|By Josh Bryant|
Variety is the spice to life and the key to stimulating women’s results in the weight room!
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioned Research showed that women gained nearly twice the strength, along with greater hypertrophic changes, with frequent fluctuations in training volume or using an undulated approach when contrasted to a more traditional volume equated block program.
Interestingly, in advanced male track and field athletes, block periodization has been shown to be superior to an undulated approach and a large meta-analysis (or average of studies) showed no significant differences between linear periodization and an undulated model.
Most of these studies were performed on men.
No one can say for certain why this is the case, but one possibility is established limit strength levels; it is going to be much easier for a man to add five pounds a week to an exercise than a woman. Another possibility is the hormonal differences between the sexes.
The most obvious way to change up a workout is to change an exercise.
However, let’s take a look at three ways women can add variety to their workouts without doing a totally different routine or exercise.
2. Extend the Range of Motion
While many women wish they could change their frog to a prince, a less drastic change is needed to use the same exercise to produce a different training stimulus.
One way is just increase the range of motion.
What do I mean?
Instead of deadlifting a barbell off of the floor, opt for a deficit deadlift standing on top of a two-inch elevated surface. Some other examples are a power squat becoming a close-stance high bar Olympic squat, standing dumbbell biceps curls becoming incline dumbbell curls or standing lateral raises could also be performed on an incline as well to increase range of motion—the possibilities are endless.
Lifting a weight for an extended range of motion means you do more mechanical work and lateral raises could also be performed on an incline as well to increase range of motion—the possibilities are endless. Lifting a weight for an extended range of motion means you do more mechanical work and change the training stimulus.
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3. Increase Density
Most trainers and trainees looking to overload training focus on increasing volume (weight x sets x reps) or intensity i.e. progressively lifting heavier weights.
There is an ace card most of you ladies have totally avoided—it’s called density.
Density simply means getting more work done in the same amount of time or getting the same amount of work done in less time.
Normally it takes 45 minutes to get through a workout, complete that same workout in less time, or gradually add extra sets or exercises without using less weight on exercises or increasing the time of the workout.
4. Slow the Negative
Research has shown that lifting a weight on the positive portion as fast as possible leads to the greatest size and strength gains.
However, don’t ignore the fact that some enormous benefits come via slowing down the negative portion of a rep.
Time under tension (TUT) is greatly increased this way. A set of 10 with a five-second negative could take more than three times as long as 10 reps with a traditional tempo. TUT has shown to be a very important variable to catalyze muscle growth.
Additional benefits to slow negatives include challenging your stability, improved conditioning, greater caloric expenditure and exposing flaws in exercise technique.
You don’t have to lift light weights to make slow negative training work; your muscles may be as much as 60 percent stronger eccentrically or on the negative.
So, next time you squat, instead of your tried and true three sets of 10 reps, try three sets of eight reps, but use a four to five-second negative and explode up as hard as possible, without lightening the load! Prolonging time under tension totally changes the training effect and adds much needed variety to a woman’s workout.
Variety in training does not have to mean getting over complicated and the induction of bizarre training exercises and methods.
These three simple steps can totally change the training effect of a given exercise and even on a volume-equated program. Implement these three steps and continually make progress.
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