Bodybuilding Advanced Training Techniques

By: Dave Monyer

Once you have been bodybuilding for at least six months or more, you may be ready to employ some advanced training techniques in order to increase the intensity of your workouts. If you are no longer experiencing soreness the day or two after a good workout, you may need to start using one or two of the following techniques. Once your muscles get used to your workouts taking the last set to the point of muscular failure, you must then go slightly past muscular failure in order to stimulate new growth.

Drop Sets

Drop sets is a technique in which immediately following your last rep of your last set, you quickly decrease the weight so that you can pump out two or three more reps. Here is an example using seated dumbbell curls: You are performing your last set of dumbbell curls with 35 pound dumbbells. You have just performed nine reps and no matter how hard you try, you can not get that 10th rep. As quickly as possible, drop the 35 pound dumbbells and pick up 25 pound dumbbells and continue until you reach muscular failure again. Now drop the 25 pound dumbbells and quickly grab 10 or 15 pound dumbbells and continue once more. Your biceps muscles will be much more exhausted now than they would have been if you've had stopped the set on the ninth rep of your last set.

Drop sets can be done with virtually any exercise. For some exercises you may have to stop, get up and remove plates from each side of a barbell in order to reduce the weight for your extended set. If you're using a weight stack on a cable machine, you simply need to stop, pull the pin and select a lighter weight. If you train with a partner or several partners on an exercise such as the bench press, you can have the partners remove the weight plates on each side and you could immediately continue your set with the lighter weight.

Negative Reps

Every exercise has a positive and negative aspect to the movement. When you are doing bicep curls, you start with your arms extended and you curl the weight up. That is the positive side of the rep. When you lower the weight back down, that is the negative part of the rep. Your muscles can handle more weight on the way down, that on the way up. Therefore, when you get to muscular failure during your set of curls, what that really means is your muscles are no longer able to raise the weight. However the muscle is still capable of lowering the weight slowly under control. Negative reps is simply a technique in which to continue your set after you reach positive muscular failure by only performing at negative portion of the repetition.

This technique is easily done with a training partner. If you are doing barbell curls for example, when you reach the point where you can no longer raise the weight, your training partner steps in and assists you in raising the weight. This allows you to lower the weight without assistance, one or two additional times. This technique can be very difficult to use in certain exercises such as squats, where the weight would be far too much for one training partner to assist you in raising it so you could lower it again. It is easily used in exercises such as concentration curls or single arm dumbbell curls. When you fail, you can use your other arm to assist you in raising the weight, and then continue lowering the weight with only the muscle being worked. It is also possible to use momentum or body motion to assist you in raising the weight if you don't have a training partner to help you. Use this technique to extend your final set by one or two repetitions.

Forced Reps

Forced reps is similar technique to negative reps in that your training partner will be helping you to do one or two additional positive repetitions, after muscular failure. Using this technique, your partner will be watching you perform your last set. When you can no longer raise the weight he will give you just barely enough help to keep the weight moving in a positive direction, but he will not lift it for you, as he did in the negative rep technique. Perform one or two forced reps at the end of your last set.

Rest-Pause

This is a technique that you can do without a training partner. To perform this technique, simply perform your last set as usual and until you reach muscular failure and simply pause for 30-45 seconds, and do one more rep. Repeat this process for 2-3 reps and you will surely feel the burn!

Partial Reps

This technique can be used in a couple of different ways. One way in which this is used is to take a weight that is heavier than your normal weight for a particular exercise but only perform one third or one half of a regular repetition. For example, on a bench press, load the weight up a little heavier than you normally use, and when you take it off the rack, only lower the weight one third of the way down before pressing it back up. You'll find that since you're only doing a small portion of the repetition, you can use a much heavier weight.

This is a method of increasing your strength in one portion of all full repetition at a time. You'll have to experiment with the amount of weight to use in the various exercises. You can do the top third of the movement, the middle third of the movement or the bottom third of the movement usually working the portion of the movement where you tend to fail at the end of the set. For example, when you're bench pressing and you reach muscular failure, if it is usually right in the middle of the movement, that's where you want focus your partial reps to improve your strength in that area. If muscular failure for you is when the weight is touching your chest, then you want to work on the bottom third of the movement to increase your strength at that point.

Super Set

A superset is another technique to add intensity to your workouts. This is simply a technique in which you perform two or three different exercises for the same muscle group with little or no rest in between.

For example, do a set of bench presses and then when you reach failure, immediately start performing flyes until failure. You can superset squats and leg extensions, barbell curls and concentration curls, military presses and lateral raises, triceps press downs, French presses, and the list goes on. You can also add a third movement once you get accustomed to the technique.

Another way to use supersets is to superset opposing muscles. For example, do a set of a triceps exercise until failure and immediately go to a biceps exercise until failure. Do a set of bench presses and immediately follow that with a set of low pulley rows for the lats. This is a good way to engorge an entire area with blood, enhancing your pump and triggering greater muscle growth.

Super Slow Reps

Super slow reps are and other excellent way to increase intensity and push your muscles past muscular failure. This one is pretty self explanatory, in that basically you do your regular routine except that each rep is performed at an extremely slow pace. Extremely slow can mean anywhere from 4-10 seconds going up, and 4-10 seconds going down. You can experiment with this one as to when in the set to apply this technique, and how long you want each rep to last.

For example, you can perform your set as usual except when you get to appoint where you know you can complete at least one more rep, perform that last rep super slow. The very first time you try this technique, you will feel muscle fibers working that you didn't even know you had!

Static Holds

This is a technique I have recently implemented in my own training. As with most of the other techniques, there are various ways to utilize static holds. That method I use is to apply it only on the negative portion of the last rep of my last set. When I get to the point (in the bench press for example) where I had pressed the barbell all the way up and I know I can not complete another rep, I lower the barbell about half way down and attempt to hold it in that position as long as possible. I will probably only be able to hold it there for a second or two and then fight it all the weight down until it rests on the power rack pins.

This technique is very similar to super slow reps. The difference is that using super slow reps, you are concentrating on lowering the weight under control for a predetermined period of time (i.e. 10 seconds). Using static holds you are actually attempting to hold the weight in one position which actually requires you to push against the weight as if you are attempting another positive repetition.

Once you begin to experiment with these techniques, you will see and feel the differences between them. You will want to learn to use each technique so that you will have many different methods to increase the intensity of your workouts, which also has the added benefit of making your workouts more interesting! Since the human body has the amazing ability to adapt to repeated stresses, you will need to change the techniques you use from time to time to keep your muscles growing.

Once you begin to increase the intensity of your workouts, it is more important than ever to be sure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to continue growing. You must consume 1 to 1.5 g of high quality protein per pound of body weight each and every day.

If you are not getting enough protein, you will not get the results you are looking for! The workout only triggers muscle growth, but the actual process of increasing muscle size and strength occurs between workouts. It is during this recovery phase that your muscles rebuild using the amino acids (protein) that are available in the bloodstream. It is up to you to provide your muscles with a continuing supply of protein. It is also a good idea to feed your muscles the proper amount of creatine and glutamine before and after each workout.

For more information on Protein Supplements, visit:

http://www.RockSolidBodybuilding.com/protein

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