Question: I was a collegiate athlete and sustained injuries during that time which now inhibit my ability to train heavy. I train three days a week alternating upper and lower body. I do cardio on the treadmill four times a week. With that I have lost weight but would like to drop another fifteen pounds. Should I change my training routine and if so to what?
Answer: If you have found a way to train without aggravating your injuries don’t abandon what you’re doing to try a completely new approach with the intention of breaking through a plateau. Modify what you’re doing with variations in reps.
Currently you’re following the pattern from Body for Life, which is about 60 reps per exercise and you do one or two exercises for each body part. The training pattern is alternating upper body and lower body workouts on a three day cycle so you hit upper twice a week one week and legs twice the following week.
With your knees you should hit upper body twice a week every week and train legs only once a week.
To strengthen and further protect your knees begin with hamstring exercises, move to leg press and patiently work through multiple sets with long warm ups slowly adding weight. Finish your leg training with another hamstring exercise.
For your upper body use the routine you have with the exercises you’ve already determined are safe for you.
- One workout use the standard rep pattern you’ve been using.
- The following upper body training day go to four sets per exercise and do 15 reps for each set. It’s still giving you 60 reps but with a different intensity and your muscles will respond to the change.
- The third upper body workout go back to your standard system.
- The fourth upper body workout use a slow motion rep system. It’s safe for your joints and loads the muscles. For most people the typical rep speed is about a two count negative, half a second pause and one to two count contraction. Switch to a three to five second negative, a full one second pause and finish with a two to three second contraction. That increases the time the muscle is under duress from a typical 20-30 second set of ten to 90-100 seconds for a set of ten reps. You will need to decrease the weight to 60-70 percent of your normal training weight or you probably won’t complete the set of ten.
- The following two workouts, return to your standard routine.
Use the variations in reps speed and intensity to challenge your muscles without risking injury using a different routine. You’re in your forties and know what is working for you. Yes, make modifications to what you know works for you. Try new exercises from time to time but don’t abandon your routine entirely since you’ve already discovered that it does work for you. These variations will keep challenging you and get you safely past your plateau.
God bless and keep training,