A common goal among male exercisers is to increase muscle mass and strength. For many men, achieving this goal can be a struggle. IDEA author Lance Breger, MS, head private trainer at MINT Fitness & Spa in Washington, DC, suggests some out-of-the-box techniques to help clients overcome strength and hypertrophy plateaus.
1. Imagery/Visualization Techniques. Visualization has been used by sports psychologists and coaches for decades. During a pre-exercise routine, have clients visualize themselves completing an extra repetition; lifting heavier weights; and developing greater muscle mass.
2. Plenty of Sleep. Urge clients to make a habit of getting a good night’s rest. Vital muscle repair takes place when the body is asleep.
3. Power-Strength Supersets. Get out of the 8- to 12-repetition zone with a power and strength superset. Start clients with a lift that leads to exhaustion within 1–5 repetitions. Follow this immediately with 8–12 repetitions of an exercise for the same muscle group. This technique can help recruit the greatest number of muscle fibers.
4. Parasympathetic Activities. Suggest a gentle yoga, tai chi or meditation practice to initiate a parasympathetic phase and release growth-and-repair hormones.
5. Nutrient Timing. Apart from poor sleep hygiene, eating habits can pose the biggest barrier to muscle growth. Advise clients to eat as soon as they wake up; 20–30 minutes before a workout; within 1 hour postworkout; and before bed.
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