As an athlete, you want to be as strong, athletic, and fast as possible, so workout intensity is a must. That means you need to find ways to make your training more challenging, while others try to find ways to make things easier.
When it comes to training in the weight room, you're probably familiar with intensity boosters like drop sets, supersets, and rest/pause. But here are three more techniques, which you might not be as familiar with, that can be very effective in helping you become stronger, leaner, and better as an athlete.
1 1/2 reps
You've probably heard the rule that half reps don't count, but every rule has exceptions. This is where you perform a full rep followed by the top half of a second rep. Let's use the Bench Press as an example. You perform a full rep from chest to lockout, but on the way back down, you stop halfway and press the weight back up. This will challenge your muscular endurance, coordination and stamina.
If you like to lift heavy, this is for you. They are very heavy sets with brief rest in between, so it is like a "cluster" of sets in one big set. We'll use the Squat here. If you're performing three cluster sets of four reps, you would do four reps, rest for 20-30 seconds and repeat that pattern until you do three sets of four. Those three "clusters" are actually one total set. A normal protocol would be to do three total sets in this fashion.
Time Under Tension
This is pretty simple. TUT is the amount of time you place tension on the muscle throughout the set. One way of doing this is by performing your sets to time instead of number of reps. You should use a consistent tempo throughout each set. For example, a rep of Barbell Curls might be two seconds to lift the weight, one second of holding the weight, two seconds to lower the weight, and one second of holding the weight at the bottom where the muscle is stretched. That means it takes six seconds to perform one rep. If you do a TUT set of one minute, you should be able to do around 10 reps.
Sample Workout With Intensity Boosters
Barbell Squat: 3 cluster sets of 3/3/3 reps (9 total) with 30 seconds of rest between clusters and two minutes of rest between sets.
Leg Press: 3 sets of 12-15 "1 1/2 reps." Perform a full rep followed by a half rep. That is one rep. Two minutes of rest between sets.
Lying Leg Curl: 3 sets of 60 seconds Time Under Tension. Two seconds lifting the weight, one second holding, two seconds lowering the weight, one second holding (2-1-2-1 tempo), 90 seconds of rest between sets.
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