Every once in a while I play around with advanced weight training techniques and discover certain variations for hypertrophy training that stand out as being so much more effective than standard protocols. After all, the one thing I should have derived from all these years of training is a pretty incisive feel for what works, and what doesn’t. Because of all this experience it is imperative upon me to change every single workout that I do as I will adapt so quickly, and whereas a beginner can arguably make progress for months on the same routine I must keep my body constantly off balance.
Maybe you are not so sure of when a workout has been effective, because the best ultilisation of advanced weight training techniques really isn’t just a case of mindlessly trashing yourself so that you are a quivering wreck left dribbling over yourself in the corner of a gym. Here are a few pointers to look out for, although as ever, be aware that everybody is different and therefore how you react may not the fit the exact model for anyone else:
1) If it is a hypertrophy focused session you get a massive pump right from the beginning of the workout.
2) You don’t overextend yourself and you keep that pump for the entire session. Letting it drop away means you have done too much.
3) If it is a strength session your muscles may feel a bit hammered at the end of the session, but they still feel “alive”! This especially applies to the twice a day training workout I am going to describe a little bit later.
4) You enjoyed the challenge of the session. If you were not mentally in the game for the session, and everything leading up to the workout was spot on, then there is an argument that the workout programme itself could be improved.
5) If it is hypertrophy focused you feel the session, the exercises, and pretty much every repetition right where you want to feel it. Sometimes I play around with exercise variations and they work well (one and a quarter reps on today’s Scott Press) or not so well (one and a quarter reps on today’s inverted ring rows) – you will usually know after the first set.
6) And following on from point 5, if it’s a great hypertrophy workout then a few hours after you have finished you may start cramping, twitching, and not really have the power to move the areas that you trained! This perfectly describes me after the chest and arms workouts I am about to tell you about. Even my forearms are sore (a rarity), and given that they were not targeted with any direct work this should tell you that the overall demand of the workouts were very high indeed.
Advanced Weight Training Techniques In Action!
Without further ado, the following chest and arms workouts are part of a twice a day training routine aimed primarily at muscular hypertrophy, with a half an eye on dropping some body fat along the way as I am not slowly leaning up after a patchy period of skipped meals and Easter eggs! It was my second high volume workout in a row (for these bodyparts), and believe you me when I tell you that this means the next chest and arms session is going to be just the one workout and a grand total of 12-15 working sets. This is an incredibly demanding day of training if you do it with sufficient effort and focus.
Advanced Weight Training Techniques: Chest & Arms Morning Workout (with a bit of calves thrown in!).
A1: Close Grip Fat Bar Supinated Chin Ups: 8×4/4110. Ideally, add weight with you are strong enough.
60 seconds rest.
A2: Dips with bands: 8×4/4010. The pain and shaking induced by this exercise is hard to describe if you load the bands up tight enough. For me it was 2 green bands stretched so hard that I could barely hold lockout at the top (and had to kneel down on the floor just to loop them into my dipping belt), and to give you an idea of what I can tolerate in the past I have dipped with an additional 90kg around my waist. After every set I felt like my arms and shoulder had somehow shortened by about an inch.
60 seconds rest.
A3: Standing Calf Raises: 8×8-10/3011.
60-90 seconds rest.
Advanced Weight Training Techniques: Chest & Arms Lunchtime Workout
A note on tempo – for much of this workout I adopted the principle of one and a quarter reps (usually going a quarter of the way up, say in a press, then down slowly and then up for one full repetition). I can’t really reflect this in the tempo prescriptions, so just bear this in mind – the total time under tension was clearly higher than the written tempo would indicate. Obviously, after a set or two your normal weights will drop off markedly.
A: 20 degree Incline Fat Grip Dumbell Press: 4×8/3210. This wasn’t 4 all out sets but more of a pyramid up to a couple of hard 8 rep sets (for me if it was with 55kg fat grip dumbells) with a nice long pause in the stretched position. I prefer to have my elbows almost in line with my neck at the bottom of the incline press as I feel the extra stretch is much very beneficial for hitting the hard to reach pec minor. Be warned, this style does limit the weight that you can lift, but you shouldn’t really care less about the weight if you are doing a second session in one day for a body part. Make it ALL about feel, stretch, squeeze, and aim for maximum damage of the muscle cells!
B1: Kneeling Cable Crossovers: 4×10/3011. One and a quarter reps (quarter at peak contraction) – I use a handle that allows for hand/wrist rotation so that as you do the negative you externally rotate the arms so that the arms can go all the way to vertical. This extended range of motion combined with both external and then internal (on the concentric) rotation can make a huge difference versus standard cable crossovers. Need I remind you that you cannot do this properly and go too heavy, it is very much a controlled movement.
B2: Flat Fat Grip Dumbell Press: 4×8/3010. One and a quarter reps (in stretched position) elbows tucked in and palms facing inward with a hard internal rotation of the arms at the very top of the movement.
60-90 seconds rest.
The following arm workout was all done with one and a quarter reps (the quarter rep always being a very slow, controlled tempo to take out any momentum) for the first 2 cycles and then as fatigue set in rather then lighten the weights too much we changed to pumping repetitions, with no real tempo (close to a 2010), and getting out between 10-20 reps depending upon the movement. Absolutely everything was taken to failure on each and every set!
C1: Wide Fat Grip EZ Bar Cable curls: 4×12/3010 one and a quarter reps after eccentric.
C2: Flat Bench Triceps Press to Neck: 4×12/3010 one and a quarter reps after eccentric.
C3: Fat Grip Incline Dumbell Curls: 4×10/3010 one and a quarter reps after eccentric.
C4: Incline Triceps Extensions w/Watson Triceps Bar: 4×12/3010 one and a quarter reps after eccentric.
C5: Spider Curls: 4×12/3010 one and a quarter reps after eccentric.
C6: Kneeling Triceps Pushdowns with a shoulder width grip: 4×12/3010 one and a quarter reps after positive.
As ever, with any weight training programme the key is in the execution. Going through the motions will get you nowhere and you must “live every repetition”. If you do this then trust me, this workout will pulverize your chest and arm muscles. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments box below, and if you liked this article let me know by sharing/liking using the social media buttons on the left of this screen. The more feedback I can get, the more I can refine this content to suit what you would like to learn about!