Seven Fitness Rules That Should Occasionally Be Broken


In our quest for greater strength and muscle, we often succumb to the incorrect mindset that all we need to do is follow a good set of rules and our gains are guaranteed.

And while you should choose a workout routine and stick to it, it’s important to keep in mind that our bodies are all very different, which means that the same workout routine and the same rules might not apply to all of us; some people recover much faster from a workout than others, some are much more flexible and less prone to injury, etc.  Nevertheless, there is a myriad of rules out there that every gym addict has sworn to follow, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t break them every now and then.

Free Weights Are For Building Mass, Not Machines

While it’s true that you get the added extra benefit of working secondary muscle groups that keep your balance with free weights, there are also benefits from machines. Due to the fact that everything is already balanced, you can crank up the weight much more than you’d be able to do on a barbell. More weight means more muscle gain, right? Try switching to machines for one week every month for a few months and see if there are any improvements.

High Reps On Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises, contrary to compound exercises, target a single muscle group and are useful for burning out a muscle and increasing definition. They’re often performed with more reps and less weight than compound exercises since there’s only a single muscle group involved. Try dicing it up by increasing the weight and lowering the number of reps as a means to increase strength and muscle mass.

Isolation Movements After Compound Exercises

The general rule is to first wear your body down with challenging compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift and bench press and then move onto isolation exercises. However, it’s a fact that your muscles get more out of isolation exercises when they’re fresher. Besides, you’ll be able to do more reps. For increased muscle definition, try performing your isolation exercises first.

Use Heavy Weights And Low Repetitions

2Ideally, you should be performing 8-12 reps for the best muscle gains, but research has shown that you can add muscle even when doing more reps. Muscle mass increase can happen all the way up to 15 reps! After that, it’s pretty much endurance training. Try to take a break from your regular routine of 8 to 12 and go up to 15 reps for a few weeks and see what that does for you.

Use Full Range Of Motion

Again, a general rule that you should follow 90 percent of the time. However, sacrificing the range of motion can, in some cases, enable you to perform a higher number of reps, leading to higher intensity and, therefore, greater gains. Once you reach failure, reduce the range of motion and pound out a few more reps. You’ll probably feel the burn like never before and your muscles will thank you later.

Rest Muscle Groups For 48 Hours

It makes sense to let your muscles repair themselves before applying stress to them once again to make them grow more. Well, this is more of a guideline than a general, rigorous rule. Athletes are constantly disproving this by being able to train basically all day, every day with minimal recovery, simply because their bodies have gotten used to the stress.

To be fair, they train less intensely, but as a result, their recovery periods are much, much shorter. Try this method out by hitting a single body part for two days in a row, but reduce the weight by around 30% just in case.

Always Work To Failure

Pushing your body to its limits and beyond has long been considered to be the only way to increase strength and muscle mass. If you aren’t challenging your body enough, you won’t be able to push your limits. However, this isn’t always the way to go, especially if you’re coming back to the gym after an injury.

Sometimes you just need an easier workout. The next time you work a certain muscle group you’ve previously worked to failure, cut back the weight and perform the same number of reps. You’ll still benefit from the workout, even if you aren’t red in the face and panting like a dog.

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