It is sometimes necessary to look at implementing advanced training techniques into your training regime in order to continue to stimulate muscle growth and to avoid a lengthy training plateau. The following techniques can be judiciously incorporated into your program. However, extensive or prolonged use can easily lead to over training.
Use Forced Reps:
Forced reps are a technique to extend a set and maintain intensity beyond failure. When you have reached initial failure in a set, have your training partner or spotter give you just the right amount of assistance to help you through 2-3 more reps. By prolonging the set past the normal point of failure, you essentially optimize the stress placed on the muscle fibers and therefore overload the targeted muscles. It is a good practice to attempt forced reps during your last set of a particular exercise. Research confirms that forced reps lead to greater GH levels and enhance fat loss.
Overload The Muscles To Stimulate Steady Growth:
The key to hypertrophy (increase in muscle growth) is forcing the muscle to respond to an increased workload. Using the overload principle continually forces muscles to respond and adapt to a task they are not accustomed to, so they must respond by getting strong enough to handle the load.
Pre-Exhaust The Muscle Working Large Muscle Groups:
When training Quadraceps (thigh muscle) for example, do 2-3 sets of leg extensions to fatigue the quads before moving onto leg presses, and use a lighter weight than usual in this instance. These lighter sets help fatigue the quads to the max without placing undue stress on your joints, tendons and ligaments.
Use Training Split Routines to Maximize Efficiency:
With split routines you’ll likely hit a few or even one body part on a particular day, a another one on the next day and so on. This allows you to train on successive days, as other body parts rest while you train the other groups.
As with forced reps, you can use this strength building method at the end of a set to extend it beyond failure. With machine exercises for example, complete your scheduled set of reps then rest 10 – 15 seconds to regain strength, then attempt more reps until failure and rest again for another 10 – 15 seconds, then perform even more reps.
Use Partial Reps for Increasing Intensity:
When forced reps are not practical for increasing intensity you can try implementing partial reps. After reaching failure on a particular exercise, continue to lift the weight as much or as high as possible – whether that means doing 3/4 range of motion, 1/2 or even 1/4 of the movement. This will surely fatigue the muscle to ensure good muscle growth.
Use Negative Reps:
Another way to extend a set beyond failure is to resist the weight as it moves through the negative (eccentric phase) part of the rep. Lower the weight as slowly as possible to maximize the stress placed on the muscle group and fibers by controlling the negative. One particular program that emphasizes this principle is the German Volume Training Method or the 10 set – 10 Rep Method.
Use Drop Sets to Maintain Intensity:
Drop sets are practical for anyone training alone and applicable to exercises that make forced reps inefficient or all but impossible. For example during standing dumb bell curls, drop the weight at the point of failure and pick up dumbbells that are 20-30% lighter to squeeze out a few more reps. Maintaining intensity passed the point of failure is effective for gaining muscle mass.