Harmonize Fitness
Harmonize Fitness

workout routine


Advanced training techniques: Failure

22 Make training as simple as possible (2)

This technique is mostly over used by so many people in the attempt to gain more muscle and get “the pump”.

Training to failure means that you can´t hit another rep, your muscles are completely depleted and don´t have enough energy to lift the weight for one more rep. Most fitness experts and guys training in the gym take every set to failure which I consider to be taking it to the limit.

You do not need to take every set to failure and not all rep ranges are suited for this technique, if your goal is strength you should not be using failure, if your goal is hypertrophy then it´s an awesome tool to get more gains but you don´t need to overdo it.

Failure training is commonly used on 12 to 15 reps, when you are using this rep ranges both muscle fibers are used, you start using slow twitch muscle fibers and when you hit failure you´ll be using the fast twitch muscle fibers to be able to do 2 or 3 more reps until you can´t do one more rep. When this happens your central nervous system gets a lot of work and it takes more time for it to recover, if you over do this technique and your central nervous system is not able to recover you´ll end up over training.

There are people that go beyond failure and do some dropsets to push even harder, this is not necessary if you are training with the right  intensity and lifting on your goal rep range. Not all exercises are recommended for failure training, if you have a training partner he/she can help you hit failure in almost any exercise but if you´re training alone you can hurt yourself trying to get all exercises to failure this is why some people use dropsets.

If you´ve been training intense it may not be necessary to use this technique but if you want to try it I recommend using it only on one exercise per muscle group, you can use it with isolation movements where you are lifting lighter weights.

The goal you are working for will also determine if you need to hit failure or not, for low reps on a myofibrillar hypertrophy and strength in the 5 to 8 reps it´s not recommended to hit failure, for sarcoplasmic hypertrophy when you´re working for the pump around 12 to 15 reps it´s you can go to failure.

People do this to get more results as faster as possible but it takes time to build muscle and overdoing it can cause more harm than good to your body, techniques like progressive overload, increasing volume and frequency works amazing, the best option is to keep playing with volume and frequency while making sure that you are progressively overloading the muscles and add failure to some exercises or take only one set to failure.

What I recommend is that once you have your goal clear use all the techniques to add variation to your workouts, don´t overdo it trying to use all of them at high intensity because you´ll end up over training and you can get injured.

Some people like to hit failure with every set and every exercise, I don´t think this is necessary, you can hit failure on your last set for each exercise and get results. This also depends of the frequency and volume, high frequency, high volume and going to failure on every set of every exercise may be too much, the workout programs need to be balanced in frequency, volume and training techniques to give the muscles the right stimulus to grow.

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Advanced training techniques: Rest pause

27 Rest pause

Another advanced technique that can take your workouts to another level with great results. Knowing which techniques you can use to avoid hitting plateaus and to add variation to your workouts when you´ve been training for some years is always beneficial.

Rest pause is another technique to get more of your workouts, to get the pump you´re looking for and to make sure you get every single rep possible done. In this technique you start your set of around 12 to 15 reps, you go to failure and rest 10 to 15 seconds and immediately you do some more reps, as the name say, you´re doing a pause after you hit failure, take a breath or a little rest and hit the weight again, this next time you go to failure again, you won´t be able to hit 12 reps or the rep range you´re working and it´s not the goal, what you want is to do 4 or 5 more reps, which at the end of your workout those reps means more work done and more gains.

This technique is mostly used with failure training in a 10 to 15 rep range, it´s hard and not recommended to use it for less reps when you´re working on strength or power cause it can lead to injuries.

Being an advanced technique, guys starting out training don´t need to use it but as you get more trained this technique along with failure are the best option to incorporate in your workout programs. Actually failure training and rest pause can be considered intermediate techniques that work incredible.

You don´t need to use this technique on every exercise on every set, it´s not necessary to overload the muscle with so much volume that is hard to recover from. You can use it in on your last exercise for each muscle group. The goal is to add more work and add some of this techniques to keep your body guessing.

I like to call all this advanced or intermediate techniques “shocking techniques”, the best way to get advantage from them is to use one at a time and keep changing them, you don´t need to use them on all of your workouts, you can design a training program that don´t use any of them for the first 3 to 4 weeks and on the next two weeks use one of this techniques.

With all this techniques you may be asking which one is better? They´re all great, you don´t need to use them all, you may like one of them or you may feel more comfortable with one or two of them, use the ones that you like, you can try them all and see which ones gives you better results, which one you like doing or which one you can do alone, for some of this techniques you may need a partner to help you with the weight in some exercises or you don´t want to do a set and then stand up to lower the weight and continue with the sets like in drop sets.

I consider it´s better to have all the information we need and be able to create and design our own programs, the one that works best for each of us and that´s based on what we love and what works, that´s my goal, to give you all the information you need, to share with you the best tools you can use so that you can design your own workouts according to your goals.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.



What is adaptation and how to avoid it?


Every time you workout you put your body and muscles into some stress, others call this stress “stimulus”. If this stimulus is enough your body will change, every time you train you give your body enough reasons to get bigger, stronger, faster or whatever your goal is. You can say that the results you get are your reward from your training program.

Adaptation can be consider a cycle which goes like this, every time you workout you put certain amount of stress on your body and muscles then if you train with the proper intensity to give your body and muscles the proper amount of stress or stimulus your body reacts and find ways to adapt to that stimulus, this way to adapt from your body is by change, every time you see some results, you see your body changing physically getting lean, gaining more muscle or losing fat is the result of your body adaptation to the stimulus you put.

Every time you do something different, you change something on your workout, you add variation or use some techniques you´ll get results, those results are from your body adapting to the new techniques or training methods.

When you train you need to make sure that the intensity is right, when you´re working out you are breaking down muscle fibers, once you´re done with your workout your muscles start to recover and grow, to get bigger and stronger, they need to prepare for the next workout this is why I consider meal timing after your workout so important, your body needs nutrients to start recovery.

If you stop making gains or you hit a plateau there may be two possible reasons, the first is if you do the same workout over and over again your body is already adapted so there´s not enough reason to change, the stress in your body is not enough to grow or to get stronger and the second is lack of recovery which can come from a bad nutrition program or you´re training so hard with high volume and high frequency and your body is not able to recover.

To keep making gains consistently you need to be in a constant state of adaptation, you do this by adding variation in your workout program, you can manipulate all training variables in many different ways like increasing volume and lowering frequency or increasing frequency lowering volume, changing exercises, changing rep ranges, using advanced training technique some weeks, using periodization are all ways to add variety to your workouts and keep the adaptation cycle going.

Following a proper nutrition program is key, meal timing is important, there´s an eating window that I consider to be highly important which is right after your workout, around 30 to 45 minutes after you finished training. During your training session you break down muscle so the faster you give nutrients to your body the faster it can begin to recover, high quality protein, carbohydrates and fats are important it´s not the same to fuel your body with healthy, natural foods than with junk. Your body needs nutrients too function properly and to recover.

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Training: Progressive overload


Fitness experts, gurus and trainers always do everything harder than it really is, it´s hard to find someone talking about progressive overload and if you´re looking to gain muscle mass this is the technique that will give you results. Most trainers follow the same routine for a very long period of time and when they get bored they do some changes. Mostly they go to the gym 5 or 6 days a week for an hour or more and do the same day split, with the same weight, the same sets and reps that´s why they always look the same.

It´s not only boring but also discouraging to train and don´t see any change in your body for me it´s a waste of time. If you want to improve the way you look and you´re not making progress you are not challenging yourself enough. Muscles grow bigger and stronger in response to training stimulus, you need to continue making greater demands, to progressively overload the muscles by forcing them to do more than they´re accustomed to if you don´t do it there´s no reason for them to grow. Your body is not going to change unless it is forced to, this is why you cannot get comfortable in the gym, once you get to a comfort zone if you stay there you´ll plateau.

Progressive overload means increasing demands on the muscles continually to make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. You can use progressive overload not only for resistance training it´s also a great strategy to use for cardio training. The most common way to use this technique is by adding weight, every time you train the muscle you must be able to lift heavier, this is how the few trainers that know this technique use it but there are some other options for you to apply it.

The first and easiest option to increase overload is increase resistance, this is the most obvious way to increase the demand on the muscle, you simply add more weight to the one you are lifting, if you are lifting 60 pounds you can add 3 or 5 pounds more, this makes the exercise harder and you need to consider that when you increase the weight your reps are going to reduce for a period of time, then soon enough you´ll be able to do the same reps you were doing before you add weight but now with the added weight, this means you get stronger and you´re ready to add some more weight.

The next option is to increase reps sometimes it may be hard to increase weight specially if you workout at home then in this case adding reps is one of the options. If you lift 60 pounds for 6 reps then your next workout lift the same weight for 8 reps, and the next workout lift the same weight for 10 reps. As I mentioned before the best reps for hypertrophy is between 6 – 12 reps so when you get to the 12 reps you may consider another option to increase overload. Once you get to 12 reps don´t keep adding more and more reps indefinitely because you´ll be training for endurance and not muscle size.

Next option is to increase the volume which as I mentioned before is the number of sets, on the option before you added more reps so here you´ll be increasing the number of sets. If you are doing 3 sets of the exercise then do 4 sets, by doing 1 more set you increase the amount of work.

Another option is increasing time frequency, by training the same muscle 2 times a week you increase the overload you are making your muscle work harder.

The last option for progressive overload is to decrease rest time between sets, with resistance training the workouts are structured in sets and rests intervals, depending on the amount of weight you are lifting this rest intervals may be from 90 sec. to 3 min. instead of resting 90 sec between sets  rest 60 sec. or 45 sec. so you´ll be doing the same amount of work in less time and this requires your body to become more efficient.

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What you need to know about rep ranges

10 Rep ranges

For the last months and years I´ve seen a lot of guys and girls interested in knowing which is the best rep range they need to focus on, as many other things in training there is not a right or wrong answer and I consider all of them to be great options.

It all starts with your goal, you can use resistance training for all goals just be changing the rep range you use, it´s not the same to train for power than to train for endurance the rep ranges are as follow:

1 -4 for power

5 – 8 for strength

8 – 12 for hypertrophy

15 – < for endurance

With this you know in which rep range to work according to your goal, for muscle gain you can use strength and hypertrophy on the strength rep range you´ll be building dense muscle also called myofibrillar hypertrophy which is the one that last and with hypertrophy rep range also called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy you are able to gain size faster but it doesn´t last, if you take some time off the gym you start losing that size. This two rep ranges are the ones you can focus on more to build an aesthetic physique.

For the power and strength rep ranges you need to use compound movements which are the ones where you can lift more weight, for hypertrophy and endurance you can use compound and isolation. The endurance rep range can help you burn fat and sometimes gain some muscle, you can use all types of exercises, compound, isolation and bodyweight.

If your goal is to gain muscle mass then the best option is to focus on building dense muscle mass by focusing on the strength rep range around 5 to 7 reps using compound and bodyweight exercises and add some isolation exercises for weaker muscles using the hypertrophy rep range around 8 to 12 reps.

Getting stronger on the first 3 rep ranges specially around 5 to 12 reps by using a tool called periodization is an awesome strategy that keeps you getting stronger and gaining muscle mass, if you get stronger on the power and strength rep ranges you are able to lift more weight on the hypertrophy rep, gaining muscle is about getting stronger.

When you work on power and strength the central nervous system gets stressed a lot and it takes more time to recover so you need to consider volume and frequency when training on this 2 rep ranges, with hypertrophy and endurance the central nervous system doesn´t get the same amount of stress.

Weight loss and gaining muscle are the most common goals so strength and hypertrophy are the most used rep ranges but once you achieved your goal taking some time and maintaining it gives you the opportunity to work on the other 2 rep ranges. When you train for power you need to be really conscious and focused on form to avoid injuries, I personally don´t like to work below 5 reps, I mostly go from 5 to 7 and 8 to 12 focusing on building dense muscle with bodyweight and compound movements and sometimes I add some isolation exercises. Sometimes I use the endurance rep range with bodyweight exercises specially when I want to lose fat and I could go for 50 reps in some exercises.

All rep ranges have their space on training and they´re all great options for different goals, using all of them using periodization keeps your body guessing and making your workouts fun and challenging.

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Training variables to achieve your fitness goals

09 Training variables

In the last posts we´ve been talking about bodyweight, compound and isolation exercises and I´ve mentioned some variables you´ll need to adjust on your workouts according to your goals so it´s time to start looking to those variables.

In the future posts you´ll learn how to put together the 3 types of exercises to create workout programs according to your goals that give you the best results.

I´ve mentioned in other posts and social media that training can be simple but it can also get very complex and the reason is simple if your goal is just to get in shape and sustain it you only need to know and understand the basics but if you want to learn more and be able to create your own workouts for different goals then you need to know about types of exercises, training variables, advance training techniques, types of hypertrophy and this is when things get more complicated.

I´ve you´ve been following me for a while you know that I like to keep things simple and there´s no exception, we´re going to start looking at more complex information but I´ll keep it as simple as possible so that you can understand it and use it. Even when it´s a lot of information you´ll see that it´s not that complicated and you don´t need to learn it all in one day, you can come back as much as you want to re-read the posts.

The training variables I´ve been referring are: rep ranges, frequency, volume, periodization, progressive overload, intensity, variation and recovery. I´ll write a post for each variable so that we can go deeper.

Each variable is highly important and you need to consider each when creating any workout program according to your goals. It´s not the same to gain lean muscle than to lose fat or just maintain your weight, the basics for all goals can be the same but you need to adjust each variable which are the ones that are going to make your workouts look different.

All fitness programs use all or some of this variables, the more variables you use the more complex things can get until you understand all of them and get some experience but the most effective your workouts will be.

Have you ever asked yourself why can´t I do the same workout every day? Or why some programs change routines every week while others change them every month? why in some programs we have more rest days than in others? why some programs last 1 month while others last 3 months? The answers to all this questions is that it depend of the goal and from there the fitness trainers who create the programs adjust the variables needed to give you some results.

In most cases you won´t see fitness trainers, fitness experts or gurus in the gym talking about all this variables, some of them may use  them without knowing, others may know the basics but none of them will explain you the reason why they took one variable and manipulate it a certain way.

With the next posts you´ll be able to know how to adjust each variable, in what rep range do you need to work for better results, how much volume and frequency is needed, how to use periodization in a way that is simple for you to apply it, how to use progressive overload if you´re working at home with limited equipment, how to measure results and much more.

If you are new to training you may be overwhelmed with all the information to come but it may be all you need, if you are more advanced or want to take your training to a higher level you may want to learn about advance techniques and how to use which we´re going to see after we finish training variables.

The whole idea is to give you all the information you need so that you can create your own workout programs and achieve any fitness goal.

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.