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"Break the Training Monotony"

Human beings are creatures of habit and this holds true to almost everything we do, even when it comes to weight training. It is quite common to see people train year round, performing the same workout routines while frustrated with their lack of improvement in strength or body composition. My first suggestion for those who are lacking progress in the gym is to take some time off to allow for a certain level of recovery. All too often, the avid weight lifter is overtraining in some form or another. Rather than planning a week of recovery, they feel it is necessary to train five out of the seven days of the week. Avoid this common mistake by planning your workouts ahead of time, along with days away from the gym. After your resting period, you can use these techniques to break out of the monotonous routines of the past:

One of the best methods to increase core strength and balancing of power in opposite limbs is the use of unilateral movements. Instead of performing an exercise with both limbs at the same time, you separate each side of the muscle group and execute the movement on one side and then work the opposite side. Perform the movement of your choice in the similar fashion as you would regularly, just be sure to make the necessary adjustments so you can carry out the exercise with maximum stability. Another important note: if your core strength is not at the level it should be, these types of exercises require less poundage so make sure you are using a lighter amount of weight when starting unilateral movements.

Static holds and partials are another two techniques that can be implemented to increase muscle size and strength. Static holds are usually performed during last set of a movement. Rather than racking the weight after the last repetition on the final set, the trainee will hold the weight as long as possible in his strongest position until muscle failure occurs. Partials are simply performing an exercise through a short range of motion. Partials are similar to static holds in that they are executed at the end of the work set and are usually performed in the strongest position. Both of these techniques will increase the intensity of the workout considerably and require a training partner or personal trainer for safety purposes.

Lastly, the rotation of exercises for each muscle group should be changed to prevent stagnancy. I recommend choosing three movements that you find the most effective for the body part you are training and rotate these movements for each and every workout. If you find yourself no longer progressing in one particular movement, then drop the movement and pick up a new exercise. This allows the trainee to keep track of his or her progress while ensuring the necessary change in a workout routine when the time is right. Using a rotation is extremely important but don’t go overboard. If you are constantly changing your workout, it becomes difficult to monitor your progress.

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How to Avoid Common Pitfalls During the Summer Off-Season

With the summer months ahead, athletes have the opportunity to concentrate on various sports of their choice. How they utilize the off-season can influence their success for the upcoming fall or spring semester athletics. Not all athletes are created equal so off-season weight training is a great tool for those to get ahead or catch up to the more dominant players. In this article, we are going to cover how to avoid some of the common pitfalls made during off-season training.

Have an organized approach to your training and set specific goals for the summer months. Rather than spending countless hours in the gym day in and day out, designate specific days for intense training and then back off to allow for recovery. On average, a lifter can sustain a high level of intensity for a 4 to 6 week period before over training takes places and stagnancy sets in. With this in mind, I recommend a minimum of 4 to 5 days off after the completion of an intense training block. On the days away from the gym, focus more on eating and getting the necessary sleep to facilitate muscle growth and recovery.

Poor nutrition runs rampant among adolescents and it is no surprise to see how this affects their play on and off the field, not to mention lack of muscle growth while training during the off-season. I am a firm believer of using supplements, but as effective as they are, they cannot replace food. Teenage athletes in particular tend to focus on the latest, greatest supplements rather than concentrating on correct eating and training. Eat consistently throughout the day, while emphasizing your consumption of 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Furthermore, make it a point to eat a minimum of 50 grams of protein and equal amount of carbohydrates immediately after a training session.

Incorporate the correct type of conditioning to your training regimen so that your level of endurance is developed for your particular sport. All too often I see athletes run for miles while preparing for sports in which require short bursts of sprinting. This approach to conditioning is ineffective and causes unnecessary fatigue. At HCP, we use a Prosek Lunge Breaker on the days off from the gym. This unique sled is an excellent piece of equipment to develop length strength and stamina for football players in particular.

These training techniques combined with proper nutrition will ensure your success during the off season months of summer. I guarantee you they will be extremely effective, especially in comparison to the other athletes using a hit and miss approach. Feel free to contact me with your results or if you have any questions about how to improve your training program. Gareth@hcpbarbell.com

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