It is critical to progress with your training, and one of the most common methods is to increase the weight we lift. However, we frequently reach a training plateau where we feel we cannot physically go any heavier but still want to progress. There may also be limitations in the kit available, or we may simply not want to go heavier at this time. There are numerous ways to increase the intensity and difficulty while making progress without increasing the weight. Here are a couple of examples.
A superset is two exercises of the same muscle group performed back to back with as little rest as possible in between. For instance, a dumbbell or barbell bench press can be converted into bodyweight press ups. Two different movements that use the same muscle groups, which will fatigue them much faster than if they were done separately.
You could isolate a muscle group before the main movement with your supersets, for example, do some tricep overhead extensions before your bench press to make the bench press target the triceps more.
Including an isometric hold (pause) in an exercise increases muscle tension without moving the surrounding joints. This can help with physical endurance as well as muscle strengthening and stabilization. Holding your muscles under tension for a longer period of time, such as a few seconds at the bottom of a squat, will make the exercise much more difficult.
Sets of drops
Performing the same exercise twice, but with a lighter weight on the second set. For instance, do 8 reps of bicep curls at 10kg, then immediately drop to 8 kg and do another 8 reps.
Similar to a superset, but instead of just two exercises, do three back to back, making sure they all target the same muscle group.
Reduce your rest period
It is very common to become distracted during your rest period, which can last much longer than you realize. The most important thing is to rest for the same amount of time between each set; having a longer rest between one set means your muscles have had more time to recover. Another way to make your workouts more difficult is to limit your rest time, which means less time for muscles to recover, making the sets more difficult. Set a timer, time your first set, then double that time for rest, and make sure you rest for that amount of time for the rest of the sets.
Movements that are eccentric
Eccentric movement refers to moving as slowly and deliberately as possible during the contraction phase of a movement. For example, as you lower the bar to your chest during a bench press or squat. As a result, the muscle is lengthened while contracting, which means it maintains more tension than it could in a static movement.
These are all excellent ways to make progress without gaining weight. Remember that in order to progress in your training, you must gradually increase the difficulty of your sessions. It makes no difference which method you use; as long as you focus on progressive overload, you will make progress. Stay motivated and you’ll hit that new PR in no time!