Skip to content

Tip of the week Tip: Set new personal bests with the "small plates" trick

Tipps der Woche Tipp: Stelle neue persönliche Bestleistungen mit dem “kleine Platten” Trick auf

The idea is to load the bar with small plates and the more confusing the arrangement of the plates is, the better.

If you want to load the bar with 100 kilos, then most exercisers would put two 20 kilo plates on each side. With the "small plates" method, you could instead use two 10 kilo plates, two 5 kilo plates and four 2.5 kilo plates on each side, but these plates don't have to be in that order on the bar (and don't even have to be in the same order on both sides).

This works even better if you have a training partner load the bar for you, as it is then harder for you to mentally calculate the weight.

This method eliminates the psychological inhibition that some people have when they see several 20 kilo discs per side. Loading the bar with smaller plates is less intimidating and can help you feel more confident.

Tip: Use single repetitions to prepare

Here are two ways smart exercisers can prepare their bodies for heavy weights and new personal records.


By Tony Bonvechio

The purpose of warm-up sets is to prepare your body for your work sets. Do too few warm-up sets and you won't be ready. Do too many warm-up sets and you will lose valuable kilos or repetitions due to excessive fatigue. Submaximal single repetitions performed with perfect technique and high speed can boost your confidence and wake up the high threshold motor units to get you ready for your work sets.

There are two ways to use such preparation sets:

1. a heavier single repetition before a lighter set with higher repetitions

In the first option, you use a heavier weight for a single repetition than for your heaviest work set. Choose a weight that is lower than your maximum weight but lighter than your weight for your work sets and perform one repetition with it. For example, if you wanted to warm up for 8 repetitions of bench presses with 100 kilos, this could look like this:

  • Empty bar x 8 reps
  • 60 x 5
  • 80 x 5
  • 90 x 3
  • 97,5 x 1
  • 105 x 1 (preparation set)
  • 100 x 8

After performing a single repetition at 105 kilos, the 100 kilos will feel lighter, giving you the confidence to perform the higher repetition sets with ease.

2. one repetitive single repetition at high speed after multiple warm-up sets

This method involves using the weight of a warm-up set for a single repetition instead of multiple repetitions. Many more advanced powerlifters advocate using more low repetition sets instead of a few high repetition sets to warm up. This approach lets you reuse a weight to get additional warm-up volume while increasing your confidence through single repetitions at high speed. For example, if you want to work your way up to a new max weight of 200 kilos for squats, you could do the following:

  • Empty bar x 10 repetitions
  • 65 x 5
  • 65 x 5
  • 90 x 3
  • 110 x 3
  • 140 x 3
  • 155 x 3
  • 180 x 3
  • 180 x 1 (preparation set)
  • 190 x 2
  • 190 x 1 (preparation set)
  • 200 x 1 (new personal best)

Performing 3 repetitions with 180 kilos and 2 repetitions with 190 kilos will help you get a feel for the weight and using the same weight for a single repetition will help you achieve perfect technique and work on your explosive speed. The single reps should feel light after the sets with more reps, allowing you to take your confidence to your new max attempt.

Tip: Perform pull-ups without elbow pain

Use a grip for pull-ups that allows your wrists to rotate naturally


By Chad Waterbury

Most people stop doing pull-ups regularly because of an elbow injury. Sometimes these problems occur in the shoulders as well. In both cases, the culprit is the same: pull-ups on a fixed bar.

When you pull up on a vertical plane, your wrists want to rotate. How far they rotate depends on your skeletal structure and the mobility of your soft tissue. However, your wrists do not want to stay in the same position continuously during this exercise. You can easily check this. Work up to your maximum weight for 3 reps of pull-ups on rings and watch your wrists - they will never stay in the same position the whole time.

If the wrists cannot rotate naturally, the strain will be transferred directly to the elbows, which will lead to pain and inflammation. After that, the shoulder joints will also join the pain party. If you look at the shoulder movement of someone doing pull-ups on a fixed bar, it looks exactly like pull-ups on rings. However, there are small biomechanical changes when the wrists cannot rotate. You may not see a difference, but you will feel it at some point when the underlying dysfunction manifests itself in the form of shoulder pain.

The next best option

If you don't have access to rings or handles that rotate, then the next best option is to perform pull-ups with a neutral grip. The hammer grip (where the palms face each other) is easier on the elbows. Using thicker handles further relieves the elbows.

Tip: Use foam rolling for faster recovery

Soft tissue work with the foam roller before training is okay, but it is best done after training


By Dr. John Rusin

Although traditional myofascial release techniques such as foam rolling play only a minor role in pre-workout preparation, these techniques are a highly effective way to aid post-workout recovery. From limiting muscle soreness to aiding lymphatic drainage, foam rolling could be the easiest way to keep the recovery process going.

During the post-workout window (5 to 15 minutes after your workout), target the soft tissue that was most active during your training session of the day. For example, if you worked out legs, then your post-workout foam rolling should focus on the muscles of the legs. It's not rocket science, but this is where it gets interesting.

If you do foam rolling before your workout, choose a target area that you want to loosen up. However, the opposite is true for stimulating recovery. The recovery window is the time to work on the whole tissue, spend time on multiple segments and really spend time on the floor addressing every aspect of the area.

To get the most out of your efforts you should focus on large surface muscles rather than small acute muscles. For example, it's more appropriate to work the entire gluteus than to focus on trigger points like the piriformis. Take your time. Get the rest of the body that is not on the roller into a comfortable position and start rolling.

Tip: Build a stronger, harder butt

Train your glutes and hamstrings with dynamic static compound sets like never before


By Travis Pollen

The framework for dynamic static compound sets is simple

  • A1. One dynamic exercise with 12 repetitions
  • A2. Static hold to muscle failure

Start with 12 minutes of a dynamic exercise to pre-fatigue the muscles and then immediately perform static hold to failure with an exercise that trains the same area. Pause for 90 seconds and repeat twice more, aiming for at least 8 repetitions in the following sets. With gluteus and hamstring exercises, it could look like this:

Dynamic static compound set for leg flexors & gluteus

  1. Romanian deadlift: 12 repetitions
  2. Single-leg gluteus bridge on the foam roller (for advanced users) or double-leg gluteus bridge on the foam roller (for less advanced users) until muscle failure

These three rounds will be sufficient if you perform each hold to muscle failure.

Technique tip

During the gluteus bridge, press your arms firmly into the floor to engage your abdominal muscles and tighten your gluteus as if you were holding a coin between your buttocks. The mind-muscle connection is key here. You can hold a half-hearted bridge for 2 pointless minutes or you can tense every muscle in your body hard for a grueling 30 seconds.

Tip: Speed up your recovery after training in two ways

Lymphatic drainage: Sounds unpleasant, but it's not. Here's a rationale for why you should encourage it in combination with some very simple ways to do so.


By Dr. John Rusin

Active lymphatic drainage for regeneration

This might be the easiest way to speed up recovery after exercise - and it's very effective too. When you exercise a muscle group, there is increased blood flow to that area to supply nutrients and oxygen to the muscle activity. This increased blood flow also releases a certain amount of localized fluid retention, which can be felt in the form of a sustained pump after a hard training session.

Even though the lymphatic system is crucial for the function of the human body, too much localized accumulation of lymphatic fluid can limit the regeneration process of the local tissue and the entire system. Controlling the amount of local lymphatic fluid is crucial for accelerating regeneration. We can achieve this in several ways.

1. lift your arms and legs

First, we can utilize gravity and achieve systemic drainage by lifting the extremities (arms and legs) to a level above the heart to push lymphatic fluid back into circulation.

On lower body training days, this can easily be achieved by lying on your back and lifting your feet and legs (with your knees slightly bent) and placing them on a bench or other elevation.

After an upper body workout, you can simply raise your arms above your head in a relaxed position to increase drainage. Do this 5 to 15 minutes after your workout.

2. take a relaxed walk

A second simple mechanism to reduce lymphatic fluid accumulation is to perform low-intensity recovery activities such as walking or cycling. The active muscle contractions put pressure on the passive veins and lymphatic vessels to push fluid back into the central circulation. A few minutes of slow walking is all you need.

Tip: Use mechanical descending sets to build bigger biceps

Here's a cool method that will force your stubborn biceps to grow again


By Christian Thibaudeau

The goal of a common descending set is to allow you to continue an exercise past the point of muscle failure (the point at which no more repetitions are possible). When you reach the point of muscle failure, you reduce the weight by 25 to 50% and perform more repetitions. This can be effective, but it is not optimal.

Mechanical descending sets are similar in that you also focus on performing more reps after you reach the point of muscle failure. With this method, however, you do not reduce the weight. Instead, you make slight changes to the exercise execution that allow you to perform more repetitions with the same weight. These changes can consist of changes to the grip, the distance between the feet, the angle of movement, etc. So by and large, you're using the same basic exercise/movement pattern but with slight technical variations.

Here's a cool bicep workout that uses mechanical descending sets.

Mechanical descending sets for biceps

A1. Scott curls with a steep angle for 6 to 8 reps, followed by 10 seconds of rest during which you change the angle of the bench.

Execution: Perform this exercise with your elbows on the steep side of the scott bench, using either dumbbells or a barbell. Once you reach the point of muscle failure, turn around and use the angled side of the bench.

A2. Scott curls at 45 degrees using the same weight, performing as many repetitions as possible. Rest for 10 seconds.

Execution: Perform the curls on the angled side of the scott bench using dumbbells or a barbell. Go straight to exercise A3 after reaching muscle failure.

A3. Standing barbell curls using the same weight for as many repetitions as you can.


By Christian Thibaudeau

Previous article The definitive guide to preventing muscle loss