Lift heavier weights or do more reps – oh what to do?
It’s a great feeling when you’re nailing your sets, when previously you might have sweated profusely when you first looked at your workout schedule, wondering how on earth you could ever complete that!
However, there comes a time when a plateau kicks in and that once brutal workout becomes somewhat comfortable and familiar.
It’s true that in order to build on progress, you need to be in constant challenge and the question now here lays in where and what needs to be ramped up?
You might assume that it’s a natural flow to lift heavier as your weights start to feel far easier to use, but there are plenty of other ways to increase ‘overload’, which is the key ingredient for advancing your performance.
Before you rush into pushing cars around the car park or carrying boulders across grassy marshes, here are some ways to look at increasing your workload and when it’s time to do this:
Overload and types of progressions
You reach the target amount of reps for each set and you feel as if you could have achieved more than the maximum end of that number.
When your weights are feeling much easier, try slowing the rep speed down significantly first and perform your set with laser focus, using a controlled tempo in each direction.
For example; 3 seconds lifting, 1 second pause at mid point and 3 seconds back to the start position.
Control/Range of Motion:
Instead of adding more weight, increase range and depth with controlled speed.
Mastering the basics with each movement can improve strength, so perhaps look to achieving your perfect set with all things in place such as rep speed, range of motion and great form, as a priority before consideration moving to the next level.
An alternative to adding more weight, is to add in the challenge of another exercise by tagging it to the same set.
Another aspect of training and overload is to look at how much you are actually getting in with your sessions in terms of amount of exercises/sets and how you are working through these in order.
As your arsenal of feats increase, it’s likely that you will need less rest time between sets while using a certain weight. You can try shortening the rest gap that you take or yes, increase the weights.
The principle of ‘overload’ can look like many different ways to tweak the difficulty of your training for progress, but an important factor when deciding what avenue to head down is… what are you trying to achieve?
Bringing Your A Game:
While it’s great to have all things aligned when it comes to working on your progressions and with your goal in clear view, it’s also helpful to look at what is going to inspire your very best effort.
What you are more likely to stick with and apply more grit to when it comes to your workouts, what is going to keep you honest with consistency, great balance in other areas of your life and of course, what is going to fuel that fire in your belly?!