We all want PRs everyday. Sometimes they're just a coaching cue away. Here are 5 things you can do to push your progress forward if you're not already using them.
1. Have a Cup of Coffee (sometimes)
Caffeine is a great stimulant and studies have shown that ingesting caffeine can improve muscle recruitment by speeding up your central nervous system. Drink too much and you may not find it nearly as effective, though. It seems the optimal amount for most people is between 1-3 cups per day. Here is a great post from Brian St. Pierre that discusses many more benefits.
2. Press From the Top Down
No one holds the bench press in the bottom position to rest so why do it for military press? Starting each movement with an eccentric action will facilitate better muscle recruitment via stretch reflex. So next time you press, start each rep with the weight overhead. Here's more information about improving the overhead press by starting from the top.
3. Hold Your Breath
Holding your breath can help you create more tension in your trunk and make your midsection stiffer when performing heavy lifts. This is called the vasalva maneuver. To do it correctly you need to breathe between repetitions of an exercise, but before the start of each repetition you will take breath and squeeze down through your abs and belly as if bracing to be punched. Then forcefully blow the air out through pursed lips through concentric part of the movement. If you have heart or blood pressure issues this may not be your best option, as it cause a dramatic increase in blood pressure while performing it.
4. Squeeze Tight (everything)
Squeezing the bar tighter will help you recruit more muscle in just about any exercise, be it in a squat or a press. Don't just hold the barbell when you're lifting. Crush it! In addition to that, flex every muscle from the ground up to brace for all your movements. The added stability let’s you move bigger weights.
5. Go to Sleep
You get stronger when you recover. If you do not make time to sleep recover your progress will quickly hit a wall. Sleep matters big time if you expect to continue increasing your training volume or putting more weight on the bar. While this may not be instantaneous, it can work overnight. (Sleep pun intended!) Make sure you are putting effort into your recovery. Create a nighttime routine to help you reduce late night screen time and get to bed a little earlier. It'll pay off in your workouts and in your results.
Got a tip you'd like to share? Post them in the comments or hit us up on the Strong Made Simple Facebook Page.