Cheers to all A-lifters! It’s Friday and it’s my favorite day of the week – so today we will discuss some techniques that you might have not tried before.
Note: Although we call the moves we are about to discuss below “high intensity”, the official term for these moves is “High-effort” moves – keep that in mind just in case.
So you have been lifting for quite a while and so far you have been getting some consistent gains from your basic training program. Since you are an A-Lifter, you take your sessions seriously and not just like any “work-out” like your minivan-driving gym dude neighbor who always wears a his thousand-dollar spandex. But there comes a time when you feel like you can take on more intensity, more teeth grinding effort and you feel that you are missing out. Or what if you feel that you have simply hit the wall and your repetitive program doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore?
Well fear not because we got just the thing for you! Below are some of my “tools of the trade”. Just include these techniques into your regular training program and I guarantee that you will ramp up your gains.
Here’s Mike Mentzer at his prime, one of the guys who popularized high intensity moves. Although he swears by the low volume method; in reality he trained with a little bit more volume but he augmented his regimen with some high intensity (high effort) moves like the one’s we will discuss below:
The techniques below can be easily added into a regular training program and are designed to “intensify” your session. But just a disclaimer! Not because I said they are “easy” to add means they are “easy-peasy” stuff. These techninques are ONLY for the serious trainees and without further ado – let’s get to business! (also visit the links to the main articles as they are more in-depth for the certain technique)
– Are chins and bodyweight pull-ups starting to get old for you? So you can just annihilate 30 reps straight with your bodyweight in the chin-up bar and it’s a piece of cake – so why not try it with one hand?
So yes, being able to do one hand pronated grip chins might be impossible for most human beings; since it requires you to be built of a certain body frame. For short only a handful of gifted individuals can do complete, full range one-handed chins.
So let’s say you’re already pretty strong with chins, and you can comfortably carry your own bodyweight for more than 15 careful, slow and deliberate reps with pull-ups – but you cannot complete a full range rep of one hand chins? What the hell will you do? Simple!
Do partials and statics!!!
And if you’re feeling a little sadistic; do both! Just do chins for at least 15 reps for 2 sets – you don’t need to reach failure on these two since these are just for the pump. Then on the third and fourth set you do 1 hand pull-ups.
What you need to do if you cannot complete a single rep is do partials. In my case I can get my body up only a few inches from the stretched out position – which like what we said in the last post is very effective for inducing growth.
So after doing regular chins proceed with doing sets of one hand chins – either you do partials or you can do static – meaning you just hold your contraction for at least 30 seconds and not let go or you can do partial reps or pulses from the stretched-out position for 10 reps or until failure. Now if you are one of those freaks who can do a full rep then good for you!Follow @AboutLifting
– 21s workout is a recipe for an out of this world time-under-tension. Imagine how many seconds your target muscle group endures with 21s? Even if you do the reps quickly, which means 1 second up, one second down, you would still toast your muscles with at least 40seconds time under tension!Follow @AboutLifting
21s is when you do 7 partial reps on the lower half of the move’s range of motion, another 7 on the upper half, and then another 7 full range reps; you can also replace one of the 7 second segments with partial isometric holds (meaning, you just flex the muscle and hold the tension with the weight). Take note that you can interchange the order in which you do the segments every set – if you want to do the bottom stretch position partials last, and then by all means do so, as long as you complete your 21s.
Like this, for biceps:
You can apply 21s for any bodypart move, but remember you only chose 21s exercise as the high intensity move for the muscle group. Once you do 21s for a day, there is no reason to apply another intensity move for the same body part. (Like dropsets, inflitonics, etc). You only do 21s for one set for each body part,
1.Neck – Shugs 21s
2.Shoulders – Dumbbell Arnold press/ Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
3.Chest – Any type of Dumbbell Bench Press (incline, flat, decline, etc)/ Also perfect for flyes
4.Back – Chins/Lat Pulldowns (any grip)/ T-bar rows/One arm Bent over Dumbbell Rows
5.Biceps – Spider curls/ Any type of curls that use dumbbells
6.Triceps – Smith Machine Close Grip Bench Press
7.Quads – Squats/ Leg Presses
8.Hamstrings – Leg curls
9.Calves – Calf Raises or any calf exercise are great for 21s
– No, that doesn’t mean that you train you back or lats twice; what this means is that you use superset to train opposing muscle groups at the same training session. Now just an FYI, superset means performing another set of another exercise after doing a set of another. For example doing barbell bench press for 10 reps after doing dumbbell flyes for 10 reps (without rest) note: “flyes-press” combo is actually an example of the “pre exhaust” technique for chest.
So for example instead of doing chest and back at separate days, since they are opposing muscles you’d do them at the same time and not only that; you would also do their exercises in a superset so it would look like this:
Bench press – superset with – Bent over barbell rows 4 sets
Incline dumbbell press – superset with – wide grip cable pull downs 3 sets
Dumbbell flyes – superset with – Pull-overs 4 sets (perfect since pullovers are actually for the back but they are beneficial for the chest as well)
Note: try to be creative and actually design supersets that would utilize the same equipment for the superset, for example barbell curls and close-grip press for a biceps-triceps B2B superset. Check out the moves in our basic training regimen. You should refer to those exercises but do them in this fashion wherein you would superset the opposing with every exercise.
Some convenient examples:
Bench press (any angle) – Bent over barbell rows
Squats/lunges – Good mornings
In some equipments; you can do both leg extensions and hamstring curls (or lying leg curls)
Bicep curls – Skull crushers
Cable to cable workouts (ex: Cable curls – cable kickbacks or cable overhead triceps extensions)
And basically any dumbbell to dumbbell supersets
One thing: shoulders don’t have a counterpart so just train them with biceps and triceps. These are the body parts that you can train in this manner: Chest-Back, Lower back-Abs, Biceps-Triceps, and Quadriceps-Hamstrings.
– This is one of the best ball busting brutal techniques in lifting weights that will surely bring you tons of MUSCLE and RAW strength! If your progress has come to halt or when you hit that hard wall; this technique is the answer.
So how do you do it? Very simple; you know that negatives bring out the best in your training progress, right? It’s basically negatives but this time you get your partner to apply additional pressure at the negative portion of each rep. Your partner pushes the weight down and you try to resist it and you lower the weight as slowly and gently as possible despite the additional pressure. Upon failure you can ask your partner to lift the weight to the top position for you so that you can do more inflitonic reps; surely you can do more negative reps beyond the positive failure. Do this for more intensity. Just make sure that you bought bigger shirts.
Now I tell you, this sh*T hurts like hell! But it’s damn worth it! You just do your sets like you always do, with the slow cadence that we are training for and you just apply this one to the last set of your main multi-joint lift (Squats, Deadlift, Bench press, Military press)for the body part.
But I won’t do this with Deadlifts or you’d be double dead. Seriously; DON’T
If this is your first time doing this, consider using the smith machine for safety until you get a hang of it. One can also do this with lying leg curls with machines; just make your partner apply pressure on the weights at the end of the cable- heck he can even stand on them! See your wheels inflated to a thousand PSI afterwards! You’re also gonna need bigger jeans if you will lift with this technique often with legs.
– This technique has been highly popularized by Mike Mentzer; one of my favorite bodybuilders. You will find more gold from his book: Heavy Duty, this is basically where I learned about this technique. Mike’s principles are not always correct- one thing I disagree with is the extremely long rest periods he proposes in his works; however the high intensity techniques he shares are TOP OF THE CLASS and his techniques are the real thing. That is why we are including some of them here in this site and as you already know – we only talk about the stuff that work.
Therefore below is how the Omni contraction works:
Let us take the classic bench press for example.
Note: ladies! I recommend using a smith machine if this is your first time doing this so that you can focus on the form and the intensity you give to each and every contraction.
You do your first 3 regular 8rm sets for flat bench.
In your last set bring your spotter with you (I recommend having two of them).
The negative phases of the reps is where the magic happens; on your way down at least a few inches before the bar reaches half of its way down try to push the weight up again but have your partner resist and prevent you from lifting the weight up producing a strong isometric contraction within the eccentric contraction. That is the first one and after three seconds of this lower the weight slowly once more; then halfway down do it again push hard! After three seconds lower the weight then when the bar reaches just an inch above the bottom of the move (basically the sticking point) do it again push HARD! Three seconds then that’s one rep.
Do as many of these as you can and no; you don’t stop when you can no longer lift the weight up; when you can no longer lift the weight up have you spotters lift the weight up for you and you still do the controlled negative portion and it’s isometric contraction portions. You can call it a set when you are not able to lower the weight in a controlled manner anymore. – And if you are an advanced lifter who wants more intensity you can do drop sets after this failure then repeat until you cannot do anymore reps.
Okay that’s that. You can now do your isolation exercise for that body part then you’re done with that part for the day. You can use this technique with almost any compound moves; in fact this is a nice technique to incorporate with your squats; but as with anything you do in the gym: BE EXTRA CAREFULL and do not be stupid and as much as possible pick a spotter who you can trust and you’re comfortable with. Furthermore I don’t recommend doing Omni contractions with deadlifts and behind the neck shoulder press
And there you go! 5 moves that will make your life – A HELL LOT HARDER – but you know what they say, HARDER IS SEXIER! Eat your eggs, A-lifters, you’re gonna need them!