How do I intensify my training
Train smarter: Jade Packer's tips for constant training success
Your training is imminent and you are looking forward to an intensive unit. But you complete it in a flash without shedding a drop of sweat. The next morning you wake up with no sore muscles and it feels like you haven't exercised at all. On the one hand you are happy because you are obviously getting fitter and fitter. At the same time, you no longer feel challenged. So you're considering changing your training routine and trying something a little more challenging - but didn't you just start your new training plan two weeks ago? If this sounds familiar to you, read on.
Over time, our muscles adapt to new stimuli - with some this happens faster than with others. Our muscle fibers are damaged during exercise; they open tiny cracks. Our body repairs the damaged tissue by producing more muscle tissue than before. This process is also known as hypertrophy. In this way, our body can prepare better for a similar load the next time. If we want to improve continuously, our body has to be overloaded at regular intervals, so we should vary our workouts and make them more and more demanding.
But before you change your training plan, you should first check whether you are actually performing your current exercises correctly and whether you are training efficiently. For me as a bodybuilder there are three elements with which I intensify hypertrophy training for specific muscles:
1. Mind Muscle Connection (the invisible connection between body and mind)
Many do not realize the importance of mental focus in training. You go through with your workout, but you are not really at it. Do you know that, too?
During training, we can target a muscle with certain exercises. This muscle is known as the primary mover or target muscle. Secondary movers are muscles that are also activated when performing the movement and support the primary mover.
If we focus on the target muscle during training, which is known as the “Mind Muscle Connection”, more muscle fibers in that area are activated. With a strong Mind Muscle Connection, we can put more stress on the target muscle, as we increase strength development in this area and build up more tension. The result: better muscle growth. So you see, a simple up and down movement is not enough. Failure to focus on the Mind Muscle Connection will result in the secondary movers doing more work than they should. The result: You waste a lot of strength potential on the target muscle and that means less hypertrophy. Goal: Focus on the target muscle, not the movement itself.
2. Time under tension
One way to improve the mind muscle connection is through a technique called "time under tension". This is about the time in which tension is built up in the muscle. If you do an exercise particularly slowly, you will build tension in both the concentric and eccentric movements. This in turn helps you develop a better feeling for the target muscle. The time under tension also ensures that the muscle works longer against the resistance, which leads to more micro-tears in the tissue and thus to more muscle growth.
Are you wondering what "slow" means? Personally, I am a fan of the “3,2,2, method”: For example, count 3 seconds when moving down, and pause in the lowest position for 2 seconds. The point at which you pause is also known as the point of maximum contraction. Once there, you build up tension in the muscle and maintain the tension - this promotes blood flow to the muscle. Then count 2 seconds and come back to the starting position. When you use this method, 10 reps feels like 20.
Goal: Perform the movement slowly to increase the build-up of tension in the muscle.
3. Stretching while exercising
Stretching is another way to stimulate blood flow to the muscle. Most of them stretch during warm-up and cool-down, but I also use stretching during training to improve the mind muscle connection.
Since you increase the blood flow to the muscle by stretching during exercise, you also have more "pumps". This pump can make the muscle more sensitive and you develop better muscle feeling while performing the movement. This makes it easier for you to train the respective muscle in isolation.
Stretching has another benefit. Sore muscles after a workout are generally a good sign, but if you can barely move after a leg day, that's less fun. You can prevent extreme muscle soreness by doing stretching exercises during your workout.
Goal: Stretch during exercise to better feel the target muscle. These techniques aren't just for bodybuilders. Anyone can use them to take their workout to a new level without having to change other variables. The longer you train without paying attention to the Mind Muscle Connection, the more difficult it will be for you - especially if you have already lost your interest in your training plan because of a plateau.
You can train as hard as you want, if your muscles are not working efficiently, you are wasting precious time on hypertrophy. Use your full potential and train smarter. Download the Freeletics app now and try it out for yourself.
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