1. Use compound lifts: Utilizing multi-joint movements such as bench presses, pull-ups, rows, shoulder presses, squats and leg presses in your routines will ensure you are hitting more than one muscle with maximum weight. This will help you become efficient in the gym.
2. Rest between one to two minutes between sets: This will allow you to maximize not only your time but also the pump by keeping your muscles filled with blood and properly warm during the workout.
3. Use a weight you can handle: Be sure you are using a weight you have control of. Do not load the bar with so much weight that your training partner is helping on the first rep.
4. Use proper form: Make sure to use good form for each lift not only for safety but for function of your training. If you just throw the weights around you will not target the specific muscle.
5. For the majority of the time use a rep range of 6 to 12: This is the range typically used if muscle mass is what you are after, but strength will come also.
6. Try low reps occasionally: Every now and then try a rep range of 4 to 6 or maybe even throw some singles, doubles and triples in there to mix things up. But remember to use good form.
7. Try high reps occasionally: High reps can sometimes kick-start a lagging body part. Maybe try a high rep set or two at the end of a series of sets. Go as high as 20, 30, or even 50!
8. Train more frequently: For about four weeks or so train each body part twice per week instead of the usual once. You may need to reduce the volume a little but the change will be welcomed.
9. Train less frequently: The same holds true for those training each body part twice per week. Cut back to once per week every now and then and double up on your volume.
10. Try doing drop sets for stubborn body parts: Sometimes all you need is a kick in a certain area’s butt to get things going again. Use this technique on the last one or two sets of a movement. Perform a set as you would normally do it, then strip some weight off and continue with your reps and you can strip the weight several times before the muscle is toast!
11. Use antagonistic supersets: This is the old technique Arnold used quite often. Superset chest with back, triceps with biceps, and quadriceps with hamstrings. For example; perform a set of bench presses and then without rest move over to pull-ups for a set. Alternate like this until you have completed all of your sets. You will not only save time but you will have a skin-tearing pump!
12. Once per month do an all negative workout: Reap the benefit of this intense technique by utilizing safe, but effective negative training. Have your partner help you up with a weight you cannot normally do for many reps then lower the weight slowly to resist the negative motion. Make sure to use a spotter, but if none is available use unilateral movements such as one-arm preacher curls, one-legged leg press and machine shoulder presses.
13. Rest/pause for the big lifts: This technique is great for the “big lifts” such as bench presses (all angles), leg presses, shoulder presses, and arm curls. Load a bar with a little more weight than you can handle for your normal rep range. Perform a set of 2 to 4 reps then rack the weight for 5 to 15 seconds. Perform 2 to 4 more reps and rack it again. Once more and you are done. One or two series like this is all you need for a particular movement. A smith machine can be your best friend at times like this.
14. Use forced reps sparingly: It is fine to use forced reps on the last couple of reps of your last set, but try not to attempt them on every single set for countless reps. Lift a weight you can handle with good form then after you have met failure have your partner help a little with one or two more reps.
15. Blast through weak points with compound supersets: A compound superset is when two sets are done back to back with different movements but for the same body part. This is a brutal way to “wake up” more muscle fibers to get it to react.
16. Use these intensity techniques sparingly: The last thing you want to do is run into the overtraining state. Use them once per week and one at a time.
17. Hydrate: Drink plenty of water while you train. We lose an enormous amount of fluid during training and it must be replaced if building a better physique is our goal.
18. Set a time limit: Some days you may feel like you drag in the gym. Try to get your whole workout in say an hour. This will prevent you from too much lag time and more productivity while training.
19. Simplify: If you find yourself using every technique in the book, scale back and do straight sets of compound lifts keeping it simple for a few weeks.
20. Take off: Sometimes what everyone needs is a little well-deserved rest away from the gym to help recharge our “batteries.” After a few days away you will be ready to get back at it with a brand new attitude and muscle pump!
Written by : Brad Borland, MA, CSCS
Photography credit: Alpha Design Photography