There are a few more technique tweaks to help you build a massive physique. I use the term "more" because fitFLEX has covered some specific exercise-performance modifications in previous health and fitness articles
in our article library.
Get in touch
Most trainees warm up by doing a rapid, light set or two of an exercise in their routine, but it's much better to slow down and get in touch with the target muscles during those sets before you pack on the
poundage. Keep in mind that you're not just warming up your muscles and joints, but you're also warming up your mind, so focus during your warmups. For example, if you're warming up for bench presses with a
lightweight, try to feel your pectoral muscles working during both the positive and negative phases of the movement.
You can even flex your pecs at the top of each rep in order to increase the mind/muscle link. In addition, flex and actually touch your pecs between warmup sets in order to send a strong signal to your brain
that it's your pecs that should bear the brunt of the work load.
On some exercises one small area of the range of motion is of utmost importance; for example, the bottom, or stretch, position of an incline dumbbell curl. At that point you have the ability to involve more
muscle fibers if you use a quick twitch. At the moment when any muscle reaches this stretched, or elongated, state, it becomes possible to involve more fibers. You don't get this stretch during, say, standing
barbell curls, because your upper arm isn't pulled back past your torso.
So what would happen if you emphasized the stretch portion of certain exercises, like incline dumbbell curls, with 1 1/4 reps? You'd up your intensity. Curl the 'bells only one-fourth of the way up out of
the stretch position, then lower them all the way down for a quick fiber- engaging twitch before you continue with a full rep. Use this 1 1/4 technique on other stretch-position exercises-such as sissy squats,
overhead triceps extensions and donkey calf raises-for the same fiber-engaging effect, but note that you'll have to lower your poundage.
Contraction action and reaction
While the stretch position of certain movements such as incline dumbbell curls is very important, as mentioned above, in other movements the contracted position is crucial. These are exercises that have resistance
at the top of the range of motion leg extensions, leg curls, concentration curls and kickbacks, for example, as opposed to squats, bench presses and barbell curls, on which there is no resistance at the top.
For more intensity on your peak contraction exercises try 1 1/4 reps at the top of the range of motion. For example, on leg extensions extend into the fully contracted position, lower the weight one-quarter of
the way down and then fire it back up into the contracted position for an intense flex before you lower all the way down. That counts as one 1 1/4 peak-contraction rep. Once again, you'll have to lower your poundage
when you use this technique, but you'll up your intensity immensely and get a tremendous pump.
No pause; keep moving
Just as there are exercises on which you should emphasize certain areas of the range of motion-as in the bottom, or stretch, position of an incline curl and the top, or contracted, position of a concentration curl
there are other movements during which you should de-emphasize a certain point in each rep; that is, you should de-emphasize the point at which you can rest the target bodypart. For example, because of the nature
of the exercise, squats allow you to rest at the top, or lockout, position. This takes stress off your quads. When you hit the top position, therefore, you should immediately begin your descent into the next
rep to prevent your quads from resting. The same holds true for bench presses, overhead presses, standing curls, lying or overhead triceps extensions and any other exercise that enables you to take a lockout rest.
Slow-motion to grow
Sometimes you just can't feel the target muscle contracting during a regular set of eight reps even after the concentrated warmup mentioned in item 1 above. In that case you have to take some drastic measures like
slow-motion training, which is definitely a drastic-and painful-technique. While you perform the negative phase of each rep at regular speed, or two seconds, you exaggerate the positive phase, making it last eight
to 10 seconds. If you've had trouble getting that mind/muscle link, a slow motion set or two should solve the problem with a burn you won't believe.
Many trainers tell their clients to slow down during the lowering, or negative, part of each repetition. When you analyze this advice, however, it doesn't make much sense. Your muscles are more than 20 percent stronger
during the negative, or eccentric, phase of a movement, which means that when the weight is perfect for positives during a regular set, it's way too light to do you any good in the negative phase. Even at the end of a
set, when your positive strength is gone, you can still do several more negative-only movements.
That doesn't mean, however, that you should drop the weight on every rep because it's too light during the negative stroke. It's just that there's no need to exaggerate the negative. A two-second positive and two-second
negative is perfect for most exercises. If you want to work the eccentric part of an exercise, up your weight by 20 percent and do negative-only reps for one set. Be careful with this technique, however, because it will
make you sore.
More rest, more strength
For years bodybuilders have been preaching the benefits of decreasing the rest time between sets, but recently it's come to light that this technique doesn't allow enough lactic acid to dissipate in the target muscles
to make the next set as beneficial as possible. A 1 1/2-to- two-minute rest seems to be about right for most exercises. Sure, your workouts will be extended somewhat, but the size and strength you gain will be worth it.