Advanced bodybuilding training techniques, like set extension techniques, are applied on an occasional basis by the advanced bodybuilder to introduce variety into the bodybuilding routine in order to further stimulate muscle growth.
The purpose of such bodybuilding techniques is to take the muscle beyond the point of failure. Muscular failure is the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible and also the point that stimulates the muscle to grow.
Most of these advanced bodybuilding training techniques should only be used sparingly; do not use them on every workout or else you risk overtraining and/or injury. Supersets, tri-sets and giant-sets however are the exception to this rule and can be used on every workout.
Advanced Bodybuilding Training Techniques
1) Forced Reps:
Once muscular failure (the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible) is reached, have your partner gently put his hands under the bar and give only enough assistance to enable you to keep the bar moving slowly and steadily. Limit the number of forced repetitions to two.
This principle allows you to do two repetitions that otherwise you would not have been able to get. These extra repetitions after failure serve as additional stimulus for muscle growth.
This technique is very hard on the joints and for this reason should only be used sparingly. Also, you need a good spotter to help you with the bar. This is not a technique that you can use for most exercises if you train alone.
2) Rest Pause Principle:
Once failure is reached, let the bar (or dumbbells) rest on the rack for ten seconds in order to regain some strength. Then grab the bar (or dumbbells) and do 1 or 2 extra reps (or whatever strength allows). Repeat this process one more time and this will be the end of the set.
This technique can be used by a person training alone especially if dumbbells are being used. Also, this technique is not nearly as taxing on the joints as forced reps are since here you are lifting the weight using your own strength. Therefore, it can be used more often.
None that I can think of.
3) Negative Reps:
Once failure is reached and you are at the top portion of the movement, as in the top portion of a bench press (at the locked position), go ahead and resist the weight through the negative portion of the movement.
The lowering of the bar to your chest in a bench press is the negative portion of that movement.
This technique has been shown to yield good increases in strength.
You cannot use this technique safely in all free weight exercises. For example, I would not use this technique on a barbell Squat or on a barbell bench press. This technique however is great for dumbbell exercises and machines. As a result, I would use it for the dumbbell version of the aforementioned exercises.
Finally, this is not a good technique to be used all the time since the probability of tearing your muscles is pretty high due to the fact that you are resisting the weight in the opposite direction that the muscles were designed to move it.
4) Descending Sets:
Once failure is reached lower the weight and keep doing as many repetitions as possible. Then, once you hit failure again, lower the weight one last time and keep getting repetitions until you reach failure for the last time.
This is a good technique for people without training partners especially if dumbbells are being used. When training at home, I like to use my Powerblocks
for doing descending sets since it is so easy to change their weight.
What I love about descending sets is that this technique is really useful for hitting all the muscle fiber types in the muscle group being worked. I personally love using it for calves and biceps and it works really well on machine exercises where all you have to do is change the pin, such as: Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Triceps Pushdowns, Lat Pulldowns, Low Pulley Rows, Calf Raise, etc. You can use this technique more often than the ones we have presented already.
If training alone, it is best not to use it on barbell exercises since it would take too long to lower the weight and this negates some of the effects of the technique. The least amount of time it takes you to lower the weight and start again, the better it is. Ideally, this should happen within 3 seconds.