Bodybuilders may not train like powerlifters (who do a series of one rep and three reps), but it would be wrong to think that they are not strong. High-level bodybuilders do have strength even though it usually occurs in the 6-8 reps and 8-12 reps ranges. Is it useful to add that a strong muscle is a bulky muscle and that training with heavy loads helps to strengthen the tendon insertions as well as the skeleton?
1. Integrating heavy loads
You won’t find many athletes who reach a high level of muscularity by doing long runs, although some incorporate this type of training to accentuate the definition of their physique after reaching their volume goals. Heavy work requires a different mental attitude and approach. Let’s look at this in detail.
To build thick, dense, hard muscles, include “heavy workouts” in your workout. Once or twice a week, choose a muscle group and work it thoroughly with strength exercises. Why not take heavy loads all the time? First of all, it’s not the best way to build muscle, and there is also a risk of increasing your body fat if you don’t adjust your caloric intake from hypertrophy, HIIT, etc., oriented workouts.
You’ve probably heard of bodybuilders who say they always put on weight, but sooner or later an injury will sideline them and stop their workouts. So it’s best to work heavy, not all year round, but in certain cycles where you will prepare your body for it. Some athletes have even tested various training cycles and found that this planning translates, over the long term, into better results than going to the limit of one’s strength in each session.
For example, weightlifting competitors generally work heavily during the off-season and gradually lighten up during the pre-competition period, increasing the volume of work and shortening rest periods in order to lose weight by eliminating adipose tissue and appear skinned.
In addition to this distribution in cycles and the pattern of 1 to 2 weekly sessions of heavy work, another way to proceed is to take heavy loads for the first exercises of your session, then finish with long series. Practiced by a number of weight trainers, this type of training makes it possible to include long and short series in the same session, which has the effect of stimulating both fast- and slow-contracting muscle fibers.
Tips for heavy work
To train heavy, you need to follow certain training principles that will allow you to increase your loads and muscle volume.
The warm-up allows the muscles to contract with more strength and prevent injury (sprain or strain).
Don’t underestimate the importance of a generalized cardio-training warm-up of 5 to 10 minutes, followed by a few stretches and very light runs (don’t go to the point of muscle exhaustion). Then continue with the pyramid technique.
2. Choose compound exercises
These exercises should be of the polyarticular type, such as the bench press, the earth lift, the squat, or the thigh press.
You won’t get the same benefit with monoarticular exercises such as leg extension or peck deck.
3. Master the movements
Make sure you are comfortable doing the exercises and that your technique is well developed. Heavy training is not for beginners.
4. Use a partner
Training with a partner is essential because it frees you to focus mentally exclusively on your effort.
5. Don’t work at maximum
Unless you are an experienced practitioner, take loads that will allow you to do about five good reps with your heavy sets.
6. Rest longer
Recovery is longer between heavy sets (powerlifters take up to five minutes off). Give yourself an extra minute to catch your breath. You’ll find that this extra time will allow you to lift a little more.
7. Don’t be greedy
Don’t expect to add intensive techniques (forced repetitions, negative repetitions, or decreasing series) at the end of each heavy series, hoping also to recover and move on to the next one. Just do one or two forced reps. Then, put the load back in its place.
8. Do not neglect recovery factors
Having rest and recovery time is key when training hard. Keep in mind that while training stimulates muscle development, the actual hypertrophy and adaptation occur during the recovery period following exercise.