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High Intensity Training Workout Techniques
Since the "heavy duty" craze emerged, forced reps
have become very popular among bodybuilders the world over. The idea of
a forced rep is to assist a trainer with a few more reps of an exercise
when he can not continue alone. A few more reps are 'squeezed out' when
a spotter helps lighten the load. Be sure to use an experienced spotter who should relieve you of only 10-15% of the load so you can complete 2-3 more reps before failure. These extra forced reps are crucial to stimulate growth and build muscle which eludes the average gym rat. This is a very intense way of training
and can bring remarkable results, but overdoing it will quickly lead to overtraining and fatigue. Use them occasionally to get past a sticking point in your program. If you recuperate from workouts slowly, get plenty of rest after using forced reps or they will slow
your progress and rob you of energy.
Although strict reps are recommended, especially for
beginners, there are times when a bodybuilder may benefit from "cheating".
This is a way of getting around a weak link in a muscle area, not just
a means to increase the weight you're using. Only cheat to benefit a particular area. An example would be to lean the body backwards
to help lift the weight in a standing barbell curl, instead of keeping
the torso rigid. A trainer might "cheat" the weight up in order to lower
it slowly on the negative part (see Negative), or cheat only for the last few reps to
complete the set. Either way, cheat reps should be used to target an area
of muscle that doesn't usually receive any direct resistance, and used
Here is an example of the 21 system: using a moderate
weight on the shoulder press, perform 7 reps moving the bar through the 'top
half only' of the movement (from the locked elbow position
to 50% of the way down) Then, without stopping, do 7 reps on the lower
half of the movement, from the bar almost touching the base of the neck to half way
up. Immediately after, perform 7 full reps as you do in a normal shoulder
press movement. With a spotter, you could even use a heavier weight for the top half of the movement (7 reps), have him remove some of the weight straight away, before continuing with the second and third phase of the exercise (14 reps). This system can be used for almost all exercises, especially
in shoulder, chest, back and arm exercises where it invariably gives good
results. Use your head when choosing a weight for this method. This really is a 'shock' technique and could give you the boost
This method is used extensively by almost every
bodybuilder for compound (multi-joint) movements like squats and bench
presses. The idea is that, starting with a high rep set, weight is added and reps
are reduced for each set as the muscles warm up and fill with blood. When a peak weight is reached (for 4-6 reps)
the weight is reduced and reps increased to gain a good pump. This technique works both fast and slow-twitch fibres of the muscle, and can be very effective once mastered. Use it for compound, multi-joint movements like the bench press.
To perform a negative rep, you raise the weight with help, and lower it by yourself. Let's look at an example. Take the bench press,
with poundage above your normal working weight; a spotter helps you raise
the loaded barbell on the 'positive' part of a rep. Then you slowly lower the
weight on the 'negative' part by yourself, resisting gravity on the way
down. This technique greatly stresses a muscle group and builds strength, but can quickly lead
to fatigue. If you want to 'shock' the muscles, try negative reps
occasionally for maximum intensity.
The definition of burns is to continue a set with
a few partial reps (see below) when full reps can no longer be done. This
takes a set to complete failure and causes a painful burning sensation
in the worked muscle, caused by a build up of lactic acid. Put the pain out of your mind and push past it, because it'll be worth it. You will notice a tremendous pump after applying
burns and the added stress will stimulate new growth. Burns are used
on exercises such as preacher curls, triceps pressdowns, dumbbell flyes,
lat pulldowns, calf raises and chest dips.
As you all know, a strict (complete) rep is performed
by working a muscle through a full range of motion. A "partial" rep, on
the other hand, is rep where only half the range of motion is worked -
the middle part. Take the overhead barbell press. The bar would start
from the top of the neck and end before the elbows locked out, only half
the range of motion. Partial reps can be used for most exercises, but
not all. You can benefit from using this technique as part of your program,
as muscle areas will be worked differently, which is what you need to
stimulate new growth. Remember to increase the weight with partial reps,
as the strongest part of the muscle will be worked.
What is isotension ? To perform isotension, the muscles
are flexed towards the end of a rep. Tense the muscle area really hard
on the last few reps of the set - imagine yourself flexing in front of
a mirror. Disregard the weight, it doesn't matter if your reps are not
strict either. Just try to get the muscle severely tensed to the point
of cramping. This tensing of the muscle will create visible striations
in your form, and brings rapid results if done consistently.
Slo-Mo reps are performing an exercise in "slow motion".
Why do this ? Firstly, by performing an exercise slowly you cut out the
momentum of faster reps, which in turn increases the time-under-load (TUL). It also makes
you concentrate more on each rep. The negative (return part) of each rep
is also intensified, and this will give you the feeling the reps have
been doubled. Try this technique and you'll see that it really works, but requires discipline to be
used for extended periods.
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