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It’s been said that the best workout is the one you’re not doing, so give yourself permission to try a new approach. More specifically, what you want to do is change your workout when you start reaching a point of diminishing returns. This change, however, doesn’t have to be a matter of guesswork—plan ahead for those gains!
First, outline a long-term plan of set-rep protocols. To become strong with minimal increases in muscle size, you need to focus on workouts of 1–4 reps. To develop strength with significantly more muscle mass, use 5–8 reps; for pure muscle mass, use 8–15 reps; for strength endurance, 15–30 reps.
Here is an example of a two-month cycle (to perform once or twice a year) that focuses more on strength while still having a positive effect on muscle growth (see Chart B).
Be aware that the speed at which you perform your repetitions will infuence the training effect. In the two training cycles above, lower the weight at a rate that is approximately two to three times as long as it takes to lift it.
Another useful idea is to vary the exercises with each training phase; this ensures continual progress and helps to avoid overuse injuries. Rather than performing barbell bench presses for all eight weeks of an eight-week training cycle, for the first two weeks you could perform dumbbell bench presses, followed by two weeks of dumbbell incline bench presses, followed by two weeks of barbell incline presses, and finishing of with two weeks of conventional bench presses.
With so many variables to consider, designing a long-term plan for your workout requires a fair amount of time. It’s worth it! Just start by using this general outline of sets and reps, and in the end you’ll achieve your goals faster. – FLEX