Have you reached the plateau? Think about a dramatic change in the training program? Not so fast! Use micro-adjustments for non-stop growth!
Last week, you trained in new equipment and used wrist straps in all types of bench press.
The week before, you worked in the style of bodybuilding, crushed iron in the press of the "Guillotine" and did stretching after each approach to force the maximum growth of the muscles of the chest. Now, the development of force indicators is at the center of attention.
In this case, you need to protect the shoulder joints from wear caused by non-functional bench press options.
This means that now it was the turn to connect the press on the floor, dumbbells and push-ups. Many athletes became victims of this logic, according to which, in order to develop a strong, strong and athletic body, all variables of the training process must be used at once.
In the end, you need the best of all worlds, right?
Most athletes too often change the variables of the training process, as a result of which they remain weak, frail and not athletic. With continuous changes, they never allow their bodies to reach the saturation point in the progressive overload that is needed to achieve success.
Do not follow their example, instead move forward using progressive overload.
The two main mechanisms of adaptation are the engines of progress
For the progress in the gym meet two adaptive mechanisms: your nervous system becomes more effective (neurological mechanism), or your muscles grow by increasing the cross-sectional area of each fiber, which leads to increased muscle contraction (physiological).
1. Neurological mechanism. Increasing the efficiency of the central and peripheral nervous system leads to an improvement in intramuscular and intermuscular coordination. Since your body gets used to a certain pattern of motion, repeated repetition of the exercise with the recruiting of certain motor units leads to progress. Also, the term "neuromuscular" efficiency should be understood as an improvement in the technique of performing the movement.
2. Physiological mechanism. These are changes in tendons, ligaments and muscle strength that allow you to generate more effort, have a larger cross section of fibers and cope with greater weight.
The bottom line is that at first the neurological mechanism of adaptation is the main engine of your progress in the gym.
Let's say you fell into a deep depression after your favorite team flew out of the playoffs. You locked yourself in the house and did not go to the hall for two months. After two months of rest from sit-ups, you will see a rapid increase in strength indicators.
The reason for this is mainly improvement of intramuscular and intermuscular coordination, increase in the efficiency of motor units, and not an increase in muscle volume.
We will fast forward six weeks. You are still becoming more effective (neurologically), but in parallel you are building up a dry mass, which also becomes the engine of progress. Eventually, the forward movement slows down, and you find yourself on the inevitable training plateau. Cursed dead zone, which causes most lifters to throw out a white flag and grab onto a new training program every 4-6 weeks.
Obviously, this is a problem.
When you change too many variables in one fell swoop, you, in fact, start anew. Such a strategy steals from you so significant developments in the long term. By changing the key training parameters, you do not allow the body to use neurological and physiological adaptation mechanisms to achieve global goals.
Therefore, instead of cardinal changes make micro-adjustments: small changes in grip, width of legs, position of hands and the position of the feet, which will help to continuously progress in the gym.
Microcorrections are point changes in the technique of performing exercises that do not change the pattern of motion itself, but help to avoid a training plateau. In practice, this means that instead of switching from a classic bench press to the bench press lying on the floor, you need to slightly adjust the position of the hands or grip when the first symptoms of training stagnation appear.
Below are listed the most popular basic exercises and possible options for micro-adjustments. Use them to ignite the spark of progress and not rest against the invisible wall.
During squats, more than 200 muscles are activated, so squats are considered the king of all exercises. Success in this kind of program is the key to the development of impressive strength and muscle mass.
There are thousands of options for sit-ups, but I would recommend a little change in technique in front or classic squats, when there is a need to speed up progress.
High boom position. At a high position the bar rests on the upper part of the trapezius muscles, and the body is located more vertically. The high position of the rod is often combined with the position of the legs on the width of the shoulders and the shift in emphasis to the quadriceps.
Low rod position. In squats with a low rod position, a wider stand is used, which often leads to a more noticeable torso bending forward and a more upright position of the shins. Due to these changes in biomechanics, the gluteal complex, the lower back and the muscles of the posterior surface are more actively used, and at the same time the load on the knee joints is reduced. It can also reduce the amplitude of movement, so many athletes can squat with a lot of weight.
Without a doubt, it is necessary to take into account the anatomical features of each athlete. For example, a basketball player with an increase of 220 cm will definitely not crouch as the powerlifter with the growth of 160 see. Play with rack options for a more even development of strength.
Wide stand. It is believed that a wide rack more efficiently works the back muscular chain. With a wide setting of the legs, the amplitude of movement is reduced to the level of the parallel and the load on the gluteal complex, the posterior surface of the thigh and the adductor muscles grow. On the other hand, the load on the hip joints can also be high.
A wide stance significantly increases the activity of the gluteus and the long adductor muscle. The maximum activation is observed at 140% of the width of the shoulders. If you want to set a new personal record or accentuate the gluteal complex, the hamstrings and the adductor muscles, you should pay attention to the wide rack.
Legs shoulder width apart. A conventional stance holds the hips together and limits the participation of the driving muscles in the exercise. It is believed that quadriceps are more efficiently studied. In addition, this version of squats has more in common with a weightlifting push than squats in a wide rack.
Most athletes crouching in the usual rack, keep the feet in neutral, while in a wide rack the toes slightly diverge sideways. This helps to increase the "foot area", avoid valgus deformation of the knees and maximize the recruitment of the muscles in the back chain. Play around with different stop positions to change the pattern of muscle activation and increase comfort during squats.
Pulling forward and backward grip
Pull-ups are one of the best indicators of the athlete's relative strength. This is an unbeatable exercise for the development of the V-shaped torso, and at the same time dense, venous and spectacular biceps. In addition, many muscles participate in stabilizing the shoulder joint, for example, posterior deltas, small round, subacute and even small pectoral muscles. Develop strength in pull-ups with the help of varying techniques.
The Supervised. The suppressed, or lower, grip turns a classical exercise into pulling up by a back grip, in which most of the athletes are noticeably stronger. This option is better suited for beginners, who need to increase the volume and overall fullness of muscles in movements with vertical traction.
Interestingly, a few years ago, Bret Contreras conducted a remarkable study using EMG (electromyography). He came to the conclusion that pull-ups with a back grip and a wide grip are almost identical in terms of development of the widest muscles of the back, while pull-ups with a back grip create a big load on the biceps.
Bottled. A variant with a penetrated, straight or upper grip is often called real pull-ups, in which the rear deltas, rhomboid muscles and trapezes perform the maximum work on stabilizing the shoulder joints. In the meantime, the widest back muscles are doing the main job.
In general, there is less stress on elbow flexors, because of which the majority of athletes are pulled less than once using a reverse grip. If you focus on the pure development of the muscles of the back, pulling up a direct grip should be included in your program.
Neutral. If you have problems with shoulder joints, a neutral grip, perhaps, will be the best option. Neutral grip creates conditions for more natural movement of wrists, elbows and shoulder girdle. Neutral grip reduces compression of the capsule of the shoulder joint, thereby minimizing the ligament infringement and the risk of developing an imipidment syndrome.
Plus, like bending the hand with a "hammer" grip, the neutral grip is more likely to work on the shoulder muscles than the biceps, which contributes to the formation of a spectacular relief of the upper arm.
Wide (more width of shoulders). A wide grip shifts the emphasis on the upper divisions of the broadest muscles, the rear deltas, rhomboid muscles and the mid-lower trapezium. Most often, with this type of pull-up, a straight grip is used.
With a wide grip, the degree of abduction in the shoulders increases, which reduces the amplitude of the movement of the latissimus muscles and can be a problem for the shoulder joints of some athletes. Although the range of motion decreases, exercise is of great importance for the overall development of the back muscle complex.
Hvat on the width of the shoulders. Hvat on the width of the shoulders is the most common variant of pull-ups, which creates good stimuli for the widest muscles, trapeziums and biceps. This is a classic grip for pull-ups, which can be the best option for most of your vertical links.
Narrow grip (a little narrower than the width of the shoulders). A narrower grip increases the degree of extension in the shoulders. Since the range of motion increases, to overcome the full amplitude, the latissimus and the biceps are forced to perform a little more work.
In the study of the "Journal of Power and Functional Training" EMG was conducted with a wide and narrow grip. The force of contraction of the broadest muscles in both variants of motion was measured. It turned out that a narrow grip is the best way for maximum recruitment of the latissimus muscle of the back.
There is no wrong grip or wrong width, just use a variety of traction options for versatile development of the musculature. Such a strategy will lead to a balanced development of muscles, prevent injuries from overload and increase the strength indicators in all traction movements.
Thrust rod inclination is an excellent choice for strengthening muscle stabilizers, increasing the static force in an inclined position and working with heavy weights for the development of the thickness of the back. The direction of the rod movement can dramatically change the degree of muscle recruitment. With the rod pulling toward the breast, the load on the rear deltas, the middle sections of the trapezoid and the rhomboid muscles increases. With traction to the lower sections of the chest, the load on the latissimus muscles increases.
The Supervised. The supine, or lower, grip requires a huge work of the biceps and provides a greater direct load on the biceps muscles than any isolating movement. For many athletes the supine grip will be enough to force a new round of biceps growth. Moreover, the supine grip is usually already, which increases the range of motion and more effectively works out the latissimus muscles.
Bottled. The penetrated grip allows to reduce the load on the biceps, while forearms, trapezoids and middle parts of the back are included to a greater extent. If you pull the bar to the stomach, the participation in the movement of the widest muscles increases.
Wide grip (wider than shoulders). A wider grip puts the shoulders in the position of a larger lead, which increases the load on the top of the back. This creates great incentives for the middle and lower trapezium, rhomboid and rear deltas.
Narrow grip (shoulder width or narrower). A narrow grip holds the elbows closer to the trunk, and this is the main function of the broadest. This creates the conditions for more stretching and subsequent reduction during rod pull. All this is very good, but be careful when pulling the bar back. If you go too far, you can provoke the slide of the head of the humerus forward along the articular cavity, known as anterior shoulder glide, which can lead to potential problems with the shoulders.
Use different options for grasping and width of the arms in the rod rod in the slope, just fix the changes in the load and mark when "feel" that the movement is working.
Like squats, deadlift is the ruling monarch in the context of generating training stimuli for the entire body. To clarify, I mean traditional stanovuyu, cravings for sumo, Romanian stanovuyu and cravings mixed grip – all these are excellent options that should be found in most training programs. Just pick one and do it for a long time.
Perforated or upper. Use the upper grip as long as possible to develop grip strength. Unfortunately, most athletes find it difficult to squeeze water out of the sponge, which results in the grip of the water before the main engines of the deadlift are tired. Use a straight grip, but when working with submaximal scales, switch to mixed.
Mixed grip. With a mixed grip, one hand is in the pierced, the other – in the spinning position. In the deadlift, this option increases the grip strength. It is great for working with heavy weights, but can lead to muscle imbalance if you do not change hands. Moreover, if the elbow of the supine arm does not fully unbend, the load on the biceps increases dramatically, which increases the risk of developing the distal tendon of the biceps muscle. Mixed grip is an excellent choice for heavy weights, just do not forget to change your hands to maintain balance, and completely unbend elbows.
Hvat "hook". Hvat hook is common in Olympic weightlifting, but it works well in heavy drafts. Circle the bar with your thumb, and then grab the thumb with the rest of your fingers to get a very strong grip.
Most athletes do not work with a hook grip long enough to get used to the discomfort. In that case, you will have to wait. Snap hook is the best option for balancing the grip strength and strength of the main muscles in your deadlifts.
Straps. The straps do an excellent job of compensating for a weak grip, allowing you to lift heavy weights and complete more repetitions. And yet, these "crutches" interfere with the development of the muscles of the forearm and the strength of the grip during the deadlift. Use them sporadically for multi-repetitive sets or protocols aimed at hypertrophy, and do not turn them into an indispensable accessory.
The position of the hips is often determined by anatomical differences and training experience. Beginners tend to start traction with a very low position of the pelvis, as in squats. Instead, it is better to lower your hips by a quarter of the depth of the squats. This position allows you to take the pelvis back and keep the shins in an upright position, which helps increase the tension of the rear muscle chain to increase traction.
People with long thighs will keep the thighs higher, while the most stocky of us will lower the hips below. In any case, play with different positions of the hips, placing them a dozen centimeters above or below to change the requirements for the muscles.
The lower the hips, the stronger the flexion in the knee joints and the higher the load on the quadriceps in the initial phase of traction. In addition, your calves will move forward, because of what will have to pull the bar "bypass". The higher the hips, the higher the requirements for the muscles of the lumbar spine, gluteal complex and hamstrings. Only strain the abdominal press to avoid flexing in the lower back, hold the bar directly under the shoulders, and the tibia – vertically at the beginning of the deadlift.
The position of the jump. If you find it difficult to find a comfortable stop position, try this: jump up and remember the position of the stop. This is an ideal position for most athletes and a good workout before the deadlift.
Neutral position of the feet. The neutral position of the feet is more common among low and flexible lifters. When the feet are in neutral position, the participation of the leading muscles in the deadlift is limited.
A small turn of the feet outside. Athletes with long thigh bones or poor flexibility may be more comfortable with the stop turning outwards at 15 degrees. This will help a little to take your knees out, bypassing the calves in the initial phase of movement and connecting the traction muscles to the traction.
The technique of performing deadlift is of paramount importance, and much is determined by your anatomy and flexibility. Find a comfortable position and periodically make point corrections for different muscle stimulation.
So, exercise the name Monday. Most guys do not change the technique of bench press lying down for many years, and then thoughtfully scratch their heads when they find themselves on a training plateau or face shooting pains in the shoulder joints. Try these techniques to change the type of grip and width of the hands.
Wide grip. In many lifters, the strength of the bench press increases simultaneously with the width of the grip, probably because of the shortening of the range of motion. In addition, a wide grip enhances the activation of pectoral muscles. At the same time, for most athletes, an increase in the width of the grip is associated with an increase in the load on the shoulder joints, so it is necessary to approach the question with caution.
Narrow grip. A narrow grip, which is often combined with pressing elbows to the torso, can be safer for your joints. Pressing a narrow grip on 210% increases the activity of the triceps as compared to the bench press by a wide grip.
There is a rational grain in this, since the amplitude of motion increases, and for greater extension at the elbow, more effort is required. Put your hands on the width of your shoulders or slightly narrower. Please do not be one of those idiots who take their hands off the middle of the neck. It kills your wrists.
Fake grip. With a false grip, you do not grip the neck with your thumb. For security reasons, I'm not a big fan of this option (always work with the insurer, guys), but as a result, you keep the bar slightly lower than usual. This helps to position the wrists and elbows in a more stable position and increase the peak force in the bench press.
It is not necessary to reshape the training program when events do not develop according to your scenario. Instead, focus on micro-adjustments, point changes in technology that will help continue the development of strength indicators.
Every change, no matter how small, gives you another exercise. You get a unique pattern of muscle recruitment, which slightly changes the adaptation reactions. If some version of the exercise has stopped producing results, even a minimal change will help you break out of the impasse, and you do not have to completely change the training program.
Good article, a lot of details in the training process described, thank you!