What are The Best Ways To Keep Making Gains?

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question-icon-newWhat is the best way to rotate an exercise program to allow for continued training without overdoing it so I can keep making gains in muscle size and strength? For instance, if my workout schedule consists of shoulders, biceps and triceps on Wednesday, is that the only time I can train those muscle groups or can I train them after a break and maybe work them on Saturday of the same week, as well?

answer-icon-newGreat question and I will of course have some questions for you to ponder. So here goes: Will you or have you tried changing your cardio routine as well (I’m assuming your exercise routine also includes some type of cardio)? If it does not, remember physical fitness is not only building muscular strength but to improve the cardiovascular system as well. Another question: do you work each body part with the same exercises you used the week before or do you hit the muscles with new, different and challenging exercises? For example, do you always do the same old squats on the Smith machine with 50 pound plates, while never changing the weight lifted or changing the number of sets or reps performed per exercise? Or do you perform squats using the Smith machine one week, then change to squats with free weights and lunges the next week? Consistently challenging the muscles in as many ways possible will not only strengthen your muscles but will greatly improve muscular endurance. It will also improve bone strength which is equally important for men and women to prevent osteoporosis in the future.

As I mentioned above, alternating the type of cardiovascular exercise is equally important. Just like one does by alternating resistance exercises by varying the amount of weight lifted, number of repetitions and number of sets stimulates and challenges the muscles with differences in the above mentioned, we also want to challenge the heart and lungs in as many ways possible. Not only will switching up the type of aerobic exercise result in a more efficient heart rate but oxygen consumption as well and thus an improvement in your overall cardiovascular conditioning.

The three components of aerobic and anaerobic exercise or (weight training and cardiovascular exercise) that should always be utilized to obtain maximum results are as follows

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Duration

split-workout-routinesWhen the goal is to see improvements in muscular strength, endurance and size, you need to challenge these three components or your body will remain the same. For example, if you performed the same shoulder press exercise using 15 pounds, 12 reps and 3 sets, your shoulders would not gain strength or size because after a while the muscles are simply not being challenged enough. There are many ways to rotate through any exercise routine for the above reasons, but also to stimulate your brain and keep you motivated by obtaining the results you desire.

For example, try using free weights for shoulders, biceps and triceps and do the exercises with heavier weight than you are used to. Hit each muscle with the exercises you are currently doing. After you have completed your weight routine while making sure to hit all the muscle groups for your shoulders, biceps and triceps, work these muscles again by make sure to use NEW exercises for each with at least 2 different exercises.

Below are a few examples for each muscle group that you can review for further clarification. Please note, you will find lots of different exercises for all muscle groups on ShapeFit’s exercise guides page, so please use the site as a great resource to improve and increase your current knowledge of fitness, nutrition and overall health. And at the same time gain a better understanding of the hard work you are doing.

Here is a 2 week workout routine I recommend for you:

Workout Routine (Week #1):

Shoulders:

Biceps:

Triceps:

Workout Routine (Week #2):

Shoulders:

Biceps:

Triceps:

Besides weight training, I would like to suggest you consider “alternative” forms of muscle building practices. Have you ever done yoga? I suggest yoga to everyone, not only because yoga is one of my passions, but because I have seen and felt first hand a change in my body. Maybe you currently are practicing yoga, but if you are not then yoga will help keep you challenged physically and mentally. Checkout these basic yoga poses to start out. Yoga poses (or asanas) can challenge the muscles and your overall stamina in ways lifting weights can’t.

For a cardio workout using all of these muscle groups, you could also try the rowing machine at the gym. Or, for a full body workout that will give you killer abs as well, try boxing! If a boxing class is not available then just put on some boxing gloves and hit the bag! I can’t even begin to tell you how satisfying it is to punch the hell out of a bag. Cross, jabs, hooks and upper cuts will get your arms and core into great shape, not to mention the venting and aggression one can take out on a punching bag! Mad at your boss? Punch the bag! Co-worker a jerk? Punch the bag! Boxing is such a great workout and a heck of a lot cheaper than a therapist!

Explore what works for you. Try these alternate routines for at least 6-8 weeks being mindful to really challenge yourself mentally and physically with several of the suggestions I have given you. After several weeks, I am sure you will see a difference in how your whole body looks and feels!

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About Author

Lisa Ronco

I am a Registered Dietitian, and accredited through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners as a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, a certified Personal Trainer and Spinning Coach with over ten years experience in the fitness and wellness industry. See my profile page for more information!

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