Let’s get real – bodybuilding is a time-consuming and often nerve-racking discipline that demands a GREAT deal of patience and willpower if you want to become great (and who doesn’t). Then there are all of the complicated diet rules, exercises with specific effects and a ton of different supplements to navigate through. But no matter how hard you train and how adequate your diet is, you’re going to hit a plateau sooner and later and that can be very discouraging. It’s no wonder that some people never make it since success in bodybuilding requires your mind to be as strong as your muscles.
But even when you feel your progress has been blocked, not all is lost – there are some tricks that can give you exactly the push you need. In general we try to avoid providing ‘tricks’ and shortcuts, no matter how badly people want them, because we don’t believe there’s a way to get real results other than hard work. But today we’ll make an exception to our rule for the devoted bodybuilders who train heavy and regularly but could use a little extra help in order to achieve greater strength gains.
Remember, these tricks won’t do magic on their own, but done consistently in terms of a solid training routine, they are guaranteed to boost your strength and power in less time and separate you from the average lifter in the long run.
1. Break up with static stretching
While warm-ups are beneficial, stretching can do you more harm than good. Studies show that static stretching before working out can decrease strength by up to 10%, leaving you unprepared for a challenging workout with cold muscles and a resting heart rate, which increases your risk of injury as well. In addition, overstretching will cause your muscles to tighten instead of relax, and this tightness will impair your range of motion and performance. However, pre-workout dynamic stretching, which involves performing stretches fast and explosively, can help increase power and strength.
2. Change your grip
It turns out that the staggered grip offers staggering results, so switch to it right away. Studies show that lifters using a staggered grip (one side overhand, the other underhand), which provides the mechanical advantage of reverse torsion, completed an average of two more reps within their six-rep max than when using a standard overhand grip. Alternate hands every other set for best results.
3. Use wrist straps
The wrist straps are a simple training tool that seems to be positively associated with strength gains. In a new study from the Weider Research Group, subjects performed the same back workout on two occasions, once wearing wrist straps and once without them. The results? When performing the exercises with straps, reps per set were increased by an average of one to two compared to not using straps. Therefore, in order to get a nice boost in both size and strength, make sure you use wrist straps on pulling exercises.
4. Use plyometrics
Plyometrics is a workout technique that strengthens your muscles by using maximum power in short intervals of time. The combination of stretching and contracting your muscles into quick, explosive movements is possibly the fastest way to increase your power and performance in terms of weight training, due to the fact that plyometric exercise primes the nervous system to fire stronger and faster, enabling more powerful muscle contractions. So in order to make the best use of your weight training, try including short sessions of drop jumps before squats and drop push-ups before bench press.
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