To achieve targeting results during trainings there are a lot of methods and techniques which are differ in complex level and quantity of spent efforts. One of the most popular methods helping to increase the exercise intensity is “forced reps”.
The popularity of this technique is well-deserved; it is quite simple and available. Its sense is in doing few reps with weights after muscle failure. Simply say you can help your gym bro do more reps after his power ended and he is pressed down by the bar. Spotter, or spotters (it depends on the weight), take the part of weight on themselves and decrease a work load a little bit. As a result, sportsman can do more reps to exhaust the target muscle.
Is it so easy in practice like in theory? Yes, forced reps technique is quite spread among sportsmen. What is the main reason of such popularity? Whatever the gym you attend you can see the same picture: an exhausted visitor try to do more reps in set with a spotter or a trainer.
How to do it wrong
Alas, the spectacle is not for the faint of heart. In 9 cases from 10 forced reps use beginners and people with sloppy form. In such a situation forced reps are used without benefits but conversely. More over there is a clear self-deception.
Forgetting about the main reason of using forced reps, intensity increase, trainees turn the training into performance, such a tragicomedy. Tragedy is a way how these “sportsmen” are thinking they are look like. Comedy is a way like they really look trying to show their “super abilities” to themselves and to other people.
In fact, with such a situation intensity is not increasing but decreasing. As a result such sportsmen constantly use very effective method to decrease a training load instead of to increase it.
There are several explanations:
- Firstly, such a performance can impress many people who will remember the actor for a long time;
- Secondly, using of really working method (even if this using is improper) forms trainee’s pseudo confidence about the beginning of muscle growth;
- Thirdly, laziness is the engine of progress; man just wants to relieve his life, even in implicit form, even if it is just Too veiled.
Alas, first, second and third do not lead to training intensity increase. It remains only to be lost in daydreams that everything is good and well. Do not expect the real effect.
For the effective work of forced reps technique you should follow two important rules:
- First, technique should be used for the efficiency growth due to the exercise intensity increase;
- Second, due to proper way of doing exercise with forced reps can lead to extreme stress that body cannot cope with, they should be practiced sporadically. You should follow you feelings and experience (if you have such). Even such a recommendation like to use forced reps for one muscle group only once a week can lead to very harmful consequences like hard overtrain. We have already written about it in the article “Overtrain: what is it and how to prevent it”
How to do it right.
Ok, now we know how to do forced reps wrong. Let’s try to understand how to do them right. First of all, there is a little trap in definition yet: the proper forced rep can be even one. Nevertheless, if you do it right, this only one forced rep, your aim will be achieved: target muscles will work at full capacity.
How to understand that forced rep was done right? It’s easy. If you haven’t not only strength to continue, but even desire – congratulations! Forced rep was made according to all the rules.
To achieve such a condition at the end of the set you should do your best long before beginning the forced rep. It means than you did 99% of all to lift-pull-press the maximum weight with maximum quality of reps.
This is a theory. In practice, even 95% is an impossible task. Our brain stops the muscle work to save sources for itself (this is the bright example of how brain try to save itself till the end). So even approaching the edge indicators is a titanic work and amazing struggle with yourself. Just this opens the sacred door of self-development.
Ideal variant for the forced trainings it is to train target muscle to failure before your spotter will touch the bar or elbows to help you lift the tool up. When the spotter begins to fulfil his mission, work depends on two people. To be more exact, it depends on the level of their work coherence and degree of elaboration.
Good spotter will never take the extra weight on himself. In ideal situation spotter shouldn’t even touch the tool allowing the sportsman to do all job himself. He shouldn’t even looks like he ready to help and relieve the life of the person under the barbell. Spotter shouldn’t do any movement to the bar even in dead spot too. Only at the moment when barbell begins to move back, only then spotter should lighten the weight of the tool.
Lighten means “lighten a little bit”. It doesn’t mean to lift the barbell instead of trainee. It means not more than “100 grams”. If it was not enough at the first moment, add 100 grams more help. Do not grip the barbell like wolf grip little red riding hood decreasing the load on couple kilos. It will be a clumsy assistance.
Trainee should work to the failure. I.e. he should do what he has planned, make a step beyond the border of his everyday training intensity.
If during the first forced rep there was made a mistake of extra lightening the weight, only in this case it will be reasonable to do the second forced rep. This time there will be absolutely no room for error.
After proper forced set (it’s more correctly to say “forced rep”) you’ll feel blue and will miss sweets of those who in dry. In short, it will be difficult physically. It is not the reason to stop. After one and a half to two weeks you should try once more, outdo yourself and do forced rep again.
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