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When progress stops it’s time to re-think your game plan. Linear periodization focuses on the progressive overload of force or reps across each week in the gym. The low-hanging fruit for most athletes is to force progress by adding more weight to the bar. But, this can quickly result in accommodation and plateau or stagnation. Incorporating different types of muscular stress, kinds that mechanosensors in muscle are not as used to or are unfamiliar with is where creativity can be a unique catalyst to drive progress. It’s time we expand our view of intensity beyond how heavy the bar is. Here are some a-typical methods that are less frequently used than just moving straight weight up and down.
Isometrics is a fantastic tool for increasing neuromuscular recruitment, developing positional strength, and pushing blood into the muscle.
There are 3 categories of muscular work…
– Eccentric (The lengthening of muscle against load, typically when lowering a weight)
– Isometric (Holding a muscle in contraction still against a load)
People typically think of isometrics as holding poses such as the front-facing most muscular, lat spread, or side chest, but its application in training is far greater than just posing in front of a mirror. Incorporating isometrics as complexes combined with dynamic movement pack a huge punch from a muscle recruitment and muscle damage standpoint. You can create killer sessions that will drastically increase size and strength without having just put more weight on the bar by incorporating isometrics. Here are a few examples that work great.
Shocker sets are where you move from a heavy dynamic movement into an iso-hold. For example…
Incorporating hold in working sets is another simple way to spice up the reps and recruit/fatigue more muscle. Some are great to be done with a training partner for spotting or applying additional load. For example.
Chest and Tricep Work:
Back and Bicep Work:
Leg and Glute Work:
Support holds occur when a muscle is fully contracted and the bones are structurally lined up, this is typically done with pressing movements, but can also be done in a squat in deadlift variations. Here are some examples…
Overload eccentrics is exactly as it sounds. In this method, an athlete is lengthening a muscle, typically while lowering it down at a weight that is greater than their current capacity to move concentrically up. You can think of this as losing against the weight slowly or resisting on the way down. Our bodies are smart and will only allow us to move as much weight up as we can safely lower down therefore eccentric strength usually develops first. This also allows us to potentially take advantage of that specific phase of movement that we can load to a greater degree. More weights, more dates, and in this scenario we are able to incorporate more muscular recruitment, muscle damage, and trick sensors into getting muscle to grow and get stronger because of the loading component. These methods typically require another training partner or the use of special equipment such as release hooks to create this very special stimulus. Very simply put, we are unleashing hell on the negatives.
Forced reps are where an athlete “cheats” or getting assistance is the concentric phase of the movement while controlling on their own the negative descent with a controlled tempo of anywhere from 3-10 seconds. Here are a few examples.
Chest and Triceps:
Back and Bicep:
Overpressure is a very simple and fun way of incorporating overload eccentrics. This is where a training partner or coach applies an additional manual load on top of the weight through the eccentric portion of the movement done at a tempo. Here are some examples.
Chest and Triceps:
Back and Biceps: