If you’re serious about the gym and serious about your training, then you’ll understand the importance of continuously overloading the target muscle region to effectively bring about developments in strength and size.
Training regimes and techniques must continually be altered to prevent the possibility of plateaus creeping into your workouts. There’s no two ways about it; you must keep your musculoskeletal system guessing and working maximally each and every session.
Forced repetitions are one of several techniques available out there that will help you achieve and maintain a state of optimal training. Previous research has also demonstrated it as a powerful tool for overcoming training plateaus. The only downside is that you will require a spotter, so if you train alone it could be time to find a workout partner.
So what is a forced repetition? It can be best defined as a repetition which you can’t perform without assistance. For example, you set yourself a target of 6 free standing squats. You perform 4 on your own but on the 5th and 6th repetitions require a spotter to assist you on the upward phase. The last two repetitions are therefore deemed as forced because despite your target muscles still being fully activated, you could not complete the repetitions without help.
So what are the benefits of these forced repetitions? The act of continuing to persevere with the exercise enhances muscular stress and brings about a state of further stimulation. Working that close to failure has been demonstrated to further enhance muscular hypertrophy. It also means that your repetition numbers don’t drop, whereas before you might have stopped on 7 or 8, you’re now going to 10 each time and pushing your muscles to their absolute limits. All this will ultimately equate to additional growth and development.
The beauty of forced repetitions is that you can apply it to almost every exercise. If you’re working unilaterally, for example isolated bicep curls, then you can even use your non working arm to assist the target arm and negate the need for an independent spotter altogether. There are only a handful of exercises where this is possible however.
For the rest of the exercises you will require a reliable spotter. Pick an individual who you trust and whom you can build a level of communication with so that they are right on hand to assist you without delay. For health and safety reasons always ensure a spotter is on standby and increase the weighted resistance gradually, never substituting good form at any time.
So there you have forced repetitions. If utilised correctly, this training technique is incredible to smash through your training plateaus and build up a solid base of strength and size. It’s always important to ensure your training is continually changing, so don’t go for longer than 6-8 weeks without invoking some degree of change. With all this in mind, it’s time to step away from the computer, find a training partner and start putting this theory into practice.