Are You Experienced? Use These Advanced Training Techniques
A careful sampling of advanced techniques is what separates beginners from intermediates.
By Hidetada Yamagishi, IFBB Pro, Photography by Paul Buceta; Model: IFBB Pro Hidetada Yamagishi
[Q] I’ve been doing straight-sets training for a while now and I think my body is getting used to it. How do I know if I’m ready to start using more advanced techniques?
[A] Without knowing exactly how long you’ve been training, I can’t be very specific. But basically, advanced techniques like forced reps or drop sets can be used about three months after you’ve started training because that’s when you typically hit a plateau. So if you feel like you need something changed ⎯ if strength or muscle gains have come to a halt ⎯ then advanced techniques may be good for you to try. Forced reps, where you have a training partner help you through a few additional reps after hitting initial failure, are a good place to start as long as you don’t overdo them.
[Q] I added 10 pounds of muscle over the last few months and I want to start working on detail, particularly for my legs. What’s a good way to shock my quads and hams?
[A] If you want good separation between your quadriceps and hamstrings, first make sure that you’re concentrating and that you’re really feeling the weight on each rep. That’s how you’ll create more detail. If you lift with explosive contractions, you won’t really feel the muscle ⎯ just the weight. You’ll get bigger but not necessarily better separation. For legs, I like using high repetitions or drop sets to fully engage and fatigue the muscles. I try to do more than 15 reps per set so that I feel the burn. Plus, higher-rep training for legs helps to burn through more glycogen ⎯ stored sugars in the muscle ⎯ and total calories to help you get leaner overall.
[Q] My shoulders simply won’t grow. I can never get them sore! What’s your most effective advanced technique for training delts?
[A] My opinion is that the delts are more like the endurance muscles you see with calves or forearms and that they can handle more reps. Some guys who are really gifted can do heavy barbell or dumbbell presses and just grow easily. I used to have problems growing from that kind of training, so I tried giant sets (where you combine 4–5 exercises and complete them consecutively with no rest between). It’s really intense and you’ll feel a killer pump on your shoulders. That’s how I got them to grow. I’ll do a giant set with dumbbell lateral raises, dumbbell shoulder presses, upright rows and bent-over lateral raises in which I do 10 reps for each exercise, or 40 reps total. I like doing 2–3 giant sets like this. If your shoulders aren’t responding from heavy training, this type of advanced supersetting will really work; I guarantee it.
[Q] What’s the best way to get a good pump on my arms? Supersets? Extended sets? What’s your favorite technique?
[A] Biceps and triceps supersets, in which you alternate biceps and triceps exercises without rest, work really well. A good, basic superset for arms is the barbell curl alternated with the cable triceps pressdown. Bring the barbell to the cable machine so that way you eliminate any rest between sets. This really helps to maximize the blood flow into your arms. A lot of guys have built great arms doing this kind of superset. If you want to get a max pump, you should try a nitric oxide supplement before training. I recommend SuperPump250 by Gaspari Nutrition.
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Perform a regular set to failure, and then have a training partner help you get 2–3 additional reps with his assistance.
“I pretty much do these every time I exercise with my training partner. This is my favorite advanced technique because it places great overload on the muscle and helps you train safely past failure.”
Perform a regular set to failure, then immediately reduce the weight by about 25% and continue performing reps to a second point of failure.
In a regular set, stop several reps short of failure, rest just 10–20 seconds, and then continue this sequence for several segments of work.
Rest-Pause Drop Set:
A combination of two techniques above, in which you reduce the weight after initial failure but reduce rest to about 10 seconds before continuing to failure again.
>> Hide says:
“I like this hybrid technique for bench press. I’ll load three plates on each side. Then, when I feel I’m hitting failure, I rack it for 10 seconds, remove a plate from each side, then try for a few more reps. Then I hit failure again, strip the weight and do it again. I usually do this on the last set of each exercise for a maximum pump and to build greater muscular detail. But because you’re training past failure, it also triggers new growth.”