We are taught that you have to increase the amount of weight in order to stimulate the muscle to grow. Guys continue to increase the weight on the bar believing that if they lift heavy then they will get bigger muscles. This is not entirely true. If you have been training for a while you know that after a while you cannot add more weight to the bar. It just isn’t possible. Even the steroid users eventually hit a peak on their lifts. So what does this mean? It means that adding weight to the bar to the point where you no longer can progress doesn’t equate to increase muscle size. When I was new at training I followed the “I gotta lift a lot of weight to get bigger” approach. Over a period of a month I noticed I increased my weights with ease. But by the fourth week I could no longer increase my weights. I hit a plateau. I no longer could get a pump. My muscles felt softer and I was not vascular. This prompted me to investigate my program a little deeper. I decided to change up my program. Once I changed my program I started seeing gains again. It was instant. I realized that the my hormones concentrations were higher at the beginning of month than at the end of the month.
After changing the program every three weeks for a few months I hit another plateau. I didn’t understand what was wrong, I was doing great and then I stopped making gains again. This prompted to figure out a new way to stimulate my muscles to grow. Then it came to me, like a 2×4 hitting me in the for head. I had to change the intensities of the exercise. It wasn’t about just trying to increase the weights. Each time I lifted I increased the weights. When I lifted the heavier weights I use speed and momentum. My form was sloppier. This was one of the reasons why I lost my gains. I decided to change up things by selecting a weight that I could use for all four sets of the exercise. But this time I controlled the speed of the lift. This was amazing!!!
I was lifting a lot less than I was lifting before, but the pump was absolutely incredible. I dramatically slowed down the speed of the lift. The first set was easy, the second set was more challenging with a struggle occurring by the 12th rep, the 3rd set was really hard and my chest felt like it was going to explode. By the 4th set I could barely get through 8 reps. My chest was so pumped up that I added an inch to my measurements within one week of training. It was awesome! I figured out that by going slower the intensity was actually more than when I lifted heavier weight. Now I go slow with all my exercises and I continue to stimulate the muscles every time. I wanted to test this further so I asked a power lifter to load the bar with his normal heavy weight and rather than lifting fast, to go slow. He couldn’t even lift one rep with his heavy weight going slow. THe only way he could lift the heavy weight was to use momentum, and fast speed. Slowing down was much harder. This is basic physics. The power lifter was power-less. I showed my new way and he was shaking like a leaf by the last set. He was totally pumped up though. I think I made him a believer that day. So I say go slow and grow. Give it a try next time you lift. Choose 85% max weight and go slow. Don’t even think about speeding up when the pain comes on. You must take the pain and complete your goal. Your brain will want you to speed up because it is trying to help the muscle out by reducing the pain. You must overcome this and persevere.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed
tags: pain, strength training, nutrition, bodybuilding, diet EARTH, daryl conant, Vince Gironda, Ron Kosloff, health