Getting stronger usually links straight to heavy weights low reps, which is correct! But only one avenue to do so, so how do you gain strength without using heavy weights?
Know your limitations
Heavy weights have many many benefits, however, some people have injuries which stop them pushing heavy, or most definitely increases the risk of them returning. Should they be lifting heavy? Hell no! Many gym goers train by themselves, it's not always possible to have a spotter, so what happens on your last set of heavy bench press? You risk killing yourself that's what. Understanding what things you can and can't do will help you determine when to use heavy weights and alter its key when not to use them too. Everyone's different, some people are naturally strong and have no problem lifting heavy, that's not the case for everyone so is it impossible to build strength? Of course not.
Understand training systems
This is where training systems will come in handy, there are many to be listed, for this article I will focus on just one - Eccentric Training otherwise known as Negative Training
My own definition of this training system - Eccentric training is a training system which focuses on the lowering phase of an exercise, working to a tempo to slow down the movement to make each rep and set longer. This is used to increase time under tension on the muscles being worked, therefore increasing how hard to muscle works in total sets.
So in basic terms, you would use less weight than usual, then in any exercise, on the lowering section of the movement, you will pick a tempo, for example - 3:1:1 this will mean, on a bench press, lower the weight down to your chest for 3 seconds, hold at the bottom for 1 second then push back up for 1 second also. This keeps each rep consistent and cuts out any cheating! This loads the muscles and works the, hard as they're holding onto the weight for a longer period of time than usual, that is what time under tension is. This also reduces how much strain your joints are under as they weight will be lighter, but still gives the muscles a great deal to work with! It's a great way to build strength and stimulate muscle growth.
Trial and error
Try it out! You can read about all this stuff all day long, but you won't know unless you get yourself in the gym and test it out! You will need to test different tempos, speeds, weights and exercises to see what feels good, what's too hard or too easy to truly find out if this way of training is going to positively impact your workouts! If you do have an injury or reason to not lift heavy weights, I guarantee this will be perfect for you and will definitely increase strength and improve your muscle growth. Don't think about what other people do, tailor your training to your body and what you need to move forward!
So how do you know if it's working? There's a few simple methods...
1. How does it feel? - simple, when you use eccentric training, how does it feel? A good burn or pump or even a ache the next day?
2. Track your weights - use notes on your phone or a notepad if you're old school, track what you lift and see if it's increasing after using the training system.
3. Can you see a difference? - obvious, can you look in the mirror and see a difference? If so the boom! Looks like it's working.
Follow these 3 methods of recording results to determine just how effective lowering your weights, slowing the movement down and focusing on the muscle is for you.
Lower your weights, use a rep range between 6-10, slow down the lowering phase, keep it consistent. You'll reduce pressure on the joints, focus more on the muscle, still be increasing your strength and work very hard too. Give this a go and see how you get on!
Check out my new 2017 training guides to get some workout ideas to help you ready for summer! www.leanwithluke.co.uk/training-guides
All articles are written by Luke Teuma, Founder of Lean With Luke.