When you begin the transition from beginner to advanced, you will need to incorporate some advanced training techniques. Here is a brief description of some of the most popular ones.
Try to challenge yourself by putting in more exercises into your routine without using more time. Or you can try to get the same routine done in less time. This means less time between sets and it requires a fast recovery rate.
Heavy and light days. Probably my favorite way to shock my muscles is to use heavy and light training days. On heavy days, I use as much weight as I can for 3-4 reps and on light days I put on as much weight as I can for 12-15 reps. This is good for me because I train 6 days a week doing each body part twice per week.
Forced reps are pretty popular. I don’t like them too much but people do get pretty good results from them. A forced rep is when you are trying to lift more weight than you can lift by yourself and you need your partner to help you get it up. The only time I like these is when you are at your failure point and you just need a little help to get the last one up.
Partial reps are a great way to get your muscles to burn. When doing partial bench press reps, you should only lift the weight about 4 inches off of your chest. This goes for any other exercise as well. Only do the first half of the rep. (don’t do these for squats- they are a waste of time).
Isolate your muscles to get the most out of a particular workout. Doing leg extensions are a great isolation workout for your thighs. For biceps I recommend doing dumbbell curls. isolation.
Isotension is imperative if you want to be a competitive bodybuilder. This is when you continuously flex and relax your muscles before, between, and after your workout and even between reps. Practicing your posing routine is a form of isotension as well.
Negative reps are when you are lowering the weight. My favorite exercise to do negatives on is with straight bar curls. To do this, you curl the bar up as normal then lower it very slowly. Concentrate on holding the weight as hard as you can. If you can hold it easily, then its not enough weight.
Cheating is when you lose your form just for a second to help get you through a tough spot in your workout. For instance, if you are doing standing military press and you can’t seem to push out the last rep and you begin to use your legs to give you momentum to lift it, this is cheating. Keeping good form in general is one of the most important criteria to becoming strong and staying healthy so this type of practice should be avoided as much as possible.
Heavy Duty training is when you go to your usual workout weight right after warming up. Usually, I do a few (3-4) sets to pyramid up to my workout weight and get the blood pumping. With the heavy duty method of training, you skip the pyramid and go straight to the top.
Staggered sets are usually used to help develop an underdeveloped area. For instance if your calves were a little smaller than you like, you might incorporate an extra day of calf exercises on a day that they aren’t scheduled for. So when chest day comes around you would do a set of calf raises between each exercise you do that day. By the end of the day you may have done 20-30 sets!
Prioritize your workout so that you are putting a specific emphasis on your “weak” areas. Personally, My back could use a little more work. On back day I could use one or more of the techniques above to help make my workout more enjoyable and effective. I could also schedule my back day on Monday so I am more fresh… get the point?
Supersets are one of my personal favorites! This can be done two ways actually.
- You can superset the same muscle group. i.e.: doing pushups between sets of bench press.
- You can superset opposing muscle groups. i.e.: doing pull-ups between sets of bench press. I like doing them both ways.
Stripping weight as you go is a very effective way to build muscle. This allows you to work through your fatigue. Basically, you do as many reps as you can until you are completely fatigued, then you “strip” some weight off of the bar and immediately go again until you are fatigued at that weight. This is a good way to make you feel weak, but you really get a pump!
I Go/You Go: This is a pretty fun exercise especially when you and your partner are about the same strength and size. Basically, if you are doing curls, once you are done with your set you hand the weight off to your partner then he goes. You can go back and forth until one of you gives up. Or you can do one, then your partner does one, then you do two, then he does two, then three and go up to 15 or so then back down.