The muscles of the human body grow by demand. Demand is derived from placing great amounts of tension on the muscle fibers themselves triggering the breakdown and rebuilding of muscle tissue producing bigger, stronger muscles.
One of the ways we apply more tension is by creating load through weight training. The strength minded weight training individual must master a movement with a challenging weight for specified number of sets and repetitions. Once the body has adapted to the load placed on it, the organism has become stronger.
To continue to challenge the growth of the body you must add additional load to stimulate more adaptation. This is why you constantly see the successful individuals in the weight room tracking and adding weight over time through the training cycle. If you stay at the same weight or same “Tension” you will not continue to produce greater adaptation.
If we know developing strength and muscle structure is just placing muscles under greater tension then simply put you do not need to train with weight at all. You can build a strong, muscular physique strictly through body weight training and max tension protocols.
Here are a set of principles you cannot ignore if you want to grow stronger using just movement.
1. Full and Controlled Range Of Motion
You are not allowed to practice any movement unless you fully possess the movement capability required to achieve it. You must own the movement through a complete and full range of motion. If you do not know what full range of motion is, learn it, study it and make sure your sources are credible and accurate.
Stay away from things that tell you “This new exercise” Or “This new equipment” is what you need to be strong and lean. Simply put, there are no replacements for the basics.
2. Use multi limb compound movements that challenge the full body
The body is the body. If you want to read any bodybuilding magazine you will see chest day, leg day, shoulder day, arm day etc. What do all of these days have in common? They all train the body. Unless you are Frankenstein’s monster you do not need to think about leg day, arm day or any other single limb day. Instead treat your body as a unit and program patterns that challenge the entire organism at once and us your body as it was intended.
3. Learn to breathe
The human body takes 23,000 breathes per day and unless your routinely practice breathing, all of your breathes suck. Everyday life and poor posture throughout the day causes us to use incorrect mechanisms for breathing. Proper breath starts in the chest and ends in the belly. This is especially important when learning how to breathe and stabilize the midsection during training. If you have poor bracing due to poor breathing, good luck getting any stronger.
Here is the drill to practice.
Lay flat on your back on a hard surface like a floor or carpet. Pull your knees up so your feet are flat on the floor and place your hands on your belly surrounding your belly button. Begin by breathing into your nose and notice how the air begins to fill your chest. Continue to breathe through the nose and begin to expand your stomach so that your hands lift.
Once you have fully expanded your stomach you may breathe out of your mouth until you have completely exhaled and all air has left your diaphragm and lungs. Congratulations on your first real breath! Practice this daily for as long as you can tolerate.
4. Use tempo repetitions to place greater tension.
Using a tempo with your repetitions will place the muscles under tension for a longer period of time thus producing greater muscle and strength development. In any movement pattern there are two phases of movement. The eccentric (muscle lengthening) and concentric (muscle shortening) phases.
By simply mastering the tempo of speed during the repetition we can create greater muscle and strength adaptation. Try a 4-1 tempo for each repetition. This means the eccentric ( lengthening) portion of the movement should take 4 seconds. The concentric (shortening) portion of the movement should be a quick 1 second.
Now keep these seconds honest (no kids stuff!) and practice up to about 5 repetition’s each being a 4-1 tempo.
Part 2 coming soon.