Using Variations to Maximize Your Strength
Using Variations to Maximize Your Strength
Stuck doing the same strength exercises over and over again? The following training routine will help push your gains to the next level.
We all know the basic exercises; bench, squat, deadlift, and so on. But regardless of how effective they are, sticking to the same strength exercises can be detrimental to your training progress. Why? Because having no diversity in your exercises can lead to both boredom and less effective results.
The key then to avoiding stagnation is to keep your muscles guessing. This approach is known as muscle confusion, and if done effectively, will keep you fired up about your training while making you stronger at the same time. Yes, I said stronger. In changing exercises you can target the same set of muscles, but in a different way. The irony is, muscle confusion yields strength gains that will help you improve in those basic exercise (overall bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) you’re currently doing over and over again without much progress.
So switch the type of bar, switch your handgrip, switch the speed at which you are moving the weight, and switch the order in which you perform the exercises. The possibilities are honestly endless, but the end goal of keeping your training fresh and exciting remains constant. The more excited you are, the longer you’ll stick with, and thrive in, your workout program.
Knowing that, here are a few exercises to help you mix things up and accelerate your progress.
DB Alt Punch (instead of DB Bench)
In this dumbbell exercise your palms should he facing each other at all times. One dumbbell should always be in the air while the other in brought down to the chest. Make sure the elbows stay tight to your sides. I’d recommend 4 sets of 6 to start with, but this will change depending upon your training goals.
Triangle Pullups (instead of Pullups)
This is close to being a pullup, except you will pull up to your right hand then slide across to your left hand to complete one rep. Do as many as you can going in the same direction. On your next set, pull up to your left hand before sliding across to your right hand. Depending on your training background I would recommend either 2 sets to failure or 4 sets to failure. If you cannot perform more than a few (3-4) pullups per set, add a band for assistance.
Low Box Squat (instead of Regular Squat)
Use less weight than you normally squat in the beginning. If done effectively, you’ll learn to sit low (if you have flexibility problems), while activating your glutes and hamstrings. Sit controlled onto the box before pausing for a split second. As you stand up keep the knees from caving in while leading with a high chest. These are more of a power/strength exercise than a hypertrophy exercise, so try working your way up to 6-8 sets of 2-3 reps. Keep your core tight when you stop on the box, allowing your chest to stay tall.
DB Incline Combo (instead of DB Incline)
Start with both dumbbells up before performing one rep with the left arm, one rep with the right arm, and one rep with both arms. That left, right, both comboequals one total rep. Do 4 sets of 3-6 reps per set.
Rack Pull (instead of Deadlifts)
This exercise will allow you to work the top part of the deadlift, with much more weight than you can currently pull off of the floor. Keep the bar close to your body as you finish the lift by extending your hips. Make sure to be pulling up and back on the bar as well as squeezing your glutes at the top. Feeling crazy? Try 5 sets of 5 and keep it moving. Remember to not excessively hyperextend your back at the top, just lean back slightly.
Keep in mind those are just five of the numerous ways to change up your workout, and still get stronger. Avoid plateaus, avoid boredom, change things up, and keep your body guessing!
To maximize your gains with these exercises 1R would recommend the following supplements:
- Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1 Recovery - The carbs and protein will help you recover and build lean muscle faster after tough workouts
- Cytosport Creatine - By increasing your body's ATP production creatine will help you become more explosive, more powerful, and more athletic when taken before or after lifts
- Cytosport L-Glutamine - Needed for immune system support, energy production, and the building and protection of the lean muscle mass when stress is increased on the body
About the Author
Nate Hemphill is an assistant strength & conditioning coach at the University of California-Davis where he oversees the training protocols for Men’s Soccer, Field Hockey, Women's Lacrosse, Golf, Tennis, and Women's Water Polo while assisting with Football. Prior to joining UC Davis in 2011, he was a graduate assistant strength & conditioning coach at Seattle University from 2009-2011. A 2005 graduate in Exercise and Movement Science from Missouri State University (MO), Nate worked with numerous sports at MSU as well as working with the St. Louis Cardinals in their Minor League affiliates (Rookie, AA). Nate is currently a certified CSCS from the NSCA. He is working to finish his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration and Leadership from Seattle University.
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