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Advanced Weight Training Techniques

The world of weight training extends beyond the basic structure of  3-4 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise.

While this is sufficient volume to build muscle, there are a number of intensity-boosting advanced weight training techniques that can be incorporated to take your weight training to the next level and boost the effectiveness of your workouts.

Supersets

Perform two exercises back to back, taking no, or minimal rest between them. Ideal exercise pairings include agonist (synergist muscles) or antagonist (opposing muscles) supersets. An agonist superset would target your chest and triceps, or back and biceps to overload these muscles in one workout. Antagonist supersets may include back and chest, or biceps and triceps.

Benefits: Increases workout intensity and volume, burns more calories, improves endurance and enhances blood flow.

Drop sets

This technique boosts workout density by allowing you to lift past the point of muscle failure as you reduce the weight in each subsequent set. This is best done on a machine, or using free weights, preferably dumbbells. The key to its effectiveness is reducing the weight as quickly as possible as you continue to ‘drop’ down as many times as you can, working to failure on each drop sets.

Rest-pause sets

This technique involves lifting to failure on a specific exercise, then resting a short rest period of no more than 10 seconds, before continuing with the exercise performing as many reps as possible. This process can be repeated a number of times to maximise its effectiveness.

Benefits: Improves multiple energy pathways and delivers enhanced muscle pumps.

Negative reps

Extending the eccentric (lengthening) phase of an exercise increases time under tension, which boosts testosterone production and significantly increases strength. This training also strengthens connective tissue.

Caution: This technique causes more micro-trauma to muscle tissue than conventional concentric lifting, so only incorporate it periodically.

Pyramid sets

This workout structure progresses from lighter weights with a greater number of repetitions in the first set, to heavier weights with fewer repetitions in subsequent sets. A reverse pyramid uses the opposite structure, where the heavier weights are used at the beginning and progressively gets lighter as the reps increase.

Benefits: Improves multiple energy pathways and delivers enhanced muscle pumps.

Tri-sets

This technique requires that you do three exercises, targeting the same muscle group, without resting or pausing between the exercise sets.

Giant sets

Giant sets target one muscle group with four separate exercises performed in quick succession. This is often done to failure, often with a reduction in weight halfway through a set, once muscle fatigue sets in.