- ‘Learn to walk before you run!’
With this in mind, and keeping my entire ego aside, I had begun lifting weights with a very light load, checking the form and posture of each and every motion, exercise by exercise, moving on from one muscle to another. Gradually, I started growing with my lifts and build, week on week, until I realized I had reached a plateau!
Overcoming the plateau – an Uphill task?
The plateau is a very common phenomenon in the fitness journey. At some point or the other, we all go through this. Our body is smart enough to get adapted to anything, in fact, when pushed beyond its limits, it tries to look for a comfort zone and tends to settle down there. So, if we are smart enough, we can work some changes in the nutrition, play around with calories here and there (increasing or decreasing them), or may be do some other major changes to health and lifestyle too. Another option is to try applying different tactics while training.
That is what I did too. Changing day wise muscle routine, to increasing workout volume by increasing sets and intensity, helped create a difference. From training legs once a week to applying periodization and training them twice or thrice a week – that brought a big improvement in my lifts! However, despite all our efforts, there still comes a point, where we will be stuck again!
The Squats and Deadlifts example
I have always loved doing squats and deadlifts, precisely, front squats and conventional deadlifts. These compound exercises, if done correctly and regularly, can surely help build your overall strength and physique. Well, after reading through a lot of articles on the internet and trying out all known techniques, I realized it’s all about shocking your muscles. Of course, one could say it’s all in the mind and how you push through your limits. Rightly so, but even the strongest mind might find it a challenge at times, and when you are stuck even on your favorite lifts, wouldn’t it be extremely frustrating if you did not know how to cross over that hurdle?
Let me share an insight here by highlighting two of the most well-known compound exercises, namely, front squats and back squats. The major difference between the two variations boils down to the bar position, where, in one of them it’s on the anterior, while the other its posterior of your shoulders. Neither of them is superior to other, and while back squats can be performed with greater resistances, one can achieve the same results even while doing front squats with a comparatively lesser weights.
But then, what if you could perform both of these together, one complementing another?
The Combination Trick
Yes, that’s the turning point! Both these squat variations, done together, help develop your complete legs, targeting your quads, glutes, hams, calves, as well as your back. When you dig deeper, you see several advantages of front squats due to its upright posture, such as – increased depth achieved and glute activation, increased thoracic extension and decreased lumbar and knee stress. That being said, one might not be able to go too heavy in front squats as one can with back squats. The latter relies more on the gluteals and lumbar spine, and is less tedious when performing high rep, deep fatiguing sets.
Similarly, when we compare the two different variations of deadlifts, that is, conventional deadlift and sumo deadlift, neither variation is inherently easier than the other. The sumo deadlift demands significantly more knee flexion and the quads (kind of a high squat), while the conventional deadlift requires a little more leaning of the torso, the hip extension demands being almost the same for both. The sumo deadlifts are going to be more difficult taking off the ground, while the conventional one will be most difficult around the base of the knees.
So, from this personal experience, I learned that trying out both of them alternatively could help activate a larger set of muscle fibers than done alone, thereby improving your strength and build, together with your overall lifts.
The takeaway therefore? Change your workout routines to adapt and get the best out of it. Eventually, the body will respond and move out of its comfort zone. So, keep lifting, keep breaking PRs!
Article Credits – Shanu Shashank