More muscle and more strength don’t have to go hand in hand. But they most certainly can. As muscle mass is the potential for strength. Keep this in mind throughout today’s post.
First off we must remember and program from an understanding that…
1. Strength is a skill, and movement patterns are skills.
This means it behooves us to BUILD SOLID PATTERNS (hello neural pathways – hello muscle fiber recruitment). This is the literal goal of building muscle and strength. We want to recruit the most muscle fibers in order to build muscle mass, and strength work typically has this demand on the muscle as well (high fiber recruitment).
“Fancy” movements or excitement can take place through VARIATIONS of a given pattern (ie for “squatting”: front rack step up, Zercher squats, b stance goblet squats). I fully understand and can get behind wanting clients to not get “bored” with their lifts. And when we’re in the boat of training the same 10-15 movements forever and ever amen, the risk of boredom is real.
Build and progress PATTERNS – watch the gains happen.
2. Increase time under tension.
Time under tension can be achieved many ways – more reps, more sets, longer tempo. All of these equate to the muscle group being taxed for a longer period of time from one phase to another. This provides new stimulus, and potential for more muscle gain as well as strength.
Change nothing but the tempo or volume – add more sets per session or more reps per set. Add one second per rep to your tempo (ie 18.104.22.168 👉 22.214.171.124) – boom more time spent under tension. More time under tension *can* = more mechanical tension. That = potential for gains.
3. Play with ranges of motion/angle of stress & Increase range of motion
You can add a deficit to push ups, deadlifts, lunges. Change the angle: reverse lunge to curtsy lunge (adding a glute bias), pronated rows to supinated rows (adding a bicep bias).
All these do is slightly change the stimulus to the same muscle group! Simple. Do less – change less, with more intent and purpose. Make sense? Makes sense.
If you want help implementing long term periodization from macro to meso to micro cycles, check out Pure PROgramming.
If you want to get strong, enjoy your workouts and make #educatedgains, then get on the Built by Annie waitlist.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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