You should constantly be on the look out for ways to change up your exercise routine. By now, you’ve probably realized how much I stress taking on a new routine every 4-6 weeks. If you don’t, I believe you are just wasting your time. Your muscles will no longer respond to the familiar stimulus and you’ll be lifting all those weights for nothing.
With that said, we are going to look at another way to do your lifts that will have your muscles confused and in turn, shock them into growing. We can adjust a variety of variables that can help us change up our workout. We can alter the amount of weight we lift, the number sets we do, the number of reps we do, the exercises we do, and the way we perform the lifts. In this case, we’re going to significantly alter the way we perform our lifts.
You can feel free to mix and match a variety of the above factors when changing up a routine. Maybe you want to go very heavy weight with low reps for 4 weeks, before changing to a whole new set of exercises using lighter weight with high reps and little rest time. The possibilities are numerous.
What we are going to look at today is a way of lifting, called step sets. Step sets, like super sets, drop sets, or any other type of set is a way to stress the muscle in a different way. Step sets are great at keeping a more constant supply of tension on the muscle, thus making it work harder. The concept is relatively easy to understand and doesn’t take much practice to get down. However, do these for just a few sets and you’ll see how difficult they can be.
We’ll explain step sets by using a simple bicep curl as our example. Realistically however, these can be done with virtually any exercise. Begin by curling the weight from starting position to top position (nothing to over think here, just do a regular curl). On the way down, slowly lower the weight about 4 inches and stop. Count to 3. Lower the weight slowly 4 more inches. Count to 3. Lower 4 more inches. Count to 3. Bring the weight back to the start position. This is a step set.
During step sets, we lower the weight at the same pace we would normally lower it. The only difference is we are taking “steps” on the way down. Lower a few inches then completely stop and hold it. You will be able to feel your muscle struggling to maintain the weight during these “steps”. This is exactly what you want. By your last rep on your last set, you will feel as though your muscles are ready to explode. This is a great way to break past any plateau.
You don’t have to do step sets for every single exercise you do. It’s okay to give yourself a break here and there, but when doing step sets during a 4-6 training period, it would be smart to make AT LEAST half of all your sets, step sets. A good figure to go by, is 3/4. Three out of four sets you complete when training with step sets should be done with the abovementioned form. Like all methods of training, try this out and use it for 4-6 weeks then move on to something new. Happy lifting!