If it challenges you it will change you. This is ultimately what building muscle at any and every age comes down to.
Whether you have heavy weights and tons of equipment or simply your own bodyweight you can create that challenge.
But there are 5 key training techniques and tips I want to share that can help you challenge your muscles in a way that forces them to grow as efficiently and effectively as possible.
And ladies, if you want to stay lean and strong as you get older, don’t fear those heavy loads!
While diet is key to build muscle you need to make sure your workouts are designed to aid in muscle growth.
Here are 5 training techniques to improve your workout designs and help you strategically use moves to see results more efficiently.
Tip #1: Start your workouts with heavy compound lifts.
Start your workouts more global before you slowly hone in and isolate those more stubborn areas.
Include big compound movements like the deadlift or bent over barbell row to start your workout.
The heavier and more complex the lift, the more it benefits from us being fresher.
The more fatigued we are, the more we can tend to compensate.
It’s not only our muscles but also our mind-body connection that can fatigue over the workout.
After the heavier lifts you can focus more on stubborn areas with lighter loads for slightly higher reps.
Tip #2: Use Rest-Pause Technique
This technique helps you build muscle by basically allowing you to work to failure multiple times in a set.
This leads to great muscle activation and can help you break through a plateau.
You can actually even use lighter loads with this increase in volume and hit near failure because of how you’re adjusting your rest periods.
While there are many ways to do this technique, the key is starting with a set to almost failure, then short rest periods of no more than 20-30 seconds max before completing another few sets.
One of my favorite designs to include with a big compound movement is the 10-7-3-1 set.
Pick a weight that you can do for about 12 reps.
Do 10 reps with that weight. Rest for a 10 count.
Then do 7 reps with the same load.
Rest 7 seconds then do 3 reps.
Rest 3 seconds and then do a single rep of the movement.
This lets you do 21 reps with a weight you could technically do no more than 12 reps with.
Tip #3: Include fast-paced power movements.
Part of why we can lift more is that neuromuscular-efficiency or the ability to recruit muscles to the correct extents efficiently to lift a weight or perform an exercise.
That is why you may want to include a little explosive power work in your routines even if your focus is on building muscle.
This is especially key as we get older as our reaction times tend to slow, putting us at an increased risk for falls and fractures.
You can add explosive work to start your workout or as interval work during a cardio day between lifting sessions.
You aren’t just trying to get out of breath.
Think lighter loads, lower rep ranges and training for speed.
med ball slams, sprints and battle ropes are all great options.
Think all out explosive then stopping before your pace slows and resting till you are fully recovered.
Intervals should be no more than 20 seconds with 3-5 times the rest!
Tip #4: Focus on total loads lifted.
Lifting heavier isn’t just about the weight you use for a single rep or even set.
So while yes, you want to use heavier weights for that set of lunges, it isn’t just that single set where you lifted heavy that pays off.
It’s about moving more weight in total during each training session and over the course of weeks and months.
More quality weight lifted overall is what really creates that muscle growth.
Your Training density, or the amount of work performed in a certain amount of time is key.
With Density Training, you’ll want to set a timeframe for your set – 10-15 minutes is usually good.
Pick 2-3 heavy compound lifts to include per set and do 2-3 sets per workout. It’s best to do these for different areas so one area gets rest as the other works.
For example you might pair Squats and Overhead Press together. Pick a weight you can do no more than 10 reps with at max.
Start with 5-8 reps of each movement so you feel like you have no more than 2 left in the tank when you put the weight down and change exercises. As you fatigue, instead of going down in loads reduce your reps. By the end you might only be doing 1-2 reps alternating back and forth.
You’ll do MORE reps with heavier loads over the 10-15 minute training time.
That volume of weight moved over weeks and months adds up.
Tip #5: Focus on what you feel working.
What you feel working during an exercise is what is benefiting from the movement.
If you only feel your quads instead of your glutes during lunges you may find your quads are growing but not your butt isn’t despite all of the “glute work” you’re doing.
This is why you need to focus on consciously trying to contract the muscle and load it during a movement.
By shifting your focus to trying to recruit and contract the muscle harder, you can actually even aid in better muscle growth for even the most stubborn of areas.
Focus on contracting a lagging muscle even before increasing loads as if you were trying to make it almost cramp.
You may even find that, if you struggle during compound moves, like lunges, to activate your glutes, that a little activation work prior to help establish that mind-body connection through a slight pump pays off.
And don’t be afraid to vary postures or positioning during movements, for example using a slight bit more of a hip hinge when you lunge backward to help yourself better engage the muscles you want to target. Little movement variations and tweaks can pay off!
Using these 5 training techniques you can take your programming to the next level and see more efficient muscle gains no matter your training experience!
Remember it isn’t just about lifting more or doing a right move, it is about making sure everything in our training is included with a purpose and helping us be intentional to make each and every session of the highest quality.
For more tips to help you build muscle check out these 5 habit changes you will also want to make…