Upon embarking on a new exercise regimen, no matter what the program is, you will likely see changes. You may lose a few pounds, you get stronger, you gain better capacity. This is called “newbie gains.”
Fast-forward several months and you hit a plateau. What the heck happened?!
Progress is all about sending the right signal to your body. Our bodies are incredible machines and easily adapt if you are doing the same thing over and over.
If your exercise is mainly cardio or HIIT, you have to forever add and add volume in order to continue to see changes. And all that cardio can lead to you losing muscle.
With strength training, it’s easier to vary the intensity, load, rep scheme and exercise selection so that you don’t plateau. But, there are some guidelines in strength training in order to build muscle:
You must challenge yourself. Make the last few reps of a set difficult in order to build muscle. That’s intensity.
If you’ve been using the same set of dumbbells for sets of 10 reps AND sets of five reps, realize that you need to increase the weight as the reps decrease. Take warm-up sets and start your working sets with a weight that challenges you, minding proper movement patterns, tempo and mind-muscle connection.
Rest between sets. If you ARE challenging yourself, you will need the rest, but rest also sends a signal to your body to build. If you’re lifting weights at high reps and a high heart rate, realize that you could be sending more of a cardio signal.
You made it to the gym. You’re doing the work. Send the right signal!