Shortcut # 3 – Training LESS Often.
The world of bodybuilding is full of extremes, for a lot of guys it is either all or none… there is no middle ground. So after learning about the negative impacts of training too often, as outlined in the previous Eagle ridge fitness write-up, many bodybuilders make a complete U-turn and go the opposite direction and drastically cut back on their workouts figuring that “less is more”.
Some experts have gone over the deep end with the fear of overtraining. Mike Mentzer and his Heavy Duty style workouts were one of the biggest influences of the “less is more” idea. Overall, the basic principles of this workout were good because it implemented a solid plan of action, used progressive overload, monitored your progress, etc.
But one major flaw of the system was that if you weren’t making progress with your workouts it was automatically assumed that you were “overtraining”, so your workouts were cut back. Sometimes going to the point of working out once a week or less.
Is there a better way?
For some extremely hard gainers training less often (i.e. every second day) may be the best frequency for muscle gains. But most people will respond well to more frequent workouts (i.e. 2 days on, 1 day off).
There are no hard set in stone rules that work for everyone, but a general guideline of working out 4-5 times per week and training each bodypart twice per week is a good place to start. As you get more experienced you be able to find out exactly what your body responds the best to and customize your workouts to fit your specific needs.
Shortcut # 4 – Heavy Weights & Low Reps.
One of the basic Eagle ridge bodybuilding principles is ‘a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle’. So in order to get bigger, you need to get stronger. Progressive overload is the cornerstone of all successful workouts. You need to gradually increase the weights you are lifting over time in order to make progress.
During the early phases of a starting a workout program beginners can make fast gains because all training stimulus is new at this stage. And a lot of the initial strength gains come not only from increasing muscle strength, but also from improved lifting technique and better coordination.
But once you get past the initial beginners phase, your strength gains come more slowly. When this happens a lot of lifters will simply do fewer reps so they can continue to increase the weights.
For example, if I can lift 100 lbs. for 10 reps, maybe I could drop the reps to 8 and lift 120 lbs., or drop the reps to 6 and lift 140 lbs., etc… While this may work to some degree initially to get you growing again, there comes a point where it can back fire and bring your gains to a screeching halt.
Is there a better way?
Lifting heavier weights for lower reps increases your odds of getting an injury such as a muscle tear. When you are doing fewer then 5 reps per set you lose the mind muscle connection. The lift becomes an end in itself and no longer a means for building muscle. Lifting too heavy makes it harder to concentrate on the muscles you are working, your focus switches to simply moving the weight and not getting crushed under a heavy barbell.
For bodybuilding purposes try to stay within the 6-12 rep range. This is the “sweet spot” for keeping your muscles under tension long enough to stimulate growth, while still allowing relatively heavy weights to be lifted.