High-intensity workouts using weights push your body beyond the point where it has been before. It should be noted that these techniques are not for everyone, and you will probably experience more soreness than before, but you will also increase your muscle mass and your strength significantly through the use of these techniques.
Most of us reach a point in our workouts where it just seems as if we are not progressing, and we need a little something extra to get over the hump. What is really needed is a new way to stimulate muscle growth. Our bodies begin to get used to the same routines over and over again, and when we do the same exercises repetitively we cannot expect to get different results. Bodybuilders have been using high-intensity strength training techniques for many years and know the benefits. They call them by different names, such as muscle shock, muscle confusion and muscle overload. These are what is known as advanced strength training techniques and they are used by many bodybuilders throughout the industry.
Mike Mentzer, a bodybuilder for several years and winner of the “Mr. America” title, makes an analogy between exercise and muscle growth that likens it to someone holding a hammer and a stick of dynamite. You may hit that stick of dynamite with a hammer several times and nothing happens, but when you hit it hard enough suddenly there is an explosion. The same is true with muscle growth in weight training. When you lift light or easy weights continuously, eventually you get little to no muscle growth but when you use heavier weights or high-intensity training to stimulate new muscle growth, there is a virtual explosion within your body.
High-intensity strength training is not only physical but it is also mental. You have to train your body as well as your mind to go beyond your limits. Where the mind goes the body will follow, but you must be committed to pushing yourself beyond any boundaries. There are several techniques that can be used to increase the intensity of your strength training workouts. They have all been studied by researchers and used successfully by thousands of athletes worldwide.
One such technique is known as slow training. In slow training, the weights in a given set of exercise, whether pushing or pulling, lifting or lowering, are lifted for two seconds and lowered for four seconds at the beginner level. For more advanced exercisers, the lift is ten seconds and four seconds respectively. By lifting the weight and lowering the weight slowly you are using the fibers deep inside the muscles, which stimulates new growth. In addition by lowering the weight slowly you are doing what is known as a negative. Negatives are known to stimulate new muscle growth in a short period of time.
Breakdown training is another technique used for increasing muscle strength. This particular technique involves doing a normal workout until you reach muscle failure, then immediately reducing the amount of weight by ten pounds and doing an additional two to four repetitions. You can continue to reduce the weight by ten pounds for another three sets or until you have reached complete muscle failure.
This next technique involves using a partner to assist you when you get to muscle failure. Not only can a partner help you to do more reps when you reach muscle failure, they can also be a source of motivation on those days when you're not feeling very inspired. By using your training partner to help you do an additional two to four repetitions, you will force your muscles to go beyond the point where they have gone before, and once again stimulate new muscle growth. This technique is known as assisted training.
This next high-intensity training technique has been used by bodybuilders is very effective for stimulating growth in those muscle areas that just won't respond to the usual training you're doing. Pre-exhaustion training works on the concept of attempting to exhaust the muscle first by training supplementary or connecting muscles first, which would thereby ensure that you are using that main muscle when you do your intended exercise. For example, by doing one to two sets of cable crossovers prior to doing your bench press, you will pre-exhaust some of the muscles in your chest area. When you do your bench press you will not be able to lift as much weight, but it will be more intense because some of your muscles in this area have already been worked.
Studies have shown that by applying the different high-intensity strength training techniques individuals can increase their weight loads on average between five and ten kilos. The ability to lift more weight means increased strength and muscle mass. Another benefit of these training techniques is that they allow you to get in and out of the gym more quickly. If you are looking to increase your muscle strength but do not have a lot of time, these techniques are a time efficient way to accomplish those goals. Keep in mind that these techniques should not be used every day. They should be cycled in an out of your regular routine, no more than two times per week, for a period of six to eight weeks.