle start by lifting heavy at a weight you can only lift for 5 repetitions.  The aim is to try and increase the number of repetitions you can complete with each set.  Try to increase your reps until you can do 10 reps in a set.

Once you are able to complete 10 repetitions per set increase the weight by 5 to 10 pounds.  Once you increase the weight you should be able to complete a maximum of 5 reps.  Again, try to increase your reps and once you can do 10 reps increase the weight again.

It is important to follow this type of progression.  In order for the muscle to grow it needs to experience more stress or progressive overload.  As the muscle experiences heavier weight it then has to adapt and grow.

Build A Solid Foundation Of Exercises

If you want to see results you will have to do exercises that are the backbone of a good muscle building program.  A handful of compound movements should be the exercises that you focus on in order to see the best results and quickest gains.

The following exercises should be part of your routine:

Your focus should be primarily on working with these exercises and making consistent gains.  I know you want to do certain exercises like a series of biceps curls and triceps extensions so you can get bigger arms but if you want to gain muscle mass those exercises will not help you very much.  Don’t worry, they can be included in your strength training program but they should not be your primary focus.

The exercises mentioned above are known as compound movements.  These types of exercises will work a maximum number of muscle groups and muscle fibers and help you increase levels of testosterone if you are a guy.

Avoid Overtraining By Working Out Less

I always thought that being in the gym as many days out of the week as possible was best when trying to put on mass.  But you have noticed that working out more has never lead to massive gains.  Unless you have amazing genetics (and 95 percent of us don’t) then chances are this did not work for you either.

If you want to see muscle gains you will have to structure your strength training workouts in a way that will allow more rest days.

Rather than working out every day it is best if you do 3 to 4 workouts in a span of 7 days.  Allow at least one day in between workouts for rest and recuperation.

It may be tempting to do strength training on consecutive days but if your goal is to gain muscle it is best to resist and stay from the weights, rest and allow the muscle to recover and grow.

It is important to remember that the process of muscle growth does not rely solely on workouts, it is also important to rest so that the muscle can handle heavier loads.

Getting Back In the Swing of Things

You can easily structure a workout program on 3 basic lifts:

  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Squats

For a beginne and for someone who has been away from weight training for a while or someone who wants to get back to basics a workout consisting of just these 3 exercises will help you put on mass and prepare you for working with heavier weight.

Your training schedule using 3 basic lifts should be broken down to 3 days a week with a day break in between.  So your workouts schedule can look like this:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday

Or

  • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday

You are leaving a day or two of rest in between to allow the muscle to recover.

Perform each exercise for 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions and rest 3 minutes between sets.

Make sure you complete your all sets of one exercise before you move on to the next.

Make sure to start with a relatively heavy weight you can complete for 5 repetitions and work on trying to do more reps with every workout.  Once you reach 10 reps it is time to increase the weight enough so you can do 5 reps.

Stick with this for a maximum of 6 to 8 weeks and take one week off at the end of this cycle.

Make sure that you take the needed one week off if you want to avoid overtraining, otherwise you will risk interrupting any gains you have made.

Some people choose to train using only these exercises 3 days a week for a long period of time but if you want to maximize your gains it is best to add what are called assistive exercises.  You can add assistive exercises once you are done with your first cycle of workouts using the 3 basic lifts along with other compound movements.

For someone who is more at an intermediate or advanced level you can include assistive exercises along with your compound lifts.  You can feel free to move beyond the 3 days/ 3 lifts I outlined above.

A More Advanced Strength Training Program

I really wish I had learned some of the tips I am showing here.  Unfortunately it is common for anyone to fall for more complicated workouts using a long sequence of single joint movements that are unnecessary.

If you have been training for a while and people still ask you if you lift weights after all this time it is an embarrassing feeling.  I know because I have been there.

If this is your case then it is time to switch it up and constantly challenge your body.

The following workout is a sample of a mass gaining and simple strength training program for men you can start using today.  This is a perfect workout for someone who has been training for a while or is beyond the beginning stages.

Here we will follow a 4 day split

Workout schedule should allow at least one day rest in between each day.

  • Day 1: Barbell Military Press, Chin Ups, Dumbbell Bench Press, Cable Rows and Barbell Curl
  • Day 2: Squats, Back Extension, Barbell or Dumbbell Shrugs, Calf Raise
  • Day 3: Incline Bench Press, Barbell Rows, Pull Ups, Dumbbell Biceps Curl
  • Day 4: Deadlift, Lunges, Calf Raises

Rest periods will be 2 minutes per set on all exercises except for the Squat on Day 2 and the Deadlift on Day 4.

Each exercise will be of 5-8 reps and 2 sets each. Start with a weight that is your 5 rep max and aim for 8 reps.  Once you can complete 8 reps increase the weight.  Just like the 3 day/ 3 exercises split your goal should be to increase the weight you can lift over time.

After doing this workout program for a total of 6 to 8 weeks make sure you take 1 week off.

Include cardio, specifically intervals on your off ideas in order to keep the muscle and maintain your fat percentage as low as possible.

This sample workout will work very well and there are other long term plans like Muscle Gaining Secrets by Jason Ferruggia.

If you want to see results like never before and want to eliminate the stigma of being a hardgainer the strength training program workouts I have shown above are way for you to get started.

Feel free to comment below and “Like” this article on Facebook.

Progressive Overload Training: The Best Technique To Gain Lean Muscle

You have probably wondered how celebrities, models and the pros do it to get lean and muscular, sometimes in what may seem to be a relatively short period of time.  Believe it or not there are strategies, and some may call them muscle gaining secrets to getting in great shape.  By simply following the principles of progressive overload training outlined here you can achieve some of the best results you have ever seen from your workouts.

Survival of the Fittest- Teaching Your Body How To Adapt And Grow

In order to make consistent progress in the gym you can’t do workouts the same way over and over again.  Getting the best physique possible requires you to help your body adapt and, if necessary, push it to grow muscle in ways you probably have not tried before.

It is important to note that in order to make muscle gains you can’t do the typical “cookie cutter” type workouts.  Maybe you have been doing the typical 4 sets of 10 repetitions every workout because that’s what a magazine or trainer told you was right.  After months or even years you find yourself doing the same type of workout and your body does not grow.  If you want to make progress you need to change your approach by putting your muscles under stress it usually is not used to feeling.

What Is Progressive Overload Training?

Progressive overload simply requires putting stress gradually on a muscle while you exercise.  This approach was first used in rehabilitating injured soldiers but was then applied to various types of strength training, such as weight training and even bodyweight workouts.

When you break it down muscle growth is caused simply when the muscle begins to adapt to the rigors or lifting weights.  As the muscle lifts heavier weights or works out more intensely it has to grow in order to lift the new weight.  The muscle tear down (micro tears) with each workout and it heals, recovers and grows.

How To Apply Progressive Overload In Your Training Program

  • Increase The Amount Of Weight You Are Lifting:  This may seem to be the most obvious but surprisingly it is not practiced by many people who train.  The easiest way you can see muscle growth and bulk up fast is by adding more weight to what you are already lifting.  You don’t have to double your lifts but simply doing a bit more that you have currently doing will help you.  Adding just 5 pound to a bench press for example, is enough to cause an immediate shock to your muscles.
  • Increase Your Workout Intensity: Simply lifting more weight is not enough to work out at a higher intensity.  Increasing the intensity can be done by taking the body beyond its limit.  One way of doing this is by taking your sets and reps to failure or close to failure by using forced reps.  When you workout alone chances are you don’t train to failure because the risk of injury that is involved.  However, by having a training partner who works as your spotter he or she can help you do one or two more repetitions than what your body is used to experiencing.
  • Properly Use Training Frequency:  This is one that most people get wrong.  There is a misconception that when we talk about frequency this means training more often.  This is far from being true.  In fact, you need to allow the proper rest time between workouts.  Working on the same muscle group too soon will set you back and keep your muscles from growing.

Use These Techniques TheWrong Way And You Are Bound To Fail

If you were to apply any of the above methods in your workouts you will make gains faster, however this can only go for so long.  You can not for example, train to failure every workout and expect to maintain the level of intensity.  Also, you can not train at a high level of intensity all the time and expect to be able to train to failure or train as frequent or often as you would like.  Using these techniques incorrectly will lead to overtraining and even a plateau effect.

So it’s funny, although you may be looking to use these techniques to overcome a plateau you may end up in the position of hitting a new plateau down the road and seeing muscle decreasing.

How To Use Overload Training Properly

The approach I recommend is that requires cycling and scheduling your program in a way that will keep you from hitting a plateau and one that avoids overtraining.

Get away from doing high repetition workouts all the time:  Although it is tempting to train in a range of 10 to 12 reps you really should not train this way all the time.  Your body needs to be stimulated in different ways by changing the rep sequence.  Stick with this range for anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks and then move to lower reps.

  • Properly Increase The Weight But Don’t Always Go To Failure:  In order to make gains you will want to increase the weight you lift. However, if you choose to go real heavy on your lifts you shouldn’t train to failure all the time, doing so will lead to overtraining. I recommend going to failure sporadically, maybe once a month or every other week, especially when training with higher reps.  When moving to lower reps/ heavier weight don’t go to failure when you lift.  Your goal should be to lift heavy with proper form so as to avoid injury.
  • Train With Lower Reps:  This goes along with lifting heavier weight.  If you increase the weight load you will find it harder to lift more repetitions.  Use this technique for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Don’t Train The Same Muscle Group Too Often:  I have heard so many times that you should work on the same muscle group up to three times a week.  I actually recommend training the same muscle group once or twice a week at the most.  Training more often can work for a beginner but can also lead to overtraining without the proper guidance.
  • Limit the Number of Exercises You Do:  Although some programs talk about increasing the number of exercises that you are doing currently I personally do not agree with this approach.  Doing more than is necessary is sure way to burn out.  If you simply work with 3 to 4 exercises per muscle group and vary the intensity this will be enough to get muscles fast.
  • Do Not Do Too Many Sets:  This is another strategy that gets used in overload principles but one I find unnecessary.  Again, if you stick to a number of sets between 3 and 4 with sufficient intensity you will see results.

Using progressive overload training is an approach that works well when trying to gain muscle and in overcoming and avoiding plateaus if done correctly.  The important thing to remember is that your workouts should be cycled in periods of higher rep training (6-12 reps) for up to 2 months and lower reps for a couple of months.  By shifting your rep scheme and shocking your body with forced reps once in a while, allowing sufficient rest, and properly using intensity you will see the gains you have been looking for.

How To Get Muscles Fast In 9 Easy Steps

Everyone looking to build muscle wishes they could do one magical workout that will show them how to get muscles fast without the pain of spending hours in the gym.  If you have been thinking that gaining muscle mass is a process that requires living in the gym in order to see huge gains I am here to tell you that this is not so.

(Photograph Courtesy of Reuben Bajada’s Permanent Muscle Program)

If you want to learn how to get muscles fast by cutting your workout time and by learning other useful tips simply read on and learn techniques that you can apply in your next workout.

The Bodybuilding Myth- Long Workouts Equals Growth

I still remember looking through countless weightlifting books and magazines and seeing the endless number of reps and sets.  It looked tempting to follow that type of workout; after all if a professional bodybuilder was doing it then it had to be true, right?

Unfortunately this was so far from the truth and although I did not see this at the time I went ahead and tried it myself.  Soon I found out that long workouts consisting of 20 or more working sets per muscle group was doing 2 things:

  1. Not giving me muscle gains as I was promised
  2. My strength was decreasing and my quality of workouts was falling apart

Along with the long workouts I remember seeing so many bodybuilders talking about doing 2 workouts per day, one in the morning and one at night… I never went that route, thank you.

Workout Like A Builder- The Fastest Way To Burnout

Unfortunately the two effects mentioned above: not seeing muscle growth and experiencing a decrease in strength are prime examples of the body reaching burnout.  However, time and time again these same types of workout routines are being pitched to the public as being effective, when this is far from the truth.

One of the factors that were never mentioned in their success was the fact that many, maybe not all, are taking performance-enhancing drugs.  There are dangers with going that route and I always felt that there was a better and safe way of building muscle.

The Steps To Take To Get Muscles Fast

Step One: Decrease Your Workout Time; Less Is More

As mentioned earlier, long workouts are a recipe for burning out at the gym.  In fact, the growth you will see in your muscles will be minimal.  In order to grow muscle faster it is best to reduce your strength training and overall workout time under 60 minutes.  This goes against everything you have heard but it is true.  Once you go beyond the time limit of one hour your testosterone levels and cortisol levels drop significantly.  The longer your testosterone levels drop and the longer you put effort in strength then you will not see any gains.

Step Two:  Perform In The Higher Rep Ranges

This may also sound counterintuitive.  You have probably heard that higher reps equal toned muscle and lower reps add bulk.  Well this is not so.  If you want to get muscles fast the route you need to take is doing rep ranges in the “sweet spot” of 6-15 reps per set.  Training with reps higher than this is simply not effective and anything lower than this will give you dense muscles but growth will be slower.  The goal is to increase sarcoplasmic growth or sarcoplasmic hypertrophy in the muscles.  This is done by increasing fluid in the muscle cells that gives it an increase in size. Rusty Moore goes in depth on this technique in Visual Impact Muscle Building.

Step Three:  Reduce The Number of Sets

Remember the whole 20 plus sets I described above?  Throw it out the window.  The number of working sets you should have as an upper range for larger muscles groups (legs, chest, back, shoulders) is in the range 14 to 16 sets.  You can also choose 3 or 4 exercises per muscle group and do 3 to 4 sets.  This will keep you in the range of adequate sets.  For smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps, calves) the upper range should be at 10 to 12 sets but you can stay under this goal.  Choose 2 or 3 exercises and 3 to 4 sets to stay within this range.
The following video from Reuben Bajada of Permanent Muscle Program shows him using the right combination of sets and repetitions for a biceps workout.

Step Four:  Do Not Workout Every Day

One of the biggest mistakes is being in the gym 7 days a week.  Follow the principles followed in step one and do less.  Strength training in 3 to 5 days a week is a good approach.

Step Five:  Allow Sufficient Rest Time Between Workouts

This is a very important point to make.  Although I often hear advice like, workout the same body part twice a week I have always felt that if you really want to see your body gain muscle the best approach is to allow up to 7 days between workouts.  So if you do a chest workout on Monday the next time you will work on it is the following Monday.  Letting the muscle rest is the most important part in the muscle building process.  Once you tear down the muscle you need to let it rest and recover so your body can grow and take on the next strenuous workout.  Which brings us to the next step.

Step Six:  Get Plenty Of Rest

Also a very important step, one that is more important than lifting weights.  Rest as much as possible.  This does not mean that you should skip workouts.  However, along with step five where you allow enough time between workouts you also need to get sufficient sleep seven days a week if possible.  Muscle growth happens when you rest, not when you are busy lifting heavy weight.  Eight hours sleep per night is very important and naps throughout the day are excellent.  A good one-hour nap per day is something I highly recommend.

Step 7:  Do Multi Joint Movements

Doing biceps curls are a gym favorite with so many guys and I am not saying it is a bad thing but if you want to put on muscle you will need to do exercises that involve more than one joint.  Your best options are doing squats, pull-ups, bench presses, deadlifts, lunges and military presses.  These types of exercises raise your testosterone levels and this is very important in the muscle building process.  Single joint movements like triceps extensions or biceps curls are good to do but should not be the emphasis of a muscle-building program.

Step 8: Avoid Plateaus By Changing Your Workouts

Doing strenuous workouts and putting your body through the strain of working out can be taxing on the body and can set it up for a plateau effect before you know it.  By following some of the tips outlined above, like resting and allowing plenty of time between workouts will help with avoiding this plateau effect.  One other way to avoid a plateau is by changing your workouts every couple of weeks.  Instead of having your body get used to the same exercises, same reps, same number of sets, the best thing you can do is change the exercises you are doing, seek variety, change your number of reps slightly while staying in the muscle building range and change tempo of the reps.

Including forced reps where you take your last to beyond failure is not entirely bad.  However, it is not something you should do every single workout.  Going to failure is something you can do once in a while either to overcome a plateau or to shock your body.  Keeping your reps short of failure is the best option in order to deal with the demands of lifting week after week.

Step 9:  Change Your Workout Program Regularly

This is an extension of some of the steps mentioned above.  Although it is tempting to stick with the methods like rep ranges, sets and types of workouts you do once you see how effective these techniques are, it is best to change your workouts.  I recommend making a change every couple of months to your workouts.

Simply change your range of repetitions from the range of 6-15 in those 2 months and move on to heavier lifting and shorter reps (4-5) for the next couple of months.  Using this method you will go from gaining muscle to building strength and muscle density.  Moving back and forth using this approach will help your muscles grow in the long term.

What About Supplements?

The tips and steps I have outlined will help you bulk up fast in a natural way.   Although supplements are mentioned often as a way to boost your gains the truth is that training and rest time are the deciding factor along with your diet.

Many muscle gain supplements are pitched in the market as having near miraculous qualities but they are not a deal breaker.  In fact, the ones that are often mentioned really do not offer anything but a short-term pump.  If you want to take supplements simple multivitamins, whey protein are the only things you need with creatine being an optional one as well.

By applying the steps mentioned above you will see that you will get muscles fast, or faster than using the same techniques that are often mentioned by professional bodybuilders.

Rest Time Between Workouts- The Most Important Tip You Need To Get A Better Body

One of the biggest mistakes, if not the biggest, I have seen when it comes to working out is not taking sufficient rest time between workouts.  Although it is easy to get excited and be highly motivated, if you make the mistake of not taking sufficient days off you will fall short of making progress.

I have been there before, perhaps you have as well.  Your goal was to gain muscle or lose fat or you simply wanted to tone your body so you decided you were going to give it 100 percent at the gym 7 days a week.  Pretty soon you found your body not reacting and looking pretty much the same as when you started.

I’m Gonna Work Out Every Day ‘Til Summer!

There is nothing necessarily wrong with doing some type of activity on a daily basis.  Some people do it.  Others choose to work out a few days a week and look great as well.  If one group is working out less and the other more and both are getting similar results then why would you want to force your body to work out at maximum capacity every day?

Avoid Consecutive Days

It may sound like I am telling you to avoid working out every day and to take an approach of working out every other day.  What I actually mean is to stop working out on the same muscle group every day.

Every spring, when people start working out for summer, I come across a person or two telling me they are sore from (insert body part here) because they had a good workout.  I will then ask them, “What are you working on today?”  Most of the time I get a reply of, “I think I’m going to do the same workout I did yesterday.”

After this reply I will explain that the body needs to get sufficient rest time between workouts in order to repair and grow.  This is not to say that having rest time will create massive muscle growth.  For massive muscle growth to take place there are other factors we won’t get in to here (read my previous post on how to bulk up fast) but just understand that muscle growth is necessary if you want to look fit and athletic.

Rest Time Between Workouts- How They Should Be Spaced Out

Here is Reuben Bajada of the Permanent Muscle Program doing push ups but later in the video he explains how often someone should work out.


(Video Courtesy  of Reuben Bajada’s Permanent Muscle Program)

First thing to remember- DO NOT WORK ON THE SAME MUSCLE GROUP ON CONSECUTIVE DAYS.

I cannot stress this enough.  Listen to this one tip and you will be ahead of many out there.  It is the simplest tip to follow and unfortunately a tip that took me a while to really follow when I was starting out.

If you are looking to gain muscle fast then try and allow sufficient rest time of at least 72 hours between a workout for a specific muscle group. You can rest longer depending on the level of intensity at which you did a workout.  For example, if you did a legs workout today then your next workout should happen no sooner than 72 hours from now.  This will allow sufficient recovery time.

Different levels of fitness require different rest periods in order to make the proper gains.  Rusty Moore of Fitness Black Book has an interesting post on this subject titled, Muscle Recovery- The More Advanced You Get The Trickier It Gets.”

How Do You Know Whether You Have Taken Enough Rest Time?

My rule of thumb is if you are not able to do the same workout the next time at the same intensity then you need more rest periods.  For example, ever noticed that you have been able to squat with a certain amount of weight one week and the next you are struggling at the same weight?  This is a good indicator that you need more rest days in between workouts for that body part.

If you fail to take sufficient rest time it is likely you will come across a plateau effect.  This is one thing you want to avoid, as your gains will stop, hopefully temporarily.  In order to overcome this plateau effect you can simply do some principles outlined in muscle confusion.

Just remember that giving your body sufficient time between workouts will help you build muscle, which will help you burn fat and in the end look lean.

Dude Slow Down: Why The Right Time Under Tension Workouts Will Help You Get A Better Physique Faster

“If I pump the weight faster it will make my muscles work twice as hard, which means I will get bigger faster!”

Ok not so fast.  This kind of approach is something I still see and maybe I was once guilty of this twisted thinking.  I had not been exposed to the concept of time under tension early on but hopefully you have been.  If not then here it is.

What Is Time Under Tension?

Time under tension is the amount of time the muscle is placed under stress when it contracts.  In other words, it is the amount of time it takes from the point of beginning a repetition or set until it is completed.

So doing a super slow rep and set will help you get leaner and have bigger muscle right?  Well not so fast.  More is not always best.  Getting lean and lifting the right amount of weight is what will give you the best results.

Muscle Growth Is A Combination Of Factors

The two things to consider at this point are that heavy weight plus time under tension will trigger muscle growth.

MG= Weight + Time Under Tension

If you can keep the muscle under a long period of tension this may mean that you are lifting weight that is too light.  As you can see this does not help with muscle growth.  By the same token, lifting TOO HEAVY to the point that you cannot keep the muscle under enough time in tension will not be enough to trigger muscle growth.

It is easy to feel tempted to do a workout at a fast pace. Doing a fast paced set gives the feeling of getting more done and also leaves a pump in the muscle.  If you find yourself doing this fast pumping action it is best to evaluate exactly how light the weight you are lifting is.

What Is The Proper Pace For Lifting Weight?

Here is where there is debate.  There are different theories as to what is slow enough versus too slow.  The pace that is best to follow is performing slower on the negative range of the repetition.  For best results it is best to do a pace of 2-3 seconds on the negative movement of the rep and 1-2 seconds contracting the muscle.

Here are some examples:

  • Biceps Curl:  1 to 2 seconds on the way up and 2 to 3 seconds when going down with the weight.
  • Chest Press:  It should take 2 to 3 seconds to lower the weight to your chest and 1 to 2 seconds to bring the weight up.
  • Pull Downs:  1 to 2 seconds to lower the weight and 2 to 3 seconds to bring the bar back up.
  • Squats:  2 to 3 seconds on the way down and 1 to 2 seconds when coming up.

These are some examples but you get the idea.  The point is to move a bit faster when contracting the muscle.

What About The Number of Repetitions?

Well when it comes to building muscle you want to make sure you are performing each rep with proper form and using a full range of motion.  The next thing you want to do is perform in a rep range of 8 to 10 if you want to increase muscle size.  If you want to get a lean look then go with a lower rep range of 4 to 5 reps.

The time under tension in a workout should be around 30-45 seconds per set for muscle building and 15-25 seconds per set for muscle toning.  However don’t focus too much on time to complete each set.  As long as you develop this slower than usual pace you will be around this proper range.

Try to do your time under tension workouts as outlined above and you will see that you will get a better physique faster than you expected.

Blast Through An Exercise Plateau Effect With Three Simple Tips

Ever experienced an exercise plateau effect just when you were making progress in your workouts?  It happens to every one of us.  We work out, put in time and effort and next thing you know the muscle gains stop and the fat loss comes to a grinding halt.
From Plateau Point
Photograph Courtesy of John Kercher

It is absolutely horrible.  All the hours feel like it is gone to waste and as much as you put in more effort nothing happens.  So what are you to do to overcome a plateau effect?

  • Tip Number One: Get some rest and do not over train.  More often than not the reason why you have stopped making progress in your workouts is because you are over doing it.  Over exerting yourself with long workouts eventually take a toll.  Make your workouts shorter and do not be afraid to take a week off every three months.  If you can’t remember the last time you missed a workout then maybe now is the time to do so.
  • Tip Number Two: A good way to eliminate an exercise plateau effect is to try some new way of working out.  If you have been doing the same number of repetitions on the same piece of equipment then change it up.  Use a new piece of equipment you have never used before.  Been doing barbell bench presses all this time?  Okay, try using dumbbell bench presses this week! Switch it up and use what often referred to as “muscle confusion.”
  • Tip Number Three: Change the amount of weight you are using.  So many times we get used to the same weight being lifted. How many times have you used 20 pound dumbbells for your biceps curls? Well after many months of working out it is probably a good time to go up to 25 pounds.  If 5 pounds seems like a lot then just add a tiny bit more weight every few sessions.

It does not take much to trigger muscle growth and fat loss.  As you can see sometimes small changes in your workouts can shock your body and blast through an exercise plateau effect.  So take some time off once in a while and keep on challenging your body.

Is Strength Training With Resistance Bands Better Than Using Weights?

Have you ever tried doing strength training with resistance bands to get in shape? Probably not. Or maybe you tried it a couple of times and went back to using barbells, dumbbell weights or machines.
Resistance Bands--Aperture
Photograph Courtesy of Daniel Eisen

Although you may think that there isn’t a major advantage using resistance bands in your training the truth is they are of great benefit. These days many athletes use these pieces of elastic to get in tip top shape.

One of the athletes who quickly comes to mind is Terrell Owens. Terrell Owens has been known to use these bands almost exclusively for every muscle group. In fact, he swears that they have improved his performance on the field.

I am sure you are wondering how these bands could possibly give you the ability to get lean muscle and get in great shape. Perhaps you were disappointed because you felt these bands were too light or maybe they just look very light to achieve significant gains.

Strength training bands come in different degrees of resistance. The thicker they are the tougher it will be to use and thus requiring more strength to use. Usually resistance bands come in different colors according to their level of resistance.

The advantage with using strength training with resistance bands is they force your muscle to stay in constant tension. As opposed to using weights, these keep the muscle at tension only up to a certain point. Picture doing biceps curls. At the peak of the movement the tension significantly decreases.

While using bands the muscle is forced at constant tension from the moment the muscle goes in to motion and even at peak contraction. As the muscle adapts to the resistance you simply use a band that is thicker.

I have personally done training with resistance bands in my strength training workouts to change it around once in a while. Although they may not seem like a tough workout, believe me, they can be. Switch it around and do them for an entire workout or to warm up or at the end to burn out the muscle and get that good final pump.

You never know, strength training with resistance bands may end up having you look like an athlete like Terrell Owens.