Workout Tips

Make Small Tweaks for Bigger Muscle Gains

Destroy plateaus by making these small tweaks to your favorite lifts.

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Make Small Tweaks for Bigger Muscle Gains

It’s amazing how the smallest changes can bust a plateau. Adjust your stance or grip, set the bench to an incline instead of flat, or change implements from a barbell to a dumbbell, and you’ve suddenly expanded your exercise options widely with only the slightest effort. If your gym is well equipped, there may be an infinite number of ways to expand your exercise repertoire that you haven’t taken advantage of yet. If it isn’t, you just have to get creative. The following are some variables you can change.

GRIP AND STANCE

Your body adapts to habit. Widen your grip on barbell curls to target the inner head of your biceps. Narrow your stance on the deadlift to improve leverage, letting you get closer to the bar without losing the arch in your lower back.

BARS

A conventional barbell is the ultimate strength tool, but it does force your wrists into an unnatural position on presses and curls. Try a Swiss bar or fat bar. A Swiss bar offers neutral-grip handles at multiple widths. A fat bar forces your grip to work overtime in every exercise.

BANDS

On exercises like the lateral raise and overhead triceps extensions, you lose tension on the muscles in the bottom and top positions. Using a band creates constant resistance so your muscles have to fight along the entire range of motion.

CHANGE IT UP

See the table below for more ideas on how you can make small changes that net big results.

CONVENTIONAL EXERCISE CHANGE THE ANGLE CHANGE THE GRIP
Bench Press Wide-grip Bench Press Fat-bar Bench Press
Deadlift Sumo Deadlift Trap-bar Deadlift
Dumbbell Overhead Press Arnold Press Swiss Bar Overhead Press
Lying Triceps Extension Narrow-grip Triceps Extension Neutral-grip Dumbbell Triceps Extension
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