9 Training Techniques To Shock Your Muscles and Transform Your Physique

A goal can be thought of as a destination. Where do you want to go? When you get in your car, you almost always have a distinct destination in mind, as well as a time you want to arrive there.

9 Training Techniques To Shock Your Muscles and Transform Your Physique
9 Training Techniques To Shock Your Muscles and Transform Your Physique Admin: Gamze Ç.

You need to be at work by 9, at the gym by 6, get to Costco before it closes at 8, and so on. If instead you turn the ignition and just start driving with no particular place in mind or any time you need to be there by, you’re just going to waste a lot of time and gasoline before you wind up home— exactly where you started from. Bodybuilding isn’t so different. Unless you are constantly working toward a specific goal or goals, you’re spinning your wheels. Any chances of improving your physique are remote, though you may very well be able to maintain what you’ve built thus far. If that’s fine with you, cool. But I am willing to bet that for most of you, you’re not entirely satisfied with your physique and you know you haven’t reached your full potential yet. I’m 47 freaking years old with 33 years of training down, and I’m still not satisfied! The keys to success in any endeavor are to set a goal you are passionate about, give yourself a deadline to achieve it by, develop a game plan to reach that goal and then follow through. Here are nine goals that can all help you make significant improvements to your physique.
1. Set a Bodyweight Goal
Ask any guy what his goals are for the off-season, and most of the time you will get the vague response, “get bigger.” The problem here is the vague nature of the goal. How much bigger? The amount needs to be quantified, and the simplest way to do that is to put it in terms of a specific bodyweight. Let’s say you are 220 pounds. You want to gain mostly lean muscle tissue, so unless you’re a raw novice, forget about outrageous amounts like 20 or 30 pounds. Assuming you have been training for at least a few years, a total weight gain of 10 pounds is far more realistic, and a time frame of 12 weeks to do it is reasonable. That equates to a gain of a little less than a pound a week, and we are going to be real here and further assume that about two-thirds of the weight gain will be in the form of muscle, and the remainder will be fat. Now we’re looking at gaining a little less than half a pound of muscle per week. You can do that! Adjust your training, and more importantly, your diet, accordingly. Check your weight every week. If it isn’t slowly creeping upward toward 230, train harder and up your calories! Six or seven pounds of brand-new muscle is a very significant accomplishment for an experienced trainer.
2. Set a Body Fat Goal
Not all of us have a hard time putting on size and weight. There are also those among you who do those things without extraordinary effort. You have probably been big and bulky since your earliest lifting days. But you may also have been “husky,” chubby or even outright fat most of your life, too. You have an appreciable amount of muscle packed on your frame, yet you’ve never had a good look at it. It’s always been obscured by a layer of adipose tissue. Now is the time to get your body fat tested, and decide how much of that you want to lose, as well as a deadline to lose it by. This deadline might coincide with something meaningful to you, like a vacation, a high school reunion or even the first day of summer. How much leaner you want to get is up to you. Let’s say you find you are 35 percent body fat. How good do you want to look? By the time you get to 15 percent, the changes in your appearance will be dramatic. Your face will be more sculpted, and the true shape of your muscles will finally start to show through. Should you decide to get down to 10 percent, you will look pretty damn great. You’ll be able to see your abs, maybe for the first time! As with weight gain, fat loss should conform to a realistic timeline. Going from 35 to 10 percent body fat would take most men a good six months, assuming you do it the right way rather than embark on a starvation diet along with three hours of cardio a day. And again as with a weight gain goal, the best course of action would be to get your body fat tested at regular intervals to ensure you are headed in the right direction.
3. Improve a Body Part
Here’s one that really hits home for just about all of us. I know you have at least one muscle group that you’re not satisfied with. It may lag behind the rest of your physique, or it could truly suck. What are you doing about it? Just “training it harder” is again too vague a plan to produce tangible results. Instead, you need to set aside a given block of time with a deadline at the end. During this time, which could be eight, 10, 12 or 16 weeks, you must prioritize that body part. Hit it twice a week with two different types of workouts, such as heavier for straight sets the first time, and more drop sets, higher reps and supersets at the second weekly session. For legs, you could do a quadriceps-dominant workout one day, and a second workout focusing more on hamstrings. Introduce new exercises and techniques. The bottom line is that during the specialization phase, you need to hit that body part with something different than what you’ve been doing. And even if you thought you were training that area hard before, you’ll find that this extra level of attention and the pressure of days ticking down toward a deadline will take your workouts up a few notches.
4. Get Stronger on a Key Lift or Lifts
Odds are that if you have been training for a number of years, your lifts have been stuck at the same numbers for a very long time. Are you OK with that? My guess is that you’ve accepted it, but you’re not thrilled with the longstanding plateau. Now is the time to decide which one or two lifts you want to get stronger on. Before you dismiss this whole goal as being impossible, ask yourself this: How much attention, in terms of time, did you ever apply toward improving this lift? I ask because as bodybuilders, many of us are locked into the paradigm of training each body part once a week. Thus, you have probably only been bench-pressing once a week, or squatting once a week. No athletes in the pure strength sports like powerlifting or Olympic lifting train their lifts that infrequently. Olympic lifters typically work on their lifts every day— sometimes two or three times a day! If you set aside a block of time and work that lift hard, three times a week for 10-12 weeks, you can bet you will get stronger on it, even if you’ve been stuck at the same weight for five to 10 years. And if you can manage to increase your max squat from 405 to 455 in those weeks, for example, that strength will carry over to being able to handle heavier weights for reps once your strength cycle is over. Result? Bigger legs!
5. Increase a Measurement
Speaking of bigger, when we talk about improving a body part such as the arms or legs, one very clear marker of said improvement (assuming gains are not all in the form of body fat) is to increase its measurement. When your goal becomes as distinct as taking your 18.5-inch arms and turning them into legit 19-inch guns, your goal couldn’t be any more explicit. It’s also very simple to gauge your progress toward that goal on a weekly process, just by using a tape measure. Just be sure you always measure in the same place around the muscle in question, and under the same conditions. Your best bet for an accurate reading is flexed but “cold,” meaning no pump at all. Or, you could also choose to only use pumped measurements as your guide. Some will argue with you about this, as they feel there are “rules” that must be adhered to, but this is your body and your goal. Do whatever you prefer.
6. Decrease a Measurement
Being bodybuilders, we usually have no interest in reducing the size of our arms, legs, chest or calves. But when it comes to our waists, how many of us would love to see a smaller number? Can I see a show of hands? Don’t worry … my hand is up there, too. Though it’s closely related to our body fat percentage, which we already touched on, there is also something very concrete and satisfying about being able to fit into a pants size that you haven’t been able to in a while. I would bet most of you out there have different jeans you wear when you’re lean as opposed to jeans you rock in the off-season. Am I right? If you spend most of the year in 34s or 36s, set a goal to be able to fit into your 32s or 34s. You know that by the time you can slide into those comfortably, the rest of you is looking splendid, too.
7. Make a Trip Out to the Arnold or the Olympia
This might seem like an odd goal for those of you who have never been to one of the two big shows in our sport. Those of you who have, can attest to the fact that you will never see so many men and women in phenomenal shape, muscular and lean, anywhere else in the world in one place. I’m not talking about the competitors; I’m referring to the meatheads and fit chicks strolling around the expo. Obviously, anyone who has the money to enter the expo is welcome inside, but you don’t want to be the fat guy or the skinny guy when you’re in a cavernous convention space packed to the rafters with in-shape people. Plenty of guys plan a “mini-cut” leading up to the Arnold or the Olympia, simply to look good there. If it sounds vain or silly, you can’t deny one fact. Targeting one of those two shows is an excellent and highly effective way to set a goal and achieve it, for the many out there who will never compete or otherwise have any valid reason to ratchet up their training intensity and clean eating.
8. Enter a Powerlifting Meet
You certainly can set a personal goal of improving a lift or two, as we said before— but if you seriously want to make sure you get stronger, register to compete in a powerlifting meet! The pressure is on when you know you will be up on that lifting platform trying to outlift every other man in your weight class. Win or lose, you will add new mass to your frame by increasing your strength in the bench press, deadlift and squat. Ronnie Coleman and Flex Lewis are just two of many great bodybuilders who built appreciable foundations of dense, thick muscle mass before transitioning over to bodybuilding.

9. Target a Bodybuilding Contest to Enter
I had to save this one for last for two reasons. One, I know many of you have absolutely zero interest in ever getting up onstage in little trunks and flexing in front of an audience. And two, it’s easily the most challenging goal on this list. As a competitor since 1989, I can tell you that you really should do it at least once as a bodybuilder. You will never be so motivated on a daily basis to train your hardest and eat as clean as possible, because you know on that one day coming up on the calendar, your body is going to be out there under bright lights for all to see— and it will be judged against others. Competitive bodybuilders tend to improve at a steadier rate and ultimately come closer to their full potential than recreational bodybuilders for that very reason. Every workout, every cardio session, every meal and even every hour of sleep serves a purpose when you’re in prep. You are driven as you’ve never been before. Win or lose, you will look the best you ever have— and that’s always a win.
There you have it, nine solid goals to pick and choose from. Choose one at a time, and make sure it’s one you are excited about accomplishing. Give it a deadline, and devise your plan to achieve it within that span of time. Adjust your plan as needed along the way to make sure your progress is steady and you are always moving toward the finish line. When things get tough, as they always will in real life in the real world of jobs, family, relationships and school, keep your goal in mind. Remember why it is you want to achieve it, and how good it will feel once you do. Don’t get discouraged and give up like most people do! Keep going until you’ve accomplished it. Then, be sure to savor it for a while— until it’s time to set a new goal and continue your path of never-ending improvement! 
Ron Harris got his start in the bodybuilding industry during the eight years he worked in Los Angeles as Associate Producer for ESPN’s “American Muscle Magazine” show in the 1990s. Since 1992 he has published nearly 5,000 articles in bodybuilding and fitness magazines, making him the most prolific bodybuilding writer ever. Ron has been training since the age of 14 and competing as a bodybuilder since 1989, and maintains the popular website www.ronharrismuscle.com, most notable for its blog “The Daily Pump.” He lives with his wife and two children in the Boston area.

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