Training your body is an ever changing process. When you start, it almost seems like just going to the gym will guarantee some level of growth and change in your body. But as time passes, your body adapts to the different ways you place stress on it.
At the same time you should be learning more about the process of weight training. This ever-increasing base of knowledge will add to the experience you need to keep your body growing and becoming stronger week after week and month after month. This article is aimed at helping increase your knowledge on great techniques to help push your body to new heights of strength, size, and power.
It should be understood that these techniques are not meant for beginners. What we are trying to do here is stress and rip a lot of muscle fibers that the intermediate and advanced lifter can’t do anymore from pushing sets to failure. You can’t keep doing the same thing workout after workout and expect growth, but this group of tips can be added to any routine to shock your body into growth.
A note on using these types of techniques; ideally you only want to use them on one set per body part. This level of focus should cause a lot of muscle damage so using them for every set of a chest workout in a session is extreme overkill and will cause more harm than good. When done properly, just using a single technique will be more than enough.
This is my personal favorite of all the techniques you can use to spur muscle growth. It is simple, you can do it by yourself, and it doesn’t take much extra time during a workout. The simple idea is pushing your set to absolute failure. Then you take off some weight and push out as many more reps as you can. Then you drop more weight and do as many more reps as possible. I prefer to get a set of 5-6 reps to exhaustion and then drop enough weight to do another 2-4 reps per drop for a total of 9-16 reps. For example I might be doing Hammer Machine Rows and I will have the following plates on each side: 45×2, 25×2. I simply strip a 25 plate off each side for each drop.
This is another great technique that I really enjoy using on chest and quads. I like it because I end up using less weight on bench press and squats after pre-exhausting myself. Since I don’t workout with a partner it is a bit safer and I am less likely to injure myself. For this technique you simply start with an isolation exercise before a compound exercise. For quads I would start with 3 sets of leg extensions to really pump up and tire out my quads before moving on to squats. For chest I would do machine flyes for 3 sets before hitting bench press. Really this is a great technique because your muscles and joints are fully warmed up after the isolation exercise and the muscle is tired which allows the supporting muscles (such as triceps and shoulders) to push the primary muscle to a new level of exhaustion. Normally for bench presses, the triceps give out before the chest.
My third favorite technique that I use regularly is the classic rest-pause. Generally I do this a lot with heavy machine exercises. On the last set you push out reps to absolute exhaustion, pushing even a partial rep if you can. Let go of the machine (to allow normal blood flow to resume) and count to 10. Then go all out again for another 1 or 2 reps (if you can). Repeat this process 2 to 3 times if you can. The concept is similar to doing drop sets but because you never reduce the weight it affects you a bit differently. To ensure maximum strength gain, focus hard on the negative motion going as slowly as possible.
After working out for so many years you just need an extra little kick to keep your muscles guessing. These 3 techniques are by far the best options for any serious lifter to shock your body into new growth. I use them regularly and typically cycle through them to never attack my muscles the exact same way too often.