Level Up. How to Increase Strength, Build Muscle and Lose Weight.
In my last post I talked about work capacity and how you can improve it and the importance of having good work capacity.
As I said before, at the start it’s very easy to improve your capacity. Same way it is to improve anything in fitness at the start.
And again, just like everything else, as you progress it gets harder and harder to get to the next level and keep getting fitter and building muscle and strength.
So what do you do when you are highly trained and have a high work capacity?
Because you’ve been improving your work capacity, you are already well adapted. The same routine that got you were you are won’t get you to the next level sadly.
You need to kick it up a gear and put your body through a higher level of stress and stimuli for it to adapt.
So how do we go about doing this?
As i talked about in my last blog, if you’re a beginner it’s easy. Just do something. If you’ve never lifted weight, lifting light weights is progress and it’s easy to progress. Same with running, if you’ve never run the length of yourself, doing anything will be progress.
You’re body will improve since you only need the smallest training progression and activation reaction to adapt.
So once you’re far past that and highly trained, there will be factors that will affect your progress. Such as your genetic makeup and how different training has different results for each individual person. This means there is no one size fits all plan to follow exactly.
The right training program will vary from person to person.
But there are still a few things that will be involved in levelling up regardless on the exact training plan you follow to suit you.
Some of things you can do are:
1) Decrease intensity and increase training volume over a few months
2) Decrease volume for heavy main lifts and increase the volume on accessory exercise.
3) Add or up cardio training
There are a few tried and tested methods proven to work over time.
Up your Reps
Pretty simple, right? Add more reps into your workout.
A good base to work off, is to pick a weight that you are able to do 8 sets of only 1 rep on. So this is going to be very high to your max as it’s only 1 rep per set. But there are 8 sets so the focus isn’t on banging out reps so getting a second rep in should be difficult.
Then slowly add a rep on your sets until you are doing 8 sets of 2 reps.
Then once you’ve done that, up the weight and go back to the start.
Up your Sets
Again, another simple solution. Add more sets into your work out.
As an example we’ll use probably the most common set and rep range. 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
I think when I first started training I did 3 sets of 8 on every exercise every work out. See, this is why you get someone who knows what they’re doing to guide you in your training.
So for example, if you’re doing 3 sets of 8 reps on 90kg bench press and that is your max, nothing more to give.
Add an extra set on the end and only do one rep. Then the next time you’re bench pressing add a second rep on that extra set. And a third the session after that.
Keeping going until you’re up to 5 sets of 8. Once you’ve achieved that, that shows that your work capacity has improved.
There progression after that would be to up the weight and go back to 3 sets of 8. Then back to adding 1 rep per training session. It’s not that much more per session but it starts to add up as you go.
Once you’ve gone back down to 3 sets after upping the weight, the volume is lower than what you’ve been used to. So this sets you up to build up volume on a new weight.
The word that every gym rat fears.
I don’t know a single person who goes to the gym to lift weight to build muscle and get stronger that enjoys or even does cardio.
But yes, cardio training will help your training and your all round health and fitness.
Now don’t worry. You don’t have to turn into a marathon runner.
20mins of cardio in the morning will do fine.
You also want to think about the type of cardio. Something like skipping has very little impact on the joints compared to running. This is very impact of that your cardio training doesn’t impact your weight training.
You don’t want your body or joints to be hurting or fatigued by your cardio training which will affect your main focus of weight training.
Cardio doesn’t need to become your main focus. Just add it in around your weight training. This is a simple and easy way to increase your work capacity.
Adding in finishers after your strength training is a good way to improve work capacity.
If possible, try to make your finishers as movement specific as possible.
This is a very popular method in strength athletes as cardio can impact on your “gainz”.
It is possible that cardio releases catabolic hormones that can kill your anabolic response to strength training.
However, this is up for debate and this type of training will impact people differently.
So what are finishers and what should you do?
Finishers are quick, intense movement specific exercises that can be done at the end of work outs.
These are intense and pretty hardcore exercises. Some examples are:
· Sled pushes
· Battle ropes
· Tyre flips
· Assault bike
· Sprints on the rower
And much, much more. There are so many other options.
Increasing work capacity is key to fitness. The best athletes ever have always found ways to do more than their competition.
Mastering this will allow you to adapt, improve and smash your goals and the competition.