Use these unique training techniques to put your hypertrophy into hyperdrive.
By Eric Broser
If there is one essential lesson that I have learned in my 25-plus years as a competitive bodybuilder, trainer, and contest prep coach, it is that the human body is an incredibly adaptable machine and will rapidly cease to respond to stimuli it is exposed to time and again. This is something that is just built into our physiology and has far greater implications to our very survival than the pursuit of a better physique.
Most people tend to fall into one specific method of training early on and then rarely break this pattern as the years (and workouts) go by. As long as trainees are progressive with the weights and use proper form, this approach will usually manifest some success, at least for the first few of years of training. However, as more time elapses, this one-dimensional system will eventually bring about progressively diminishing returns as far as hypertrophy is concerned and increased levels of frustration. You see, too many misguided lifters use the same exercises, in the same order, with the same tempo, rest between sets, training techniques, and rep ranges, month after month. One of the biggest roadblocks to progress (in anything that we do) often comes down to doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.
In future articles, I will touch upon several different methods of training that I have developed over the years, all of which are meant to keep the body from plateauing and tap into all of the various physiological mechanisms we possess to positively affect muscle growth. In this particular piece I wish to focus my attention on the use of three specific intensity techniques that will provide a powerful stimulus to the target muscle to force new adaptations to take place. And by “adaptations,” I mean “more muscle!”
Intensity Booster #1: Rest/Pause Sets
Although there are actually several versions of this technique floating around the world’s many gyms, I have discovered my own method of rest/pause sets, which does an excellent job of igniting new gains in mass and strength. Once you are warmed up and ready to begin your first all-out set, you should choose a weight that will allow you to reach positive failure between reps seven and nine. At this point you will set the bar down and catch your breath for about 15 seconds. Then, grab the weight and proceed until you once again reach positive failure. Then, you will take a 30-second rest to help recover a final burst of muscular/mental strength, before going to failure again one final time. This is equivalent to one rest/pause set.
Intensity Booster #2: Eccentric Pause Reps
This is a technique I often utilize when looking to bring about some extra muscle-fiber damage and soreness in order to force anabolism to take place. Using the bench press an example, a properly performed eccentric pause rep would go like this: Remove the barbell from the safeties and stabilize your body for pressing the load. Lower the bar about two-thirds of the way down and then hold this position for three full seconds while contracting your pecs. Then, lower the weight down to the chest and forcefully press it back to the top. Repeat this process for about five to seven reps, with the goal of reaching positive muscular failure in that range.
Intensity Booster #3: One And A Half Reps
I love using one and a half reps because they help increase the target muscle’s time under tension, force you to double up on the eccentric contraction, and produce one heck of a monster pump. All of these elements definitely push hypertrophy to new levels. One of my favorite movements to utilize this technique on is the Smith machine incline press. Begin by slowly lowering the bar to your upper chest, just below your clavicle bones. Push back up, but only halfway. Immediately lower the bar once again and then press all the way back to the starting position. That completes a single one and a half rep.
Intensity-Boosted Pec-Punisher Workout
Use these intensity-boosting techniques only once every four weeks for any one muscle. Otheriwise, burnout can occur. Also, make sure to use a spotter with you when necessary.
- Rest-Pause Set: Weighted Dip 2 x 7-9
Perform 7-9 reps; rest 15 seconds, then perform max reps; rest 30 seconds, then do max reps again. Complete that process twice
- One And A Half Reps Set: Smith Machine Incline Press 3 x 7-9
- Eccentric Pause Reps Set: Flat Dumbbell Press 3 x 5-7