By: Jim Bryan
Following are some of the ways you can alter or modify the intensity of your workouts. Some are from Arthur Jones learned in the 70′s. Others are more recent. None are my “discoveries” I learned them from some of the more well known Strength Training Authorities. I have been fortunate to meet many trainers in my 40 plus years of Strength Training. I’ll cover as many as I can.
Adding weight or Reps
This is fundamental. You have to train in a progressive manner. Add a little weight when you can do a certain amount of reps, or do extra reps if the weight feels “lite” that day. Keep a log and always try to improve from your last workout.
What if you are already training very heavy and the force of the weights on your joints is starting to worry you?
Then you can try some of these options before going back to your heavy weights and regular workouts.
Training to Failure or Overload
Don’t argue over this. Do it if you want……….or not! Nobody really cares. This is not only the domain of the HIGH INTENSITY trainee. Many also use it that don’t consider themselves to be of the “HIT” Camp. It is just a tool. In the old days we continued an exercise until we couldn’t move…….by any means. Today I stop a set for most of my clients when their form starts to break down. It is a judgment call for me and I prefer to keep my clients training as safe as possible. Now and then I find someone that can push like we used to and for those rare clients that’s what we do. Easier to do with machines but can be done with free weights, especially if you have a “Power Rack”.
Using an Isolation or “single joint” movement preceding a compound or “multi Joint” movement for a muscle group. Example: Leg Extension then Squats or Leg press. Or Side Lateral raise then Standing or Seated Press. You are “Pre Exhausting” the target muscle group then finishing off that group with a compound movement.
Immediately after reaching failure remove some of the weight and continue for a few more reps. Don’t overdo this one. One or two Breakdowns for an exercise are good.
Your training partners raise the weight or do the “concentric” part of the movement and you lower it. Lowering the weight is the negative or “eccentric” portion. You’ll be using quite a bit of weight for this. Research says you are 40% stronger lowering a weight than you are raising it. Make sure you are lowering under control. This is a hard way to workout. It is especially hard on your partners.
Raising, pulling, or pushing the weight with two limbs and lowering it with one. An easier way of doing negative training. You don’t need help.
Pick three exercises. One for the legs and hips, one for the upper back, one for the chest and shoulders. Train one right after another in circuit fashion and repeat a total of three times. Usually done to failure with no rest at all. Example: Squat or Leg Press or Trap Bar deadlift. Then Chins or Pullovers (or pulldowns) or a rowing movement. Third movement could be Dips or overhead presses (standing or seated) or bench press. Check your shorts when your done!
Find a rep range that you like doing and complete that set by pausing from time to time to finish that set. Another words you normally wouldn’t be able to complete the reps without pausing.
Pick a half dozen or so exercises that cover the whole body. Use your normal weight or close to it. Now all you have to do is complete 30 reps! One set each exercise. With most people this is a “rest pause” effort. However, I have one client that can go through a full workout doing straight sets! No rest! No she doesn’t use baby weights. She looks like a model and has Bull Dog determination. She won’t quit. I can’t do it!
Same as above only this time you have to complete FIFTY reps. Oh, By the way! She does this with out a pause also. Who says Women are the weaker?
Never done it. Have heard that some have. Same as above only 100 reps. Call in to work and tell them you won’t be in for a while!
Similar to a breakdown set except the weight is not changed. At failure your partner supplies enough help for you to complete three or four more reps. This technique has been around as long as dirt.
RenX (formerly known as “Super Slow” training) is a very effective protocol and it’s not easy. If you have an opportunity to learn from a certified RenX Trainer, do it. Check with Renaissance Exercise under Ken Hutchins. Their website can explain the details. There are many.
In each rep pause at the contracted position and then lower it a quarter of the way down. Then all the way back up to full contraction before lowering to start position. This is one rep. Do each rep like this.
Do one rep and take a full deep breath. Then do two reps followed by a full deep breath. Then do three reps followed by a full deep breath. Then do four reps following the same breathing format. Then five reps. Then six reps all using a pause with a full deep breath. You can also start with six reps and go to one. I guess you could call this “Regressions” but the same people that get their shorts in a knot over the term “Failure” would probably get in a hissie over this term also. Oh, please get a life.
Three consecutive sets followed by a 30 second rest between sets. After the first set, 10 pounds are added for the upper body exercises and 20 pounds for the lower. For the third set remove the added weights.
Do a full rep and then a half rep. That counts as one rep.
30 second Hold
On the first rep pause in the contracted position for 30 seconds before continuing the set.
10 Second holds
Pause for ten seconds in the contracted position for every rep in a set of exercises.
7 Up set
A set where seven normal speed reps to failure are followed by a 30-45 second pause in the fully contracted position.
15 Second Reps
Five seconds to raise the weight, followed by a five second contraction, then a five second lowering of the weight. Do each rep of the set this way.
30 Second Reps
Same as above but use 10 seconds for the raise-hold-lower sequence.
Used primarily by the competitive Strength Athlete. Means simply to do sets using single reps, double reps, or triples. You will be using max weights doing this, so the force will be high. Can be dangerous, but if you accept the danger use it to your benefit! If you are worried about what the force may do to your joints over time, then avoid this.
Your partner or trainer/coach provides the resistance in these movements. I usually use it for the neck. (Manual Resistance for the neck can be done by yourself) The pressure or resistance is supplied by you or your partners hands. Can be done for many muscle groups, such as shoulders (laterals) Chest (flys) Thighs (abductor/adductor) Biceps (manual curls) Triceps (pushdowns/ tri press) Use your imagination and you can come up with several exercises. Can be a very intense way to work out. I don’t like it for to many workouts in a row but is fine from time to time. It can be hard on your partner, they usually get worn out before they workout.
Done at the end of a workout to squeeze every last ounce of effort you can supply. Farmers Walk for distance, Sand or sawdust bag carries for distance or time, Sled pull for distance or pushing some kind of weighted object for distance (car, sled, etc.) I use a two minute nonstop punching drill on a hanging heavy bag. Great for conditioning! I don’t use it for every workout just from time to time. Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Use what you think you can. This is by no means a complete list. I’ll probably think of some more as soon as I turn this article in. But it’s time to stop.
Strength Training is a journey, so enjoy the trip!
Train Safe….Train Hard….Train Smart
Thanks to: Arthur Jones, Kim Wood, Dr. Ken, Mark Asanovich, Matt Brzycki, Jim Flanagan and John Szimanski.
Another awesome article from my friend Jim Bryan. Thanks Jim!