My very first strength coach used to say it to me plain and simple: some days you just have to lift heavy. Early in my weight-lifting journey, he taught me the importance of pushing myself in the weight room. And I've been happy with the results.
If you're like me, you have a history of athletic competition, so you have an idea of how to push yourself. Nevertheless, sometimes it can be hard to bring in-game intensity to a set of exercises.
That's where weight-training "challenges" come in handy.
Challenges incite the mental boost you need to increase the intensity in any workout program. Plus, they can help you gauge your progress and break through stubborn plateaus.
Try the first two challenges for two weeks toward the end of your training phases. You've got nothing to be afraid of—except a little lactic acid!
Challenge 1: The 2-Minute Back Squat
The rules are simple: load the bar so it's equal to your body weight and squat through a full range of motion for two minutes straight. You can stand up and breathe between reps as long as you need (don't rack the weight), but try to do as many reps as you can.
I prefer this method to classic "Breathing Squats," which call for a lifter to perform 20 reps with his 10-rep max. Even for strong athletes, the weight required is sometimes too heavy to perform 20 reps.
The 2-Minute Back Squat creates balance and kicks the crap out of your conditioning in the process. Guys over 200 pounds or taller athletes should be completely torched after this bad boy.
Challenge 2: The Overhead Press Burnout
Take half of your body weight and perform strict Standing Overhead Barbell Presses for as many reps as possible. There's no time limit, but make sure to use full ROM,vand don't cheat by overarching your back or using your legs to propel the bar (like a Push Press).
This is one of my favorites, because it's best to do at the end of a workout when you're already tired. If you're a bigger guy or if you have long arms, this will be quite a task.
Tip: If you're a real bad dude, try doing this one after a shoulder workout
Bonus Challenge: Squat After Every Workout
As radical as it may sound, you may not be squatting anywhere near as much as you should be. If this is the case, you may not be making strength gains because of your lack of exposure to heavy weight.
Add heavy Squats to the end of every workout. This follows the Bulgarian-style training method of high weekly volume squatting in conjunction with Olympic lifting. You don't need to perform a full leg workout. Simply perform 3 sets of fewer than three reps before a final max-effort 1-2-rep set.
If you try this approach for one month, I guarantee your general strength will increase by leaps and bounds. Not to mention your squat numbers will be off the charts!
- Learn How to Build Upper Body Strength With the 60 in 60 Push-Up Challenge
- Todd Durkin's World-Class Workouts: Take the TRX 40-40 Challenge
- The 'Half As Good As Herschel Walker' Workout Challenge
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