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Old 12-27-2012, 08:48 AM   #1
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Smashing through plateaus
DECEMBER 16, 2012 4:30 PM
by Brendan Evans

This article is written to a more advanced audience than some of the others. 99% of the time overcoming plateaus means more fine tuned peri-workout nutrition, better diet, being more detoxed, or getting more or better quality sleep (if you are lifting correctly). Do not take it as an insult if you ask your coach about breaking a strength or diet plateau, and the response you get has more to do with steak and chicken breast than actual exercises. This is for the crowd that knows they are eating within the macronutrient range that will promote fat loss and muscle gain. And for this article to be useful you must have your basic dieting concepts down, because a lot of “plateaus” aren’t actually plateaus and are simply the athlete being deficient in protein[peri-workout or throughout the day, either way it's a deal breaker], to where it inhibits hypertrophy.

The key to consistently breaking through plateaus is variety in training. I am of the opinion that it is best to have a routine, and focus on progressing (more weight, more reps, or more sets) every time you hit the gym. I don’t bench press one day and incline press the next upper body day…. I bench for 6 weeks to 4 months, followed by doing incline for a similar time period.

When you swap lifts with this type of regularity, it allows you to always stay in “beginner gains” mode, despite having experience… Once the beginner surge of strength stops, you move on to a different variation of the same lift. While being in a state of consistent “beginner’s gains”, you can FOR CERTAIN add weight or reps every workout. Therefore, this allows you to always expect measurable progress. Likewise, measuring progress is only possible if you have a routine, you can’t measure progress with precision if you switch exercises every time.

IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER WITH VARIATION: Tiny things, as miniscule as hand placements, or the orientation of the palm can change the exercise completely. Every exercise has a pronated palm, neutral grip, or supinated palm variation. In addition, there is angle (ie bench press/decline/incline press, as well as (pulldowns/leaning back pulldowns)). And lastly there is dumbell vs barbell as well as grip width (self explanatory).

The individual who has been doing wide grip puldowns for years would grow the most with supinated grip military style pullups, or neutral grip pullups. Anyone who has never done neutral grip bench press would gain more muscle in their triceps from that exercise, than continuing to do barbell bench press as they have for the past 3 years (with the same weight sometimes in the most depressing cases).

Switching it up to a different exercise that works the same basic movement usually does not cause the athlete to lose strength in the variation of the movement that they switch away from (and have been doing for way too long). You can stop barbell benching for 6 months to do a cycle of close grip bench, a cycle of dumbell decline bench, and a cycle of dumbell neutral grip flat bench, and you can do this without barbell bench decreasing. The novelty of the exercises will pack muscle on previously untouched parts of your body.

Here’s a list of a few exercises, and variations:

SQUAT MOVEMENT:

barbell back squat (what most people think of as a “squat”)
barbell front squat
bulgarian split squat
weighted lunge
barbell back squat starting at bottom of movement
hack squat
trap bar deadlift
1/2 squat
1/4 squat
snatch
box jumps
dynamic effort squat
leg press
1 legged leg press
bulgarian split squat foot forward stance
bulgarian split squat with high degree of flexion in knee joint
leg press with feet at the bottom of the plate
narrow stance leg press
lunges
weighted lunges
Any of the above, with added static pauses
any of the above, super fast (and with/or without cheat-form)
any of the above in slow motion
any of the above, in dynamic effort mode
any of the above with chains
any of the above with bands

DEADLIFT
Deadlift
sumo deadlift
Rack Deadlift
Deadlift off of box
Stiff legged deadlift
stiff legged deadlift with posterior pelvic tilt
hang clean
Stiff legged deadlift off box
power clean
snatch
shrugs
Any of the above, with added static pauses
any of the above, super fast (with or without cheat-form)
any of the above in slow motion
any of the above, in dynamic effort mode
any of the above, with changed foot placements
any of the above, with chains
any of the above, with bands

BICEP CURL:
dumbell curl
barbell curl
dumbell curl pronated grip
hammer curl
barbell curl pronated grip
dumbell preacher curl
barbell preacher curl
dumbell hammer preacher curl
barbell preacher curl pronated grip
dumbell preacher curl pronated grip
curls in cable crossover machine
concentration curls
machine curls
any of the above with isometric (static) pauses
any of the above with super slow concentric and eccentric phases
any of the above in dynamic effort mode (probably not worth risk of injury in this particular exercise)
any of the above with chains
and of the above with bands

(I feel compelled to add the fact that neutral grip pullups are better at strengthening the part of the bicep worked by hammer curls, and regular supinated grip pullups are better than bicep curls, for building bigger biceps)

The purpose of the list, is for you the reader to pick the exercise you have been doing for way too long (out of each category). I could come up with lists like these for every exercise, but it would take too long, and I think the reader will get the point (alter hand orientation, angle, barbell/dumbell, bands/chains). If you have done barbell back squats first in your legs workout for 5 years, pick that exercise. AND CROSS IT OFF THE LIST. Force yourself to replace the exercises you do ALWAYS with the exercises you NEVER DO. In most cases you will have more ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT on your neutral grip bench than your barbell bench, or more room for front squat improvement than back squat.

Keep getting those begginner gains by varying your routine (altering every exercise) every 6 weeks to 4 months. Just make sure that you are following a routine, so that linear progress is measurable. Every 6 weeks to 4 months have a “reset point” where you rotate exercises.

It is really the OCD of the fitness enthusiast that will have them doing barbell back squat first on legs day, for years and years, and barbell bench press first on upper body day. Usually it is severely reducing the indivudual’s potential for growth.

Another thing, for another article, is indicators of progress. Part of the reason people stick with certain lifts for so long is an overemphasis on those lifts by the powerlifting community (where literally the entire sport is bench, squat, and deadlift). Does the dumbell row matter in powerlifting? No, it only matters as much as it can increase the lifter’s bench press or deadlift. However, from a building strength standpoint, dumbell rows are equally as important as bench press (building strength and building an impressive physique are basically synonymous).

Have a routine, but vary your routine, on a regular shedule, to avoid hitting plateaus. When a lift significantly plateaus, it is time to try a different variation of that lift. Frequently, USUALLY, when you return to the original variation you will either already be stronger, or immediately start progressing rapidly, due to the gains you have experienced in a similar, but different, variation of that movement.

originally posted by author Brendan Evans at bevans100fitness.com
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:51 AM   #2
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Frequently Overlooked Exercises to Build Mass (listed)/ Busting through plateaus 2
DECEMBER 17, 2012 6:15 PM
by Brendan Evans

In my article “smashing through plateaus” I explained that varying your routine is the key to avoiding plateaus. Plateaus are, essentially, a side effect of going into the gym and doing the same thing for too long of a period. The human body adapts to stimulus…. but eventually… the body will have done all of the adapting it can do, without creating a severe structural imbalance resulting in joint problems.

Many clients are shocked to find out, that busting their bench press plateau, has nothing to do with benching (and sometimes nothing to do with pressing). Sometimes it is neutral grip front dumbell raises, for their underdeveloped anterior deltoid, sometimes it is pulldown or pullovers for their weak serratus anterior or lats. Anyways, here are some frequently overlooked exercises for major muscle groups. I am not going to explain them; if you are reading this, you are on a computer, and I encourage the reader to utilize a website, called “youtube”, you may have heard of it

There are stars ***** next to the exercises I feel most effective, and sometimes those that are most overlooked. Take particular note of these exercises, and try to rotate them into your routine at some point.

We’ll go from the ground up

Calves:

Standing calf raise machine
seated calf raise machine
weightless (one leg) calf raises of flat ground
weightless (one leg) calf raise with toes elevated (off ledge)
*jumping rope (surprisingly effective)
*running stairs
pulling sleds
jogging with a weighted vest

Tibialis Anterior:
More of a “pre-hab” exercise, working this muscle will prevent shin splints. It is the muscle that works the opposite movement of the calves, and the muscle is located on the shins. No matter how many clients I tell to do this exercise, nobody listens (because it has no direct impact on physical appearance)… Then they cry and whine about not being able to run because of shin splints.

*Toe raises- Stand, leaning on a wall, with your feet anywhere from 12 to 36 inches out from the wall. Raise your toes up off the ground, hold for a second, and then relax, and repeat. (If it is too light, move the feet outward, if it is too heavy, move the feet towards the wall you are leaning on).

quads:
Squats
*front squat (best for the vmo(rookie translation: the quadricep “teardrop” toward the inside of the kneecap))
leg press with narrow foot position
*leg press with feet low on plate
*bulgarian split squats with high degree of knee flexion
back lunges
weighted step-ups
(Leg extensions are not listed because closed chain movements are a)not healthy for knee extension and b)not effective for building large quads…. If you want “pump” get on the stairmaster after your legs workout is over, you will receive more pump than you will ever get on the leg extension machine, and more pump=more sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (rookie translation:growth))

hamstrings (knee flexors, which are the majority of the hamstrings):
*lying leg curls
*seated leg curls
sprinting
dragging sleds

hill sprinting
Note that it is very important to include isolation exercises that work out “knee flexion” (going from straight to bent knee) in your workout. Why? Because the knee flexors are untouched in the standard compound movements such as squat and leg press (all of which the knee goes from bent to straight aka “extension”)… Yet knee flexion is an essential part of basic movements such as running (the finishing of a stride once the foot has made ground contact is knee flexion). Hamstrings tend to be an underdeveloped bodypart because of this. When non-scientific bodybuilding “literature” says that squats work the hamstrings, they are referring to the hamstrings that are involved in hip extention, which if I’m not mistaken is 2 of 7 hamstrings. Thus knee flexion is untouched, except as a stabilizer in these lifts. This muscular imbalance and neglect of the hamstrings, combined with extreme strength levels, is why you see so many NFL players limp off the field, with torn hammies.

Hamstrings (hip extensor hamstrings):
*Stiff leg deadlift with posterior pelvic tilt (rookie translation: Stiff leg deadlift while sticking your ass out as much as possible)
*Stiff leg deadlift off a box
Deadlifts
Squats
Etc, Etc, standard compound movements.

Glutes:
Squats
Deadlifts
Hangcleans
Lower back hyperextensions
*Glute hyperextensions
glute bridges
*bulgarian split squats
snatches
sprinting
running stairs
hill sprints
dragging sleds
box jumps
all squat variations (1/4 squat, 1/2 squat, slow tempo squat, dynamic effort (explosive) squats)
If you are going to overemphasize one muscle in the entire human body, make it the glutes. It is the largest, strongest muscle in the body, and the joint it works is capable of an extreme range of motion. Lifters most often neglect the “hyperextension” of the hip joint. They work extension (from bent, to neutral (standing)) but neglect the range of motion that is worked by running AFTER the foot makes ground contact. This is why the two starred exercises are bulgarian split squat (one legged squat guarantees the overloaded muscle will be the legs, never the core or cns) and glute bridge (because this works the untouched range of motion in the gluteus that squat movements do not work). A lot of weightlifters experience lower back pain when jogging, and it is because they have overworked hip extension (squats) and usually COMPLETELY neglected hip hyperextension (glute bridges, sled drags, sprints). Thus, their bodies compensate by rounding the lower back, tilting the pelvis anteriorly, and placing the load on the spine, rather than the hips, to compensate for structural imbalance.

Abdominals(rectus abdominis):
Decline sit-ups
*hanging upside down sit-ups
v-ups
*dragonflags
planks

The thing to keep in mind is the abs are a muscle like any other, if you find yourself doing 30+ reps, hoping to build a six pack, remember that you are doing the same thing as lifting little pink dumbells for 70 reps to build big biceps. Spot reduction (exercising a certain area of the body to burn fat in that area) is a myth, so keep the ab workouts as heavy as everything else, or no adaptation (changes) to the physique will occur.

Obliques (The “side abs” and “V-cut”)
Weighted side bends
weighted side bends on hyperextension machine

Spinal Erectors (low back):
*Deadlifts
hangcleans
snatches
stiff leg deadlifts
*hyperextensions

any deadlift or hyperextension variation.

Lats:
*Wide grip pulldowns
narrow grip pulldowns
pullups (supinated grip)
*pullups (neutral grip)
dumbell pullovers
*rope pullovers
dips
row variations

Traps:
*Deadlifts
*Shrugs
*behind the neck press
dumbell shoulder press
military press
push press
*power clean
*hang clean
*face pulls
dumbell rows (lower traps)
barbell rows (lower traps)
dumbell cleans
*farmers walks

Chest (pectoralis major):
bench press
incline press
decline press
all of the above with dumbells
all of the above with altered hand orientation and/or grip
*cable crossovers
cable crossovers with altered cable height/angle, and/or altered hand orientation
machine pec flyes
*cable bench press
*guillotine press

Anterior Deltoid (front delt):
*Neutral grip bench press
*Neutral grip military press
*neutral grip front dumbell raise

bench press
incline press
decline press
dips
any pressing movements

Other deltoids:
Military press
*supinated grip lateral raises

*lateral raises from low pulley machine
*upright rows
hangcleans
behind the neck press
*facepulls
All lateral raise machines and variations

Triceps:
*Close grip bench press
weighted dips
*neutral grip bench press
*rack lockouts
*1/2 bench press (with extra weight, obviously)
Military press
ANY pressing movement
Closed chain movements such as tricep extensions are not healthy for the elbow joint, nor are they necessary for building huge triceps. Tricep extensions can be utilized, but just understand that I chose not to list them because they are unhealthy for the elbows, and more importantly, inneffective.

Biceps:
*pullups (or pullups on the pull-down machine)
barbell curls
dumbell curls
*preacher curls
hammer curls
dumbell rows
ANY pulling movement
ANY curling variation

Strengthening the wrist flexors/extensors:
Wrist curls (for the flexors)
Reverse wrist curls (for the extensors)

Grip:
Holding heavy objects (ie, deadlifting, without straps)

With this list of exercises, and a routine that rotates every 6 weeks to 4 months, you should easily have enough movements to avoid hitting plateaus for the next 1 to 3 years, and build an impressive, aesthetic, balanced physique.

Smashing through plateaus
DECEMBER 16, 2012 4:30 PM / LEAVE A COMMENT / EDIT

This article is written to a more advanced audience than some of the others. 99% of the time overcoming plateaus means more fine tuned peri-workout nutrition, better diet, being more detoxed, or getting more or better quality sleep (if you are lifting correctly). Do not take it as an insult if you ask your coach about breaking a strength or diet plateau, and the response you get has more to do with steak and chicken breast than actual exercises. This is for the crowd that knows they are eating within the macronutrient range that will promote fat loss and muscle gain. And for this article to be useful you must have your basic dieting concepts down, because a lot of “plateaus” aren’t actually plateaus and are simply the athlete being deficient in protein[peri-workout or throughout the day, either way it's a deal breaker], to where it inhibits hypertrophy.

The key to consistently breaking through plateaus is variety in training. I am of the opinion that it is best to have a routine, and focus on progressing (more weight, more reps, or more sets) every time you hit the gym. I don’t bench press one day and incline press the next upper body day…. I bench for 6 weeks to 4 months, followed by doing incline for a similar time period.

When you swap lifts with this type of regularity, it allows you to always stay in “beginner gains” mode, despite having experience… Once the beginner surge of strength stops, you move on to a different variation of the same lift. While being in a state of consistent “beginner’s gains”, you can FOR CERTAIN add weight or reps every workout. Therefore, this allows you to always expect measurable progress. Likewise, measuring progress is only possible if you have a routine, you can’t measure progress with precision if you switch exercises every time.

IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER WITH VARIATION: Tiny things, as miniscule as hand placements, or the orientation of the palm can change the exercise completely. Every exercise has a pronated palm, neutral grip, or supinated palm variation. In addition, there is angle (ie bench press/decline/incline press, as well as (pulldowns/leaning back pulldowns)). And lastly there is dumbell vs barbell as well as grip width (self explanatory).

The individual who has been doing wide grip puldowns for years would grow the most with supinated grip military style pullups, or neutral grip pullups. Anyone who has never done neutral grip bench press would gain more muscle in their triceps from that exercise, than continuing to do barbell bench press as they have for the past 3 years (with the same weight sometimes in the most depressing cases).

Switching it up to a different exercise that works the same basic movement usually does not cause the athlete to lose strength in the variation of the movement that they switch away from (and have been doing for way too long). You can stop barbell benching for 6 months to do a cycle of close grip bench, a cycle of dumbell decline bench, and a cycle of dumbell neutral grip flat bench, and you can do this without barbell bench decreasing. The novelty of the exercises will pack muscle on previously untouched parts of your body.

Here’s a list of a few exercises, and variations:

SQUAT MOVEMENT:

barbell back squat (what most people think of as a “squat”)
barbell front squat
bulgarian split squat
weighted lunge
barbell back squat starting at bottom of movement
hack squat
trap bar deadlift
1/2 squat
1/4 squat
snatch
box jumps
dynamic effort squat
leg press
1 legged leg press
bulgarian split squat foot forward stance
bulgarian split squat with high degree of flexion in knee joint
leg press with feet at the bottom of the plate
narrow stance leg press
lunges
weighted lunges
Any of the above, with added static pauses
any of the above, super fast (and with/or without cheat-form)
any of the above in slow motion
any of the above, in dynamic effort mode
any of the above with chains
any of the above with bands

DEADLIFT
Deadlift
sumo deadlift
Rack Deadlift
Deadlift off of box
Stiff legged deadlift
stiff legged deadlift with posterior pelvic tilt
hang clean
Stiff legged deadlift off box
power clean
snatch
shrugs
Any of the above, with added static pauses
any of the above, super fast (with or without cheat-form)
any of the above in slow motion
any of the above, in dynamic effort mode
any of the above, with changed foot placements
any of the above, with chains
any of the above, with bands

BICEP CURL:
dumbell curl
barbell curl
dumbell curl pronated grip
hammer curl
barbell curl pronated grip
dumbell preacher curl
barbell preacher curl
dumbell hammer preacher curl
barbell preacher curl pronated grip
dumbell preacher curl pronated grip
curls in cable crossover machine
concentration curls
machine curls
any of the above with isometric (static) pauses
any of the above with super slow concentric and eccentric phases
any of the above in dynamic effort mode (probably not worth risk of injury in this particular exercise)
any of the above with chains
and of the above with bands

(I feel compelled to add the fact that neutral grip pullups are better at strengthening the part of the bicep worked by hammer curls, and regular supinated grip pullups are better than bicep curls, for building bigger biceps)

The purpose of the list, is for you the reader to pick the exercise you have been doing for way too long (out of each category). I could come up with lists like these for every exercise, but it would take too long, and I think the reader will get the point (alter hand orientation, angle, barbell/dumbell, bands/chains). If you have done barbell back squats first in your legs workout for 5 years, pick that exercise. AND CROSS IT OFF THE LIST. Force yourself to replace the exercises you do ALWAYS with the exercises you NEVER DO. In most cases you will have more ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT on your neutral grip bench than your barbell bench, or more room for front squat improvement than back squat.

Keep getting those begginner gains by varying your routine (altering every exercise) every 6 weeks to 4 months. Just make sure that you are following a routine, so that linear progress is measurable. Every 6 weeks to 4 months have a “reset point” where you rotate exercises.

It is really the OCD of the fitness enthusiast that will have them doing barbell back squat first on legs day, for years and years, and barbell bench press first on upper body day. Usually it is severely reducing the indivudual’s potential for growth.

Another thing, for another article, is indicators of progress. Part of the reason people stick with certain lifts for so long is an overemphasis on those lifts by the powerlifting community (where literally the entire sport is bench, squat, and deadlift). Does the dumbell row matter in powerlifting? No, it only matters as much as it can increase the lifter’s bench press or deadlift. However, from a building strength standpoint, dumbell rows are equally as important as bench press (building strength and building an impressive physique are basically synonymous).

Have a routine, but vary your routine, on a regular shedule, to avoid hitting plateaus. When a lift significantly plateaus, it is time to try a different variation of that lift. Frequently, USUALLY, when you return to the original variation you will either already be stronger, or immediately start progressing rapidly, due to the gains you have experienced in a similar, but different, variation of that movement.

originally posted by author Brendan Evans at bevans100fitness.com
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:01 AM   #3
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Nice articles but you know they seems really big to read.
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