You hit the gym weekly, progress on the weights, and push sets for as many reps as possible. The grind can take time, but we all know the results are work.
But there are times when the same route can be tedious. If you’re looking for a way to break the monotony of your training routine, you might want to try something new this weekend. This article provides some ideas for things to do that will keep you entertained while working out with friends.
If you’re feeling stuck in your training routine or need a burst of energy, try out one of these nine ways to boost your workouts to the next level.
#1 - Power Position Burn-Out Reps
Most exercises have a power position, a certain fraction of the range of motion closest to the lockout portion of the lift that feels easier. For example, it is much easier to perform reps when you only lower the bar a third or half of the way down during bench press. This is referred to as your power/leverage position and is not nearly as hard as pressing the bar off your chest.
We will perform five full range of motion reps to destroy this muscle effectively. After this point, you will be switching to power position reps. Smash your five full range of motion reps and immediately start performing partial power position reps until failure.
This training style uses a different approach to fatiguing the muscle before you work it. It prepares you by slightly weakening the muscle beforehand so you can push it hard from the start and then use a partial range of motion to tire it out.
Make sure you have someone to spot you or use a power rack with the catch pins appropriately set in case of failure. This will help you do more top-half reps than you think, and fatigue will sneak up on you unexpectedly.
#2 - Accelerating Rep Speed Sets
Using a different rep speed between sets will help you achieve your goal of muscle gains. Starting with slow reps and gradually transitioning to faster reps will allow you to reach your optimum muscle growth rate.
- Rep 1 – Performed with a 5-second concentric and eccentric rep speed.
- Rep 2 – Performed with a 4-second concentric and eccentric rep speed.
- Rep 3 – Performed with a 3-second concentric and eccentric rep speed.
- Rep 4 – Performed with a 2-second concentric and eccentric rep speed.
- Reps 5+ are performed with a natural rep cadence.
Completing high-intensity muscle contractions becomes more complex and slower as your muscles grow tired. This allows you to focus more on the contraction right out of the gate when you are fresh, and transition over to raw and powerful reps as the pain starts to set in.
You can speed up your repetitions on nearly any exercise without focusing on the posterior chain, such as squats and deadlifts. You may increase the weight for this movement when you can complete all three sets of 10+ reps with the given weight.
When using accelerated set speed sets, you will likely find that they are more enjoyable and motivating than sets with the same tempo for every rep. I simply find I am more motivated to push myself harder when utilizing this approach.
#3 - Flip the Switch Reps
While lifting, you can use reps’ flip switches to increase the intensity and tempo of their sets. For the first five repetitions, the speed at which they raise will be 3 seconds concentrically and 3 seconds eccentrically.
After completing six reps, you should perform an opposite motion, using a concentric effort, and raise back to the starting position in 3 seconds.
- Reps 1 to 5 – 3 second concentric speed, natural eccentric speed.
- Reps 6 plus – Natural concentric rate, 3-second eccentric speed.
If you can consistently perform ten or more reps on each of the three sets, it is time to add weight to the bar.
Like me, you’ll get sick of using controlled concentric speed by flipping the switch in the middle of a set. This allows you to more explosively drive home reps as you approach muscle failure while also experiencing DOMS-inducing slow negatives.
It is not recommended to do this protocol during movements such as squats and deadlifts, as there is no need to.
#4 - Pause Rep Your Big Hitters
Paused reps are an effective way to damage your body and ruin your training progress. They can also increase the intensity of bench press, back training, overhead press training, etc.
Pausing between a movement’s eccentric and concentric phases allows for more muscle activation. This subtle modification can lead to increased strength and muscle growth.
Some recommended ways to pause your reps and increase your set intensity are by taking a short break after each set or increasing the intensity of each rep.
Squats – To ensure tightness and proper form, pause your reps for a 1-2 second count before starting each set. This will help reduce the chances of Sloppiness placing extra strain on your lower back.
Bench Press – Begin by lowering the barbell to your chest, and pause for one second while maintaining tension. This will help reduce your lift’s momentum, allow you to use more muscle fibers, and make each rep more difficult.
Overhead Press – Pause the bar for 2 seconds on the chest before initiating each rep.
Calf Raises – Pause each rep at peak contraction for 1-2 seconds.
Seated Cable Rows & V-Bar Pull Downs – Pause each rep at your torso for a 1-2 second count.
Paused reps can be added to virtually any existing set and rep scheme but should be avoided if the goal is to achieve muscle soreness.
#5 - Mid-Rep 1-2 Second Pauses
Mid-rep pauses help you hit the stall button during the middle of a rep, which avoids pushing the barbell up. If this does not feel hard enough, you could add a second pause during the eccentric phase of each rep.
When a mid-rep pause is taken, the movement’s momentum is greatly diminished. This makes each set feel much more complex and taxing on the muscles.
One potential issue with pausing during exercises like squats is that it can interfere with proper form.
If you attempt this approach, I recommend starting with fewer sets per exercise and gradually increasing the number as you get a better sense of mid-rep pauses.
#6 - 3 Second Pause Between Reps
This style of paused reps has you pausing for 3 seconds after each rep and not in the middle.
Static holds are beneficial because they require a muscle to contract hard to help maintain balance, grip, and other physical functions. This means that you will be working the muscle harder than if you were just performing regular reps, increasing strength and overall fitness.
Pausing between repetitions can help to improve performance and recovery. For example, paused squats allow for a mini-recovery period.
The barbell can be a tough weight to hold for an extended period. Pausing between sets can help you perform more reps, but it’s essential to be careful not to overdo it. You might feel physically exhausted after each set if you pause for 3 seconds.
Pausing between reps, in a sense, is like doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You go all out, rest and repeat. And once you finished that first prolonged set, you might not want a second or third set. So while working as long as possible, you will be working harder.
Deadlifts are a brutal training method, but they can be very effective for developing strength and muscle mass. Let’s look at an example to see how this technique can work.
Deadlift Example – After locking out each rep, you will hold the position for 3 seconds. This will allow some muscle recovery between reps, and it will also let you take a small breath. Your traps are fighting hard to keep your arms attached to your body while doing this.
The current period of heightened political tension is an excellent opportunity for trap music to grow without detracting from the overall impact of the movement.
#7 - Ramp the Stack Quints
Perform five reps with the lightest weight on the stack, then move up to the next heaviest weight and knock out five more reps. Continue this pattern until you can no longer perform five reps with a given weight.
This training style might lead to more than 50, 60, or even 100 total reps in a set. It’s sure to be fun!
Stack training is a popular style of training that can be used as a muscle finisher. I would not recommend starting your workout with machine exercises unless you are currently on some sort of light/non-linear periodization week.
After starting your workout with a heavy movement, follow it up with a training tactic to help increase growth. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can continue to use the machine stack in weight increments until your heaviest weight.
If you struggle to complete five reps at the end of a set, it may be helpful to either rest or go back in weight.
#8 - Bodyweight Massive Supersets
Bodyweight exercises, in general, sound easy on paper, even with supersets. Not so fast.
Performing a conventional compound exercise set of 6 to 12 repetitions followed by a bodyweight movement that is similar in movement can allow for significant hypertrophy.
Here are some exercise pairings that work well together:
- Bench presses and push-ups
- Barbell rows and pull-ups
- Squats and bodyweight lunges or jump squats
- Overhead presses and pike push-ups
- Barbell curls and chin-ups (palms towards face)
- Close grip bench presses and dips
- Deadlifts and hyperextension
- Weighted sit-ups and planks
- Seated calf raises and jumps squats
This superset should be taken to failure or at least the point where your conditioning is broken down. Try starting with two supersets at first if you can go for a third.
#9 - Pre-Fatigue Burn Set
Pre-fatigue exercises are a type of training usually with a lifter targeting a muscle group with several sets of isolated movements before moving on to a compound exercise. The purpose of pre-fatigue exercises is to allow the muscles to recover so they can be worked more intensely later in the workout.
This type of pre-fatigue work in this section is more demanding. Rather than starting with an isolation exercise, you will begin each training session with a burn set designed to fatigue you beforehand. Pick an isolated exercise you could perform about 20 reps maximum, then proceed to do 40 total rest-pause reps. Rest as needed (only briefly), but get to 40 total reps as quickly as possible.
You then move on to your primary compound exercise to complete the initial burn set. Here are some pairings that will help you succeed: Once the initial burn set is finished, you move on to your primary compound exercise. Some pairing recommendations include:
- Leg extensions and squats
- Pec deck and bench press
- Skullcrushers and close grip bench presses
- Machine pullovers and barbell rows
- Leg curls and stiff leg deadlifts
- Side lateral raises and military presses
If you plan on performing multiple sets of a compound exercise, it is advisable to perform a burn set before the main set. This will help increase your intensity and prepare your muscles for the workout.