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Comparison of a l.is-kilo plate with four "little gems", i.e., o.s-kilo, o.2s-kilo and o.i-kilo plates for Olympic bars, and a l.zs-pound magnetic PlateMate® which can be attached to larger plates, fixed-weight dumbbells and barbells, and weight stacks.

months you will have gained while most in the gym will have continued to stagnate.

7.61 ^ere are even small "plates" which are magnetic, so that you can easily stick them to barbells, dumbbells or weight stacks.

7.62 If you cannot find any small discs, or do not want to buy them, visit a hardware store, a metal workshop or supplier, and get some metal washers, preferably with holes the right size to fit the bar(s) you use. Get enough to total 4 pounds. ^en you can add them in i-pound increments to take you, for example, from 280 to 284 in the bench press and then be ready to use regular plates to make the full 285. ^en you would use the washers to build to 289, and so on. If the washers do not fit your bar(s), tape them onto your loaded barbell as needed.

7.63 To discover the weight of each washer, ask a post office worker to weigh one on the calibrated scale there; or use a kitchen scale. You could weigh several washers if they are of identical size, and then divide the total weight by the number of washers, to get the weight of just one.

7.64 As an alternative to the washers, tape bits of metal of known weight onto your large plates, or fix ankle or wrist weights onto your bar. You can use a combination of imperial and metric plates to produce an increment of about i pound, if both types of discs are available, or use bars of slightly different weights. Use your imagination and you will manage.

7.65 You do not need your little discs or substitutions during the early stage of a training cycle when you are having a mental and physical rest before hitting the full-bore training stage once more. For the early part of a cycle, after having cut back your poundages by 10-15%, you may be able to add 5-10

pounds a week in a big exercise. ^en as you get very near to your former best poundages, get out the i-pound discs and nudge yourself up to your former best, then continue with the i-pound discs as you go into new poundage territory. Perhaps later on you will need to use the very little discs.

7.66 Doing it this way, assuming you are continuously healthy and well rested, and well short of your ultimate strength potential, this week's full-bore 256 pounds in the bench press, for example, should feel as difficult as last week's 255, and as difficult as next week's 257, and the following week's 258. Once you have found the volume, frequency and intensity of training, along with your optimum nutritional and rest schedule, that enables you to progress like this, you can maintain it for long periods—this is the "slow cooking" way to gain. 7en you will have found the Golden Fleece of bodybuilding and strength training—linear progress for long periods. It will not be a pound a week on every exercise, but it can be for the biggest movements. And it could even be two pounds a week in the deadlift and squat, for a long period; then later on dropping to a single pound a week. In smaller exercises the progression could be half a pound every week or two.

7.67 You could argue that this method takes months to build up substantial poundage gains whereas just a couple of weeks at a bigger weekly increment will get you there, thus saving you weeks or even months. If you can keep the bigger increments coming, in good form, then you will make more progress. But if you try to increase the weights faster than you can build strength, your form will break down, the momentum of your training cycle will be killed, and you may not even make it back to your former best poundages, let alone exceed them. Much better to take the long and sure route rather than try the supposedly fast way but only end up short-circuiting the cycle and killing your progress.

7.68 Work at the rate of i pound each week to get from 255 pounds to 265, for example, and you will have a good chance of doing it. And after the ten weeks you would need, maybe you could keep going for another ten weeks at half a pound a week, thus adding a total of 15 pounds to your best bench press work set. ^ough a beginner can progress at a faster rate than this, this is a fine rate of progress for any other category of trainee.

7.69 ^ere are hundreds of thousands of people training with weights who stay roughly at the same poundages for year after year. Break out of the common rut of stagnation.

7.70 Get yourself some little gems—get your name engraved on them, treasure them, and exploit the magic they possess to add loads of muscle to you over the long term. Slowly, steadily, safely and surely is the "slow cooking" successful way to go—it is not spectacular over the short term, but it is spectacular over the long term. Successful hard-gainer training, except for raw beginners, is about the long term—forget the claims for safe quick fixes.

7.71 Suppose your bench press is currently 225 pounds for 6 reps. Compute adding a mere half pound to your bench press each week. Too little to matter? Baby stuff? You are in a hurry to gain and cannot afford to waste time on such tiny increments? Progress at that rate for ten years and you will add 260 pounds to your bench press, taking you to 485. Impossible you say, and it is unless you are blessed with a phenomenal genetic inheritance for building muscle and might. Okay then, progress at that rate for only five years and you would add a "mere" 130 pounds to your bench press. I bet there are few trainees beyond novice status who would not settle for adding 130 pounds to their bench press over the next five or even ten years.

7.72 Many people want gains fast, and their effort to get them fast end up leaving them behind the person who settles on progressing in the slow and sure way. Of course, if you could add 5 pounds alternate weeks while maintaining good form, and keep it up for a year, that would be magnificent. You would make the 130 pounds gain in a single year. But progress does not happen that way for genetically typical and drug-free people who are beyond the novice level.

7.73 Poundage progression cannot be linear indefinitely, even at a mere half pound a week. If progress could be linear indefinitely, there would be lots of people who would eventually end up bench pressing 600+ pounds. ^ere are limits, though precisely what they are for you, only you can discover.

Get your own set of little discs, or make improvisations, and then you will be able to make very small poundage increments, and thus slowly, safely and surely accumulate success.

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