Nothing much can be accomplished by going into the gym, day after day, and doing 4 sets of 8 reps, and repeating it throughout 3 different exercises. It’s almost as if you could do that in your sleep. And sleeping through workouts isn’t a good idea. That’s why smart bodybuilders devise plans to shake things up from time to time. Whether that means doing giant sets, super sets or another kind of intensity-boosting endeavor, shaking things up is the name of the game.
But how do you know what to do if you’re a beginner, say, or someone who lacks creativity in this arena because your level of experience is nil? It’s always a good idea to do just what you’re doing – read up on methods that challenge your normal routine. It’s also great to ask people who have physiques that you’d like to emulate, what it is that they did along the way to achieve that look.
Techniques that boost intensity are typically unpleasant and are not meant to be done on a regular basis. If done on a regular basis, (the likes of which you’ll find below) overtraining will be the sure result. Use a technique (like these) just once every week or two to stimulate growth and activity within the muscle that would not be otherwise stimulated.
10 x10’s are a great way to begin with intensity-stimulating exercises. If you can pass the test on that, you will have graduated to some of the others. Try 21’s second, and do up and down the stack third. You should have been training for at least a year or two prior to doing 100’s.
1. TEN TENS (10-10)
Doing ten sets of 10 may sound like there’s nothing to it, but it’s a deceiving practice – particularly if you are squatting, benching or deadlifting. Try it out on a more isolative, rather than compound movement, first, so that you know you can handle it. Leg extensions or a back exercise, such as seated row, may be best. Take some rest in between, but not more than a minute or so, because it removes the intensity and idea of it. If you happen to fail before ten, because of the weight you’ve chosen, drop it and begin again. You want to use a weight where you’re not jerking the apparatus up and down and using momentum, but it doesn’t have to be a strict isolative weight either. Try this out with lateral raises for shoulders one day (nothing else beforehand) and let us know how your delts feel!
2. 2 x 100 – Mega Set Madness!
Just as you chose an isolative exercise for the last one, you’ll want to start with that here, too. We’re sure you’d collapse if you tried it with squats. Again, leg extensions are a good choice because you’re sitting down. Seated row, also, for the same reason. You’ll want to choose a weight that you’d probably struggle with at about 20 reps. Once you get to 20 and you feel this kind of struggle, you’ll drop the weight, rest 5-10 seconds, and continue on. Try to get to 40 or 50. Drop the weight again and get to 75 after 10-15 seconds rest. By the time you reach about 75, you’ll either feel like puking or you’ll want to murder an entire town! I know I’m cleaning my gun just thinking about it! But you must push yourself to reach that almighty 100. Now, once you get there, you may or may not be considering ever trying that again. I know the first time I did squats (no weight) in the squat cage, hanging on to the bars on either side, I couldn’t believe how challenging it was. And I didn’t stop and rest – just went to 100. I felt like I couldn’t walk again. But it’s a great pre-contest ripper and off season growth inspirer. If you won’t concede to getting back in the saddle after the first set, get back in the saddle with a different body part and exercise and do the whole thing again!
3. Twenty Ones…
I know a lot of guys are familiar with this one from barbell curls, and use it faithfully as a great tool for stimulating growth and development within every inch of their biceps. It’s actually one of the greats. But have you ever tried doing it in any other context and in any other exercise? Try leg extensions with 7 reps in the top of the range, 7 reps in the bottom of the range (sitting forward and propping yourself up closer to the edge) and 7 full reps at the end. So this with triceps extensions on a rope, or do it with lying dumbbell presses. It’s a great way to stimulate all of the connective muscle and tendon surrounding an insertion point and also a great way to start learning how to gain control of free weights.
4. Ulti-Pyramid (Up and Down the Entire Stack)
Choose an exercise which uses a machine weight stack, such as lat pulldowns, seated row or triceps presses. Set it on a very light weight (around one third of your normal weight) and get 5 reps. Begin increasing the weight by one plate and get another 5 reps, then increase by one plate again, and get another 5 reps. When you get to the bottom of the stack, or close to it, rest for 10-20 seconds. It will become harder and harder to get the 5 reps. You have to keep going until you cannot reach your 5, and then take your rest. Then begin by descending in weight. Drop the weight one plate at a time. Every other plate or every third plate, take 10 seconds rest. Once you’re back to where you started, you’ll be slowly but surely each attempt at 5 reps will get harder and harder. You must keep doing this until you fail to reach the 5 rep target. This may take around eight increases in weight. You then start dropping the weight by one plate at a time, rest 10 seconds, get 5 reps, then drop the weight again until you are back to where you stared. Nice!