Q: I noticed that you used to use a lot of machines and do a last partial rep, then a static hold, then a slow negative. Do you still do that, and how does it increase strength and muscular development?
A: I followed that practice for years; however, after a discussion with Dr. Ralph Carpinelli, I only use it occasionally now.
It appears that you can recruit most of the motor units for a muscle group by taking the exercise to about 85 to 90 percent effort. If you’ve gone to muscular failure’you’ve done your last rep’then you have fatigued muscle fibers about as well as you’re going to. I always thought that if I just stopped at muscular failure, then perhaps I had only done 70 percent of the job and that doing a partial rep, a static contraction and a slow negative gave me 20 to 25 percent more.
While I didn’t find that style of training particularly painful or in any way aversive, it contributed a lot to immediate and long-term regional and systemic fatigue. If such a stressor doesn’t seem to add anything and is really a negative as far as recovery, why do it?
A simpler approach is to train to fatigue and concentrate on using great form and making small gains over long periods of time.
Once I dropped the overkill tactics, I found that I recovered much more quickly from a workout. Reducing unnecessary stressors is fundamental; it can enable you to train more effectively and perhaps more frequently.