In principle, there are several variants to intensify your training. The most widely-known are the increase of the weight or the number of repetitions. One can divide intensive techniques into three variants: The intensification of a exercise, the coupling of different sets and the optimization of the training units. These methods are quasi independent and can be combined at will. Pay attention that some training techniques are very intensive and require, accordingly, sufficient regeneration. These intensive techniques are not for beginners and are to be used by experienced athletes only. You need a motivating training partner or a strong will, in order to be able to implement these intensity techniques. They are much exerting. A lighter pain with intensity techniques in the muscle is quite normal and even desired. Pain in joints or chords however, is not normal and you should stop training that bodypart as long as the pain persists. If you have muscular strain, you should not train the muscle concerned and/or only very easily. Its growth is no longer promoted and the risk for serious injuries rises. The intensity rises proportionally with the weight and the repetitions. Train accordingly – always heavy weights or many repetitions.
Methods for each repetition
Normal reps are 4/2/4 according to the book. 4’’ positive, 2’’ hold 4’’ negative. In reality, any other variation of rep speed can be used. Generally speaking, the negative part of the movement should always be slower than the positive part. The holding part is desired, although rarely done, as it works only that part of the muscle isotonically, which is used at that moment. Remember to control the weight, never let the weight control you.
Intense reps + / I
Intense reps are also called forced reps. Do as many reps in correct form as you can. Use your workout partner to help you finish two or three more reps. Your partner should only help you a bit where you’re really stuck. There is no sense for your workout that he holds the whole weight for you.
Pseudo negative reps ± / n
With the intense reps you can also train the negative phase of your movement. Your partner can either increase the negative load by pushing on the weight, or decrease the load by helping during the positive phase. It’s important to control the weight all the time, in a slow controlled movement. If you’re not able to lower the weight correctly, you have to stop the set immediately, as the danger of injury increases when your muscle is exhausted.
Negative reps – / N
Negative reps are done with 110% of the theoretical maximum weight. Your workout partner should help you only with the positive part of the movement; the lowering has to be done all by you. The difference between the negative reps and the pseudo negative intense reps is that you start here with a weight you would never be able to lift yourself alone. If you’re not able to lower the weight correctly and slowly you have to stop your set immediately.
Partial reps È / T
After the failure of the muscle you continue in the stronger partial movement of the muscle. The strongest part is usually “in the middle” of the movement. The complete movement is split up in partial movements and the strongest part is worked out longer and heavier. Ideally you work the part of the movement where you feel the most force.
Multiple endcontraction reps 2 3 4 5 … / M
Multiple continuous flexing without any big movement at the point of maximal force in flexion or extension. The point of the maximal force is not necessarily the endpoint of the movement. The more final contractions you can make, the more intense the rep will be. The highest activation is in the beginning of the pull-movement and at the end of the pushing contraction.
Stutter reps s / S
Stutter reps divide the whole movement in small increments. These reps involve constant controlled shaking. Ideally, those steps are small, but 8 to 12 partial reps are usually enough. Can be intensified with multiple final contraction reps.
Methods for series
Reduction sets æ / R
Reduction sets are based on the immediate reduction of the work weight by 30% without a break. Usually the weight is reduced again by 30% to do the final reps. (70% of 70% are 49%, so around half of your initial weight). Do as many reps as you did during the first set in every additional reduction set.
Extended sets zz / E
Extended sets are also called prolonged sets. The muscle is worked out due to muscle failure. Then you rest up to 30 seconds and add as much reps as you can using the same weight.
21-s are a method known mostly from biceps workouts, but it can be done with any other muscle. First, the whole movement is split into two motions. The first seven reps are in the upper half of the movement range, the next seven reps in the lower half and the last seven reps are the full range of motion. There is no break between those sets of seven reps. the last seven reps have to be done properly. If not, the weight must be decreased.
Supers low λ / L
Supers low is a concept which claims not to generate lactate in the muscle. It’s done 5’’ positively, and 10’’ negatively. Work out for 4 to 8 reps.
Joined sets & / B
Joined sets are sets of exercises for the same muscle, but without any long break in between the exercises. The change shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds. Use different angles for maximal exhaustion of your muscles.
Pre-fatiguing x / V
Pre-fatiguing causes big muscles’ fatigue by specific isolated movements. So you first do an exercise that isolates the strong muscle, then you change for an exercise with a combined movement. Then the intensity with the combined movement increases. The small muscles are faster exhausted than the big ones.
Supersets « / SS
Supersets are also called agonist-antagonist-workout. Two counter-movement muscle groups are worked out, weaved into each other without a break between the sets. E.g. shoulders and top-bottom back or bench press and horizontal rowing. The passive stretch of the agonist helps to recover the antagonist. It’s not a classical intensity technique, but it saves time and is very exhaustive for the cardiovascular system.
Interflexing sets Ω / P
Interflexing sets consist in 15’’ to 30’’ of posing between the sets. For advanced athletes the contraction can be increased up to two minutes before continuing the set without any further break. The flexion can be done either by flexing or by pushing against an unbreakable resistance (e.g. wall).
Countdown sets ç / C
Countdown sets are done with 50% of the maximal weight. The first rep is 8’’ negative and 8’’ positive, the second 7’’ and 7’’, the third 6’’ and 6’’. This is continued until every rep lasts only 1 second and now you add as much reps as you can. If you can do more than 8 single fast final reps, increase the weight.
Countdown endcontraction sets çw / Cw
The first rep has 8 partial final contractions, the second 7 and so on. When you’ve finished with the final contractions, do as many reps as you can.
Countdown stutter sets çs / Cs
Stutter countdown sets are very intense. Instead of slow movement, the countdown is performed by stuttering. The first rep has 8 partial stutter movements, the second 7 and so on.
First the weight is chosen around 50% of the intended workout weight. Then it’s increased in steps and finally decreased (50%‑70%‑100%‑70%‑50%). Those changes in weight should follow an adaptation in the number of reps you perform. Pyramidal sets can also be done only increasingly, or decreasingly.
Cheating D / A
Cheating is done only after having made a couple of correct reps with the correct weight. As soon the muscle gets weaker you add some auxiliary musculature to help the tired muscle to do two to three final reps. cheating is not meant for loading heavier loads. It should be used only when the muscle is weakened.
With 4×4’’+8 you do first 4 reps with 4 sec positive and 4 sec negative movement. Finish this set with 8 fast but controlled movements. This is a variant to 8-12 reps.
Methods for workout units
Instead of working out your body every time, a split training offers the opportunity to work out a body part more intensely each workout but also allowing enough time to regenerate. There are different splits trainings. It has to be noted that arms, shoulders, neck and the abdominal muscles regenerate in two days, Back, shoulder and chest muscles in three and leg muscles in four days.
This workout is used by most athletes instinctively. The hardest exercise is done first, the more isolated ones follow.
Lot’s of experience is needed and a good feeling of your own body to start instinct training. You work out according to your feeling and signals of your body, without using a strict plan. The danger lies in favoring well developed body parts.
Weak body parts are worked out more often or only on days after a break or at the beginning of the workout.
Most athletes use that workout technique. Every workout you take heavier weights. It’s usually 1%-2% per workout.
To avoid adaptation, you add every now and then a complete switched workout routine. The first exercise of a muscle group is last, the last one will be first. You’re not allowed to take lower weights, only heavier!
Neuromuscular connection is better when only one side has to work. When only one side is activated, one can lift 20% more. Every exercise is done either for the left or right side. It’s not of importance whether you switch left and right after each set, or if you work out only one side per workout.
Instead of doing always the same amount of reps, the amount of reps is switched regularly between the exercises. That way the muscles are used optimally.
Instead of splitting every body part traditionally, every workout includes one exercise per muscle group, but you change them with every workout again.
Special workout routines
Sets are done super slow and every muscle group is worked out only once with three sets and one day of rest.
Hypertrophy Specific Training
The four principles of HST are: mechanical load, acute against chronic stimulus, continuing overload, and strategic deconditioning. Usually you work with 2 week long micro cycles, during which the amount of reps increases from 4-6, 8-12 to 15-25. Beforehand, the correct workout weight is deducted and increased constantly. After 3×2 weeks, a strategic deconditioning follows, done by a one-week break.
This training principle is based on a first super slow rep where you use 70% of your max weight, but you do the rep 60’’ positively and 60’’ negatively, called initial sets. Without a break you continue with another exercise for the same muscle and do reduction sets. Don’t do more than 3 initial sets in a row with reduction sets.
Muscle growth is stimulated by change of the overload. Change exercises, weights, reps and intensity principles at latest every 3-6 weeks, to have constant stress on your musculature and therefore constant growth.