|I sponsor the variety concept and I encourage experimentation. On a fundamental basis you can do just about any routine you want and make gains, as long as you do your reps in a controlled manner and until you feel fatigue in your muscles. If you aren't just a little bit sore after (either immediately or the next day), then you didn't work hard enough. Rest is important too, if you are exerting your sore muscles then you are not doing much good because they aren't ready!
I've been lifting for two years and I'm making progress slowly but surely. I want to make the comment that nothing happens quickly. A few people with favorable genetics will go from benching 200 to benching 300 in a short amount of time, but this is not a realistic scenario. I have the following goal for myself: I want to bench 300, squat 400 and deadlift 500 (the classic 3-4-5) at a bodyweight of 200 to 210. I currently weigh 180 to 185 so I have a lot of work to do. I want to obtain my goal in about 3 years and I am confident I can do it.
NEVER get on the scale every day and say "yeah! I gained 4 pounds since yesterday!" I can drink a large glass of water, have a protein drink, eat a small meal and in the period of 45 minutes I have gained 3-4 pounds. With progress like that, who needs weight lifting? On a more realistic scale, be sure that you are aware that bodyweight varies drastically during the day and rely on measurements taken at weekly or even better, monthly intervals. Record your bodyweight for about 3 days in a row at the beginning of each month and average for ONE monthly reading. Compare the data on this scale, you will see much more realistic indications of what is happening to your body. Above all, rely on the mirror or comments from those who see you with your shirt off to judge your level of fitness or progress.
With all this being said, let me mention a good rep technique which I periodically use for variety and improvement's sake. Make note though, you have to use great discipline or this WILL, and I mean WILL, tear a muscle or do damage of other sorts. You just have to use judgment, something so many people seem to have forgotten about.
I call these 'quartered' reps and quite simply are reps with a pause on the contraction and extension phase of the movement. For example, take a hammer curl. Normal rep you'd raise the weight from your side up to your chest and let it go back down. A quartered rep would comprise raising the weight to the midpoint (where your arm is at a 90 degree angle and the weight is out in front of you) and pausing for about 1 second, then continuing up and back down again to the midpoint where you again pause for 1 second, then lower the weight to complete the motion. This hammer curl exercise is what injured me because I used too much weight and tried to stop the weight on the way down, it kept going and I felt the effects of that for a few weeks.
The whole idea here is that we all forget about momentum and it becomes more important to get a big 'ol weight and go through the motions, thinking we somehow have control of a 60 pound weight when doing hammer curls. Drop the weight and control it, do the quartered reps in sets of about 4-7 repetitions and perhaps do just one quartered set along with 2 regular sets. You will be surprised when you get done with a month of this. I use the technique on wide grip pull ups, dips, chin ups, bench press, squat, curls and more. I enjoy it and it works for me, hopefully you find some benefit from trying it. (just remember that I told you to be careful, don't do anything drastic and don't do this unless you can actually control the weight).
|I do a variation of this with curls - I'll bring the barbell up to 90 degrees, hold, then lower, for 5 reps; raise from 90 degrees to full curl, hold, then lower to 90 degrees, 5 reps; do a full curl, holding at the top, 5 reps. Mondays, I do narrow grip; Wednesdays, medium grip and Fridays, wide grip. I follow each session with palm-in chin-ups to failure. This has resulted in longer, fuller biceps, and man does it burn!
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