You’re probably well aware that no training approach can produce a steady rate of growth forever, and this is perhaps most noticeable in arm training. Every routine is doomed to become too comfortable after a few months and it’s up to you to recognize when it’s time to change the training stimulus in order to challenge your arms into new growth. Although this may sound a bit vague, there are some very simple and concrete things you can do to jump-start your training before your progress slows down to a crawl.
Need some extra motivation? Read the article below!
Don’t let your training become stagnant for too long. Instead, as soon as you become aware that you’ve entered a training rut, create a new training stimulus. This isn’t a call to abolish all tried-and-true techniques and switch to “shocking” your muscles with something completely new every week – which is a terrible idea by the way – it’s a reminder that in order to resume growing your biceps, you need to hit their muscle fibers, which are predominantly of the fast-twitch type, with more intensity.
This can be done with the help of progressive overload, of course. Progressive overload is achieved in many different ways: adding weight, increasing number of sets or reps, minimizing rest pauses, etc., with the simplest one being altering your rep pattern. Although doing the classic 3 sets of 10 reps for a given exercise will undoubtedly make your arms grow bigger and stronger, this will only last for a while.
For example, if you’re stuck at 150 lbs for 10 reps on the bench press, instead of doing the same thing forever, try loading 165 pounds on the bar and perform as many reps as possible with good form. You will probably complete only 4-5, but that’s alright because what matters is that you’ve presented with muscles with a different stimulus and that’s what it takes to break the spell!
Big arms are built by training with heavy loads for many reps, and it’s true that lower rep ranges are ideal for building strength not size. However, you need to become stronger in order to be able to train with heavier loads for more reps, and that’s why low reps deserve a place in any decent mass-building routine.
Modify Your Program
One great strength-building method is the 5×5 scheme, which is most effective when applied to compound exercises. Let’s say you want to do weighted chin-ups. Your goal would be to complete 5 sets of 5 reps, resting 2 minutes between sets, with a load that allows you to complete only 6 reps with proper form. If you chose the right load, you won’t be able to complete all reps on your third set on the first time you try this technique. After you become able to complete all 5 sets, you can add 5-10 pounds to the load and repeat.
Just like anything else, this scheme can become monotonous after a while, but you’ll cross that bridge when you get there. Again, you can employ intensity-boosting strategies such as adding weight, adding another set and adjusting the rep range according to the load and number of sets.
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Trust your knowledge, listen to your body and don’t get too attached to any technique or style – staying in the comfort zone has never helped anyone build an impressive physique.