Author: Troy Theodosiou
Intensity techniques allow you to go beyond conventional failure in order to work the muscle harder, providing a stimulus to get larger and stronger. The following is a list of advanced intensity techniques and how to use them.
Working out is supposed to be fun, not just productive. One of the ways to make it more fun (in a sadistic sort of way) is to make it harder – which in turn likely makes it more productive.
What is it: A set where, after reaching failure with the initial load, the weight is immediately decreased and reps are performed to failure once again. The set is either finished at this point or multiple dropsets are performed, where the weight is decreased further and failure is reached each time.
Why you should do it: Dropsets allow you to take your muscles past failure on a given exercise and extend a set without resting, which increases the exhaustion in that muscle group for better gains in size and definition. If you have a weak body part that could use some extra attention, dropsets are ideal.
How to do it: Dropping the right amount of weight is key, as is exercise selection. If you don’t lighten the resistance enough, you’ll only be able to do a few more reps, if at all. If you drop too much weight, however, your muscle won’t be challenged enough to get the full benefit of the technique. If you failed at, say, 10 reps with the initial weight, you’ll want to fail close to that rep count on subsequent dropsets — at 8-10 reps, rather than 3-5.
2) Forced Rep
What it is: A technique where, after reaching failure on a set, a spotter assists in lifting the weight so that you can get past your sticking point and continue the set.
Why you should do it: Research confirms that forced reps increase growth hormone GH levels more than sets taken only to muscle failure. This anabolic hormone secreted by the pituitary gland plays a key role in muscle and bone growth. GH is also critical for fat burning—studies have shown that athletes using forced reps drop more body fat than those stopping at failure.
How to do it: The key to effective forced-rep training is having a spotter who knows what he is doing. The objective is to get two to four forced reps at the end of a set—not 8-10. For that reason, the spotter shouldn’t be helping too much and taking on most of the work. He should make you work hard throughout each and every forced rep, providing just enough assistance to get you past your sticking point. That said, the spotter shouldn’t be making you work so hard that the reps each take five seconds on the concentric portion.
3) Partial Rep
What it is: A technique where reps are performed short of your full range of motion (ROM), typically at the end of a set when strict reps are no longer physically possible due to fatigue, which doesn’t allow you to lift the weight past your “sticking point.”
Why you should do it: Because you’d rather not stop to rest, lighten the weight, or end the set just yet. Achieving full ROM is always recommended, but partials can help you extend a set seamlessly to fatigue your muscle fibers that much more, even if it’s just in the bottom or top half of the movement.
How to do it: The majority of the set is still taken through a full ROM. Using biceps curls as an example, let’s say you choose a weight you can do for 10 strict rep, when you’ve reached failure and are unable to move the bar past a certain point, simply do reps where you’re lifting the weight as far up as possible.