As touched upon in my article Gym Workout Upgrade Options, introducing "advanced" training techniques is a favorite of mine to increase workout intensity and ward off lackluster weight training sessions. During their gym workout, you may've heard people in the gym refer to superset's, 21's, tri-sets, giant sets, drop sets, high reps, super-slow reps etc. Read on to find out what these are and how to use them effectively.
"Advanced" techniques are commonplace in many advanced athletes training regimes, but can be put to equally good use in yours (on the proviso you're ready for them!). These advanced weight training techniques can be factored in to a gym workout or used intuitively. I say used "intuitively" as many will not deviate from a set workout routine, even when factors (psychological or otherwise) may be preventing them from performing at their best. Although I may have a workout plan when training a top athlete or myself, sometimes, if things aren't going quite right, rather than make do, spicing up a workout with the introduction of something new can gee up a trainer and serve to shock the body in a new way. A great example is not being able to lift as much weight as your previous session, simply drop the weights, increase the reps, or perform reps super-slow. The only limitation on your workouts is you! HOWEVER, you should be very mindful of certain things, reading my article Gym Workout Rules of Thumb is a good place to start.
So, let's cover some advanced training techniques...
21’s – Three exercises of seven reps in a row. Most often used for three headed muscle groups, such as shoulders – Front Raises, Lateral Raise, Bent-Over Lateral Raise.
Bulk Sets – Three sets of five reps.
Cheat Reps – Using less strict form to lift a heavier weight. Not generally recommended!
Controlled Reps – Slowing down the tempo of reps using muscle control. I recommend giving this a go!
Forced Reps – Achieving more reps with the assistance of a Spotter.
Giant Sets – Four exercises in a row without rest in-between. Here's an "old-school" example for shoulders: "Old-School" Shoulders Workout
High-Reps – Performing an unusually large associated number of reps for a discipline. For example, a bodybuilder opting to perform 20 rep Squats or Incline Bench Press.
Low-Reps – Performing a low number of repetitions. Commonly only used for powerlifting training – less than 5 reps.
Drop Sets – At point of failure drop weight and continue with more reps - you can do this several times during the same set. This works well with almost any exercise - particularly compound exercises.
Negatives – Lowering a weight slowly greater than you can lift (i.e. 5% greater than your 1RM). Spotter required.
Globe Gripz - A multi-grip spherical device that attaches to barbells, dumbbells, cable handles etc. (basically, anything in the gym). It's great for changing-up your grip to make an individual exercise more difficult or put to great use during a multi-set. Watch our giant-set example for arms on the video link here: Globe Gripz Review
Post-Exhaust – A compound exercise followed by an isolation exercise, such as Chin-Ups supersetted with Stiff-Arm Pulldowns.
Pre-Exhaust – An isolation exercise followed by a compound exercise. For example, Leg Extensions supersetted with Barbell Squats.
Super-Slow Reps – Pausing at the mid-point of a movement, such as pausing at the bottom when performing Squats. Typically, you would not lock out at the top of the movement either (i.e. do not lock out knees).
Supersets – Two exercises in a row with no rest in-between. These can be opposing muscles or the same muscle (pre-exhaust or post-exhaust).
Tri-Sets – Three exercises in a row without rest in-between. Here's a good example for Triceps: Tri-Set Triceps Workout
These advanced training methods are used to best effect in the workouts provided in my acclaimed bestseller Gym Workouts: Maps to Success which features tried and tested gym workouts as used by some of the world's best physique athletes. Importantly, the workouts in this book indicate at what stage of your training to best use advanced techniques and how to use them effectively. You can now also download our gym workout app (for free!), which features many of the multi-set examples given above amongst some of the more "advanced" gym workout routines. You can also check out the Gym Professor YouTube Channel for some of our favourite multi-set examples.
Right, back to the gym :)