Break Through Any Plateau with incorporating these different training techniques into your routine. One thing I have been having success with is incorporating static holds. This is a great way to smash through that stubborn plateau. A static hold is performed when an athlete holds an exercise while the muscle is in the contracted position for an extended period of time. This is in contrast to the normal 6-15 repetition format and is sometimes used in conjunction with static holds or drop sets. For example, if you are performing a bicep curl and you hold the dumbbell in a static position (usually until failure) when you bicep is fully contracted, that is a static hold. For this exercise, your arm will be bent at a 90-degree angle, holding the dumbbell palms up and arms parallel to the floor (see below).
Each muscle has different strength levels and the goal here is to exhaust all of them. More time under tension = more stimulated muscle growth. The first muscular function to fail is simply lifting the weight during the repetitions. When you can’t lift the weight anymore, that “strength level” is gone. At this point your muscle can still hold the weight in a static position, even after you can’t perform a full repetition. When you can no longer hold the weight with your muscle contracted, then you lower the weights slowly back down. When you fail simply lowering weight back down, that’s when you know you have hit all three strength levels and achieved complete failure across the whole spectrum of muscular tissue. This type of muscular confusion and time under tension is a great way to confuse the muscle and force it into adapting to the newfound workload…. i.e. building more muscle tissue.
I will perform (varying grip) pull-ups for 4 sets and end the last set with a static hold. Think of the static hold as a 4th set superset. I pull my chin slightly above the bar and hold it. I hold it until I start shaking and then hold it longer. Hold until you fail. Repeat the same process the next week.
Static Dumbbell Press:
While performing incline or flat dumbbell presses you can incorporate static holds at the bottom position. Be conscious of your shoulders because this is an exercise that can end with injury if you are not careful. At the end of each set hold the weight at the bottom position while keeping tension on the chest. It is important NOT to let the weight simply rest at the bottom putting tension on your shoulder and rotator cuff. Make sure you are holding the weight with your chest and maintain that position until failure after your normal reps.
This is one of my favorites as I always have had a hard time shredding the bicep. This does the trick every time. Perform any bicep exercise such as the incline dumbbell curl. Every set should be immediately followed buy a hammer curl static hold. I use a 45lb plate and hold it at the sides in the contracted position. Keep your chest up and your core tight. Hold until failure and lower it down as slow as possible. Repeat for 4 sets.
You can also experiment with static lifts on each of the following exercises to stimulate growth:
Skull crushers (with spotter)
Shoulder press (see below)
Sit-ups and ab machines
Pec deck fly’s (one of my favorites)
Standing Calf Raise
Lateral, rear, and front deltoid raises
Push Ups (see below)
Have some fun with this. Try different things and don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable. It is too easy to get stuck in the trench of maintenance. Today is Monday, which is 1 of my 2 leg days during the week.
Heavy Back Squat
Barbell Lunges (with elevated rear foot)
Static hold Leg Extensions
Followed by 1hr of Yoga
Enjoy your week and be thankful for the ability to train!