When working out, too many of us fall into the same routine. We hide in our comfort zones, afraid to try something new. While you shouldn’t be changing your routine every week, it is important not to get stuck in the same groove. It’s important to shock your muscles from time to time; varying your routine to force your muscles to grow. Below, the legendary bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses the importance of shocking the muscle. To him, this was an essential aspect of training.
Arnold was known for his crazy training intensity, and his philosophy of shocking the muscle into growth demonstrates that. If you feel like you’ve hit a plateau, or are stuck at a certain point, it’s time to shock your muscles into growth. Don’t be afraid to change things up every once in a while. Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to the limit with the techniques listed below.
- Change Up Your Weight/Rep Scheme: The debate over high reps versus low reps will rage on for all eternity. However, there is no reason why you can’t see the benefits of both. Changing to lower reps will help you to build strength, allowing you to use more weight in the future. High reps on the other hand, will help you to build muscular endurance, allowing for a greater number of sets and reps in future workouts. If your muscles have become accustomed to your standard 8-12 reps, change it up! Don’t be afraid to go heavy for a week and only do 4-6 reps. You may also choose to do 15-20 reps with a lighter weight. Both have benefits, and both will provide new stimuli for your muscle, shocking it into growth.
- Supersets: Supersets are one of the most effective muscle-shocking strategies that I have ever used. To do a super-set you simply perform two exercises back-to-back with no rest between. You can superset two exercises for the same body part, or two exercises for antagonistic muscle groups. For example, one may superset front raises and then lateral raises to shock the shoulder muscles. An example of antagonistic muscle groups would be the biceps and triceps. So, when training arms one may superset barbell curls with close-grip bench press. This simultaneous working of the biceps and triceps will send a rush of blood to the arm, shocking the muscle and leaving you with a massive pump.
- Dropsets: Dropsets are another extremely effective, yet underused, method of shocking your muscles. Performing a dropset is quite simple. After your set (typically your last set), immediately lower the weight by about 20%-30% and do as many reps as possible until you reach failure. This method of working the muscle past your last set to complete muscular failure will lead to massive growth. By going heavy during your last set, and getting high reps during the dropset, you will truly shock your muscles. I can guarantee dropsets will not only leave you with a crazy pump, but also lead to greater gain in size, strength and endurance.
- Try New Exercises: Far too many of us are scared of looking stupid in the gym. As such, we usually stick to exercises that we have done a million times. Instead, venture out of your comfort zone and try something new. There are literally millions of exercises that can easily be found online for you to try. If you typically perform an exercise on a machine, try it with free weights! Conversely, don’t be afraid to try that machine in the corner that you always walk right past. If you see a guy in the gym doing an exercise you’ve never seen before, ask him about it! Most gym-goers are happy to explain what they are doing. If asking someone seems too scary, you can probably find the exercise online as well.
At the end of the day, the important thing is to try something new! Don’t get stuck in a rut. Get out of your comfort zone and see the benefits. Don’t be scared of what other people will think when they see you doing only 4 reps with a heavy weight. At the same time, be confident when using that light weight and repping out! Even if you are trying a new exercise and have no idea what you’re doing, people are probably too focused on their own workouts to even notice. At the end of the day we’re all working out to improve our bodies and our health, not because of what anyone else may think. Get out there and do your best and you will see progress.
Thanks for reading! Please share the article if you liked it, and let me know if you have any questions, or if there is a specific muscle group that you are having trouble growing. I’d be happy to suggest some exercises or training strategies!