0

Expand your Hypertrophy Repertoire

Dec 09, 2021

By Team Nutrex Research

When progress stops it’s time to re-think your game plan. Linear periodization focuses on the progressive overload of force or reps across each week in the gym. The low-hanging fruit for most athletes is to force progress by adding more weight to the bar. But, this can quickly result in accommodation and plateau or stagnation. Incorporating different types of muscular stress, kinds that mechanosensors in muscle are not as used to or are unfamiliar with is where creativity can be a unique catalyst to drive progress. It’s time we expand our view of intensity beyond how heavy the bar is. Here are some a-typical methods that are less frequently used than just moving straight weight up and down.

Isometrics:

Isometrics is a fantastic tool for increasing neuromuscular recruitment, developing positional strength, and pushing blood into the muscle.

There are 3 categories of muscular work…

– Eccentric (The lengthening of muscle against load, typically when lowering a weight)
– Isometric (Holding a muscle in contraction still against a load)

People typically think of isometrics as holding poses such as the front-facing most muscular, lat spread, or side chest, but its application in training is far greater than just posing in front of a mirror. Incorporating isometrics as complexes combined with dynamic movement pack a huge punch from a muscle recruitment and muscle damage standpoint. You can create killer sessions that will drastically increase size and strength without having just put more weight on the bar by incorporating isometrics. Here are a few examples that work great.

#1 Shocker Sets

Shocker sets are where you move from a heavy dynamic movement into an iso-hold. For example…

  • Perform 8 Reps of a Heavy decline barbell bench press immediately into a 30 second most muscular chest flex hold. Rest 2 Minutes. Repeat for 4 sets.
  • Perform 5 Heavy weighted pull-ups into max bodyweight or assisted pull-ups into a 30-second front lat spread. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 5 sets.

#2 Holds in Working Sets

Incorporating hold in working sets is another simple way to spice up the reps and recruit/fatigue more muscle. Some are great to be done with a training partner for spotting or applying additional load. For example.

Chest and Tricep Work:

  • Perform 3 reps of a heavy DB bench press, then hold halfway up for 10 seconds while the training partner applies overpressure on top of the DB’s. Repeat three times in one set for 9 total reps and 30 seconds of holds. Rest 2 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times.
  • Perform standing banded chest flys plus a 30-second hold in full contraction to finish each set. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 3 rounds.
Outlift
Outlift

Back and Bicep Work:

  • Perform 10 bent over rows with an underhand grip then hold in contraction at the top with the elbows bent and lats contracted for 10 second into 9 reps and a 9-second hold, into 8 reps and an 8-second hold all the way down to 1 rep and a 1-second hold in one giant single set.
  • Perform 10 single-arm banded lat pull-downs while holding the opposite arm in full contraction all the way down, switch arms, and repeat, then finish with 10 double arm pulls as 1 giant set. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets.
  • Perform 10 single arm DB bicep curls while holding the opposite arm in full contraction all the way up, switch arms, and repeat, then finish with 10 double arm curls as 1 giant set. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets.

Leg and Glute Work:

  • Perform 5 Heavy hack squat half reps from the bottom to halfway up, then hold 2’’ above the bottom for 10 seconds. Do this 5 times in 1 set for a total of 25 reps and 50 seconds of hold. Rest 2 minutes. Repeat for 3 sets.
  • Perform standing banded chest flys plus a 30-second hold in full contraction to finish each set. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 3 rounds.

#3 Support Holds at Lockout

Support holds occur when a muscle is fully contracted and the bones are structurally lined up, this is typically done with pressing movements, but can also be done in a squat in deadlift variations. Here are some examples…

  • Perform Tabata Kettlebell floor press (20 seconds of work into 10 seconds of rest, repeated for 8 rounds totaling 4 minutes). Rest while holding the bells in support with the arms locked out.
  • Perform 10 Heavy bamboo bar overhead press with kettlebells hanging by the band immediately into a 30-second hold in support overhead with the arms locked out. Rest 90 seconds, repeat for 3 sets.

Overload Eccentrics

Overload eccentrics is exactly as it sounds. In this method, an athlete is lengthening a muscle, typically while lowering it down at a weight that is greater than their current capacity to move concentrically up. You can think of this as losing against the weight slowly or resisting on the way down. Our bodies are smart and will only allow us to move as much weight up as we can safely lower down therefore eccentric strength usually develops first. This also allows us to potentially take advantage of that specific phase of movement that we can load to a greater degree. More weights, more dates, and in this scenario we are able to incorporate more muscular recruitment, muscle damage, and trick sensors into getting muscle to grow and get stronger because of the loading component. These methods typically require another training partner or the use of special equipment such as release hooks to create this very special stimulus. Very simply put, we are unleashing hell on the negatives.

Man doing dumbbell press

#1 Forced Reps

Forced reps are where an athlete “cheats” or getting assistance is the concentric phase of the movement while controlling on their own the negative descent with a controlled tempo of anywhere from 3-10 seconds. Here are a few examples.

Chest and Triceps:

  • Perform 20 reps of a moderate dumbbell incline press immediately into 10 forced reps of a barbell incline press with a 10 second negative for 10 reps, have a partner assist each rep up with the barbell. Rest 2 minutes. Repeat for 3 sets.
  • Perform 10 Heavy single-arm kettlebell push press with a 5 second negative down then switch arms. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 4 sets.

Back and Bicep:

  • Perform 8 weighted jumping pull-up negative with a 5-second count on the way down. Rest 2 Minutes. Repeat for 4 sets.
  • Perform 10 Heavy barbell cheat curls (bending and hinging at the knee and hip to curl the weight up) Pair with a 3 second negative on the way down. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 4 sets.

Legs:

  • Perform 10 heavy hack squats with a 5 second negative down and partner assistance pushing on the way up. Rest 2 minutes. Repeat for 3 sets.
  • Perform 12 Heavy lying leg curls with a 3 second negative and partner assistance on the way up.

#2 Over Pressure

Overpressure is a very simple and fun way of incorporating overload eccentrics. This is where a training partner or coach applies an additional manual load on top of the weight through the eccentric portion of the movement done at a tempo. Here are some examples.

Chest and Triceps:

  • Perform 12 reps of a heavy DB Flat bench with a 3 second negative while a partner presses down in the negative as hard as possible without the athlete losing the tempo on the way down. Rest 2 minutes. Repeat for 4 sets.

Back and Biceps:

  • Perform 10 heavy low rows with a 5-second negative on a seated low row machine with a partner pulling the handles away from the athlete on the negative. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 4 sets.

Legs:

  • Perform 12 laying heavy hamstring curls with a partner pressing down on the pad through the negative as much as possible while holding the tempo. Rest 90 seconds. Repeat for 4 sets.