So I’ve just come back from a pressing session, and my delts are in pieces. Delts are normally a muscle I don’t feel much, or get much of a pump in. Today was different. The pump was almost painful, despite training fasted.
What did I change? I followed Jonny’s suggestion:
For compound movements, perform a very light isolation movement for the target muscle group between sets.
Between each set of overhead press, I did a few lateral raises between 4kg and 8kg. By pumping the muscle full of blood without fatiguing it, you become acutely aware of its contribution to the compound movement, and can feel a deep contraction as opposed to just moving the weight.
For hypertrophy purposes, this is the key to training a muscle group effectively, and will garner you much greater benefits than gaining strength for strength’s sake. This is Ben’s approach as a purist bodybuilder, who actively doesn’t aim to get stronger in a movement unless serves a purpose of stimulating the target muscle group more effectively.
Does that mean you shouldn’t train heavy?
This is not to say that gaining strength isn’t important, and following the Propane Protocol will achieve the best of both worlds, especially if you implement this tip. But the point here is that this attitude of ‘go heavy or go home’ often spouted online is not always helpful for hypertrophy.
Training as heavy as you can day-in-day-out puts you at risk of injury: Performance varies day to day depending on sleep, recovery, mood and calorie intake. Progress is not linear, so push it harder on days you feel good, and scale it back when you’re not. This is the basis for the ramping guidelines in the Propane protocol, where the loading choice is based on today’s performance. That way, you’ll be able to ride the wave without driving yourself into the ground by training at the daily threshold. Couple that with ensuring the target muscle groups are firing effectively by following the above tip, and brace yourself for sweet gainz.
Superset a light isolation movement of the target muscle group with a heavy compound lift to flush blood into the muscle and train it more effectively. The pump will make you feel like you’re about to burst.
EDIT: See the comments on this article for some useful exercise pairings to use.