While some of you out there are perfectly content to continue going through the motions and maintain the status quo in your training, others may be looking to finally step it up a bit.
If you seek to get stronger, bigger, faster, or all of the above for the real “type A” personalities out there, the same old thing just won’t cut the mustard any more.
There are a number of ways to bust through the proverbial plateaus that beset the hardcore faithful, and here are a few of your columnist’s favorites:
Beat the clock
Forced reps are repetitions continued past the point of normal “failure”, done with the help of a training partner.
You should require only a minimum of help to finish an extra repetition or 2, and your training partner should not be getting the workout instead of you. These should be used sparingly.
Super sets are combined sets of 2 exercises, either hitting the same muscles or antagonistic muscle groups like biceps followed by triceps movements. These have been a bodybuilders favorite for eons, but not very popular with the power crowd in general. Super sets can be extended into giant sets for the Spartans among us.
Timed intervals consist of doing a particular exercise for a set amount of time, followed by a set amount (as short as tolerable) of rest, and repeating this cycle for several or more cycles. You can get a pretty good workout done in a very short time if you use this method with a full body exercise or combination, if you are crunched for time.
“Beat the clock” is related to interval training in that you are still going by time rather than a set number of repetitions, but rest periods can be more flexible if you are looking for strength or hypertrophy as opposed to getting the heart rate close to max. A good time frame is 45 seconds to a minute, seeing how many reps of a given weight you can do within that period. Others have talked about this concept in relation to the idea of “time under tension” or “TUT”
The rest/pause idea involves something like a forced rep, but may be done with no spotter with the proper equipment.
In this method, when normal failure is reached, you take a breath or 2 before continuing the set (resting with the bar in a position that requires no power to maintain during the rest period). For the ultimate challenge, continue the technique until another rep becomes impossible even after a fairly long rest/pause.
We will discuss more torture techniques in future articles, so stay tuned, you masochists.