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Tips of the week Increase your intensity with these 6 techniques

Tipps der Woche Steigere Deine Intensität mit diesen 6 Techniken

1 - Straight sets to muscle failure

One of the most basic ways to increase intensity is to train to concentric muscle failure. In other words, you continue each set until you can no longer exert enough force to move the weight. This is harder than most people train, but I don't think it's so demanding that you'll get into a state of overtraining if you do more than one set. You can do two sets of an exercise and occasionally three sets in this way.

2 - Rest-pause

The term "rest-pause" is used in different ways in different contexts. The basic idea is that you extend a set by resting between sets, during which you allow your muscles to recover. Trainers have found different ways to use this technique.

I use triple rest-pause sets no more than once per exercise. The whole thing works as follows: You perform a set to concentric muscle failure, place the weight in the rack, pause for 20 to 30 seconds and then perform another set to muscle failure. Then put the weight down again, pause and perform a final set to muscle failure.

You can perform triple rest-pause sets for almost any exercise. The only exceptions are heavy basic exercises with an intense load on the lower back such as squats and deadlifts. Training (repeatedly) to muscle failure can lead to the use of poor exercise execution form, which can be dangerous. A three rest-pause set per exercise is plenty and should not be exceeded.

3 - Isometric hold

After completing your last repetition of a set, hold the weight in the contracted position for as long as you can. This is safe, effective and gives your sleepy motor units a loud wake-up call.

Isometric holds work best on exercises where the muscles are under tension in the contracted position. For example, it is really hard to hold the top position of a pull-up, which is also the reason why this exercise is very suitable for isometric holds. With other exercises such as presses and curls, on the other hand, you can hold the weight in the highest position for a long time. If you want to use isometric holds for these exercises, you should lower the weight slightly to increase the tension.

Use this technique with caution. If you are performing multiple sets of an exercise, use isometric holds on the last repetition of the last set.

4 - Partial repetitions

Partial repetitions are similar to isometric holds (also due to the amount of muscle trauma they induce). When you get to the end of a set and can't perform another full repetition, perform a few partial repetitions to fully exhaust your muscles.

Some of the best exercises for partial repetitions are calf raises and pull-ups on the machine. However, with a good training partner, you can perform partial reps on almost any exercise. You just need to get to the lightest part of the range of motion and avoid the heaviest part. On the bench press, for example, a training partner could help you move the weight up from the chest after you have reached concentric muscle failure. You would then perform partial repetitions at the top of the range of motion.

As with isometric holds, you should not perform more than one set of partial repetitions per exercise.

5 - Forced repetitions

I'm not a big fan of forced reps - where a training partner helps you perform the concentric portion of the last reps of a set - because they can be abused too easily and also make you dependent on someone else for the intensity of your workout.

If you want an example of how much this technique is abused, go to any gym on a Monday after 17:30 and see what's going on in the bench press area. Count how many times you hear someone say "you all by yourself", even if their training partner is actually doing 50% of the work.

But just because a few ignorant people abuse this technique doesn't mean it's not a good tool for increasing long as it's used sparingly. A few forced repetitions on one set of an exercise per training session can make a big difference.

6 - Negative repetitions

If you slowly lower a weight that is heavier than anything you can move concentrically, you will create more microtrauma in your muscles than you can with any other training technique. This technique is like dynamite, but the risk of collateral damage is also high.

I prefer to use a less traumatic version of negative repetitions. Instead of starting with a weight that you can't move concentrically, you use a weight that you can perform multiple reps with and only perform slow negative reps once you've reached concentric muscle failure. Since the weight we use is lighter than your 1RM weight for this exercise, you avoid overloading a muscle to the point where it has trouble recovering.

Tip: Fight inflammation with these 10 tips

Reduce chronic inflammation to feel better, improve your performance in the gym and even live longer

By John Meadows, Bill Willis, PhD


Inflammation is the body's first response to injury or infection. Acute inflammation is a normal part of life. The benefits of the temporary discomfort and swelling are that inflammation allows a large number of immune cells to quickly reach the areas where they are needed to kill pathogens and initiate the healing process.

The inflammation that accompanies hard training is a good thing. These types of acute inflammatory responses are completely normal and are involved in everything from wound healing to muscle growth. But what happens when inflammation is chronic instead of acute?

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation tends to be systemic and can lead to joint stiffness and generalized muscle pain. In serious cases, chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease and insulin resistance. Most chronic degenerative diseases and even cancer are promoted by chronic inflammation. The bottom line is that chronic inflammation can equate to reduced performance and more serious problems.

10 tips to control inflammation

  1. Ensure a balance of essential fatty acids. Avoid vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil and other oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids.
  2. Eat more cold-water fish or use fish oil capsules. Wild salmon, sardines and herring are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids as they are low in mercury. If you are still afraid of mercury, eat a portion of Brazil nuts every day. The selenium contained in these nuts binds mercury and renders it harmless.
  3. Limit your consumption of carbohydrates. Refined sugars raise insulin levels, which in itself is not catastrophic, but a constant increase in insulin levels will result in increased inflammation.
  4. Lose weight if you are overweight. Fat cells produce IL-6, TNF-alpha and other pro-inflammatory cytokines. The fatter you are, the more cytokines you produce and the longer inflammation will last.
  5. Get a massage. Massage is an excellent way to reduce inflammation.
  6. Eat more spices like curcumin, ginger and oregano. Curcumin is a must. There are over 2000 studies supporting its use. It suppresses interleukin-6 and many other pro-inflammatory compounds.
  7. Avoid trans fats - that's all there is to say on this topic.
  8. Avoid or limit your alcohol consumption. Bingeing once in a while is fine, but if your idea of moderation is to limit your alcohol consumption to the days of the week that end in "g", then you probably have a problem. And slow down your caffeine intake too
  9. Eat more fruit and vegetables. This will improve your body's antioxidant status.
  10. Use vitamins and antioxidants in supplement form. If you don't eat enough healthy food or simply don't like certain foods, then use supplements. EOA/DHA and GLA supplements are top of the list, but you may also benefit from vitamins A, C, D and E. And last but not least, add some magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Tip: Increase your strength on the spot with 2 exercises

Release the brakes on your nervous system and you'll automatically be able to move more weight.

By Chad Waterbury


The nervous system is like a handbrake that is half applied to your muscles. Release that brake and you'll immediately get stronger and recruit more muscle fibers.

As any good engineer will tell you, the foundation must be able to support the house. If you have a ten-story building and you want to add 5 more stories, the foundation must be able to support that additional load. In terms of strength training, I'm talking about the added stress that comes from putting more weight on your muscles and joints.

Super Stiffness

Your support system consists of your gluteus, abdominal wall and latissimus. When these muscle groups contract together, they form a super stiff base to support any exercise you perform. This is why Dr. Stuart McGill refers to the synchronous activation of the gluteus, abdominal wall and latissimus as "super stiffness". When these muscles are strong and tight, the nervous system will send more neural input to all your muscles. This is the reason why increased squat strength will also increase your bench press performance.

Getting your body into super stiffness mode is easy. You only need two exercises. Start with two sets of three Romanian deadlifts. Make sure that at the highest point of each repetition you fully extend your hips and tighten your gluteus as hard as possible. Then perform two or three sets of ab wheel rollouts (

We don't want these two exercises to drain your energy, so there is no need to use maximum weights, which is especially true for the Romanian deadlift. The goal is simply to place tension and neural input on the right muscles to strengthen your foundation before training.


Do the following before training to get your nervous system going:

Romanian deadlift

  • Sets: 2
  • Repetitions: 3
  • Weight: moderately heavy / a weight you could normally perform 7 or 8 reps with

Ab wheel rollout

  • Sets: 2
  • Repetitions: 3
  • Weight: bodyweight

Tip: Perform hammer curls prone on an incline bench

This bicep exercise will build muscle in 4 different ways. Try them out when the growth of your arms has come to a standstill.


Fact: If your upper arm development has stagnated, then hammer curls (palms facing inwards instead of upwards) can get your progress back on track by targeting the often underdeveloped brachialis. If you've already done this, then there's an exercise to take it to the next level:

Hammer curls prone on an incline bench

  1. Adjust the back pad of an incline bench to an incline of around 60 to 70 degrees. Take a pair of dumbbells and place your chest on the bench pad.
  2. Let your arms hang vertically downwards and then perform a curl movement until the dumbbells touch your shoulders. Remember to use a hammer grip - palms facing inwards throughout the exercise

The secret is to fully extend your arms at the lowest point of the movement. Since you can't recruit the front shoulder muscles and it's impossible to gain momentum, this is more of a biceps-only exercise. It will also help you to recruit the long head of the biceps - the most neglected muscle head in this muscle group.

Tip: Break through plateaus with "Big 50" sets

Have your gains come to a standstill? Try this training method and break out of your rut.

By Dennis Weis


One of the most intense ways to break through plateaus is to perform 50 repetitions per set

  1. Choose an exercise and a weight that allows you to perform 25 solid reps in a row.
  2. After the 25th repetition, pause for 15 seconds and take a deep breath.
  3. Then perform a few more repetitions until muscle failure and pause again for 15 seconds.
  4. Continue in this way until you have completed 50 repetitions.

Hypothetically, your repetition pattern could look like this: 25, 8, 6, 5, 3, and 3 = 50 repetitions. If you have the guts, you can also aim for 70 to 100 repetitions and extend the rests between the mini sets to 20 seconds. If you are doing a set of 50 or 100 reps, a good goal is to try to complete these reps in 6 or fewer partial sets. Bodybuilders and anyone else with hypertrophy goals should use a weight that is 75% of their 10 RM weight and perform as many subsets as it takes to complete a 50 or 100 repetition set.

To make these sets really intense, you can reduce the rests between subsets to 6 seconds instead of 15 seconds.


From Clay Hyght

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