T Nation

Bodybuilding Techniques


If it were as simple as 'Lift X weight Y amount of times' then we would all be 300lbs. However, it seems as though muscle is a bit more complex than that. I remember the first time i learned the actual science behind a muscle contraction. I was amazed at the complexity and what was essentially instantaneous reaction of so many different parts(I recommend looking into it if you have not already). Learning this complex action/reaction series shed a new light on muscles. The difference was night and day. The point of this story is that this is the same reaction i got when i was literally shoved into the world of some different Bodybuilding Techniques.

Last week, i had the privilege of training Legs with a man who had several different pro cards under his belt. A Man's whose intensity was a whole other world. The workout really broke me down, and i loved/hated every minute of it (As Between sets, i spent a majority of my time laying on the ground, gasping for air). We used an arsenal of different techniques-

Pre Exhaustion- A method in which a muscle group is isolated prior to a multijoint exercise. It works to fatigue the primary muscle group via isolation so that it may be further fatigued on the compound exercise that follows. Of course this can compromise strength on the second exercise, but some use it specifically for that point.

Supersets- Performing two or more exercises, one after the other. Normally, the point in Supersets is to pair antagonizing muscle groups IE Bis/Tris, Quads/Hams, etc. An interesting tidbit here is that research shows that a muscle will be stronger if preceeded immediately by a contraction of it's antagonist. Supposedly(taking Chest for example), the back muscles inhibit the contraction of your pecs to a certain extent. In this instance, performing a set of rows shortly before benching would lessen the inhibitory effect, allowing the pecs to achieve a more forceful contraction.

Forced Reps- Forced reps allow one to get more reps out of a set by having a spotter help you finish past your point of failure. This allows you to push your body to its limits and beyond, important for forcing muscle growth. Studies have shown an increased level of GH in athletes that performed forced reps by up to 3x that shown in standard work.

Negative Reps- Much like forced reps in that a set is performed to failure. After you can no longer complete any more positive reps, you can still squeeze out of a couple negative reps, as muscles can be stronger on the negative portion of the exercise. Do whatever reps you can, then with the aid of a spotter helping you get the weight back to starting position, concentrate on lowering the weight slowly.

Partials- focusing on a specific area of a muscle. partials can be very devastating. The name basically says it all, you perform part of the movement, and leave out another part. Take front squats for example. Throw some weight on, get down ATG, and dont come up beyond half way. It keeps that constant stress on your quads (particularly at the insertions).

Dropset training- The immediate reduction of a weight, and the continuation of the set. This is another technique that basically allows you to lift beyond your limits. Forcing the muscles to continue contracting with lighter weight will cause an elevated response of GH and IGF-1. You just have to keep time between sets no more than 10secs. It helps to have a spotter here, to be able to strip weight, so that as soon as its done you can continue working. An example of this could be DB curls. You just finish 15reps with 55lbs, now drop down to 40lbs and perform another 15, now drop to 30 and try another 15. Lol we all know you wont be getting 15reps for either of those last sets, but you need to set that bar high. It helps to have the spotter here help you perform some of these as forced reps too.

Angle Training- Performing basically a giant set of an exercise, but adjusting the angle of which you perform it slightly. Example: Doing leg press with a wide stance, narrow stance, angled in feet, angled out feet, etc.

Utilizing and grouping techniques such as these made my workout the most gut wrenching experience i have ever encountered. But it also shed a new light on things, and has changed the way i train. Now there are plenty of others that i did not mention, so feel free to chime in with styles that you use.


This will be a good thread, and good first post already.

Im just gonna sit back and read this one


I mite try the angled giant set for quads. I like tri-set/giant sets/circuits for a muscle group. Lately I've been using a Hernon/Modok inspired typed drop set where I finish my heavy work of say chin ups with a set of 3-6 reps, then immediately do a set of 1 arm DB rows shooting for 10-12 reps, then pullover machine shooting for 15-25. And I'm finished with back for the day.


What? Is this one of those raaaaaaaaaaare Akuma thread? They used to be so abundant and lively around these parts but seem to have been hunted to near extinction! its so beautiful :slight_smile:


Lol i can only create so many threads before people jump on my ass and say shit like "this has been discussed before!"

But seeing the degeneration of the bodybuilding forums, i figured id try to spark some form of life back into it...It seems as to no avail this time...


"Partials- focusing on a specific area of a muscle. partials can be very devastating. The name basically says it all, you perform part of the movement, and leave out another part. Take front squats for example. Throw some weight on, get down ATG, and dont come up beyond half way. It keeps that constant stress on your quads (particularly at the insertions). "

I'm only new to weight training so take what i say with a grain of salt but I was stuck 85kg squats for a little while and by doing this I have now gotten my squat to 100kgs but I've only been training for 5 months now so it could be newbie type gains.


How about partials after you can't do full reps anymore?

Specifically thinking of exercises like leg curls and pullups where you can't really grind reps

I tried this with leg curls after reading the Mountain Dog leg article and actually was able to start progressing a little bit after being stuck at approx the same weight for a very long time. I suspect that on this exercise, the muscle is not really fatigued after you finish full reps and this is a way to push it

I haven't been able to try it yet with pull ups b/c of a shoulder injury, but I am hoping it will help there as well (another problem exercise for me)


Akuma, could you please go into more details, as far as you can recall beyond the vapors of exhaustion, of that workout? how were the techniques grouped/pyramided? alone, we know each of them, how were they put together to create the experience?


I went over it in my Log, but sure ill discuss.

So essentially we started with some pre exhaustion, Giant setting 4 exercises- 2 legged leg extension, 1 legged leg ext, Prone leg curl, and some form of leg raises on the leg ext machine that i believe was for the hip flexors.

Then we moved onto Leg press. The final set of this was a dropset paired with some Every angling work.

We then jumped onto the machine hack squat. Nothing really special about these, just ATG.

Then onto Front squat. Here we used partials, going down ATG but not coming up too high, keeping the entirety of the stress in the quads the whole time.

Afterwards we jumped on Leg extensions. Nothing crazy here.

Then leg curls. Nothing crazy here.

Umm dont entirely recall around here, but i know we did some hip Abd/add. I believe we tried to superset those with Prone leg curls.

Finally we threw in some Post Exhaustion work and ended on plain ole Squats.

The weight was kept high, and the reps were all around 12-15. Forced reps were essentially used on Every exercise up til leg extensions, simply because you wanted to stop around 6reps in, but you couldnt. Spots + yelling made you do more.


How do you manage accumulated fatigue with techniques that push you past failure? I'm constantly fighting sore joints as it is, without drop sets and the like (at the moment I handle this by varying my rep range up continuously and it works pretty well).

Also with negatives, what are the experiences of people like when it came to transferring from a negative to a full rep? I honestly can't remember ever having done this as I think I've always been able to do at least one pull up...


Concentration/partials/Form. If you are getting a lot of tricep involvement in your bench, you need to adjust how your pushing, maybe bring your arms out wider, maybe cut your Rom to the bottom half of the movement, etc. When i feel involvement where i dont want it, i change how im performing the rep.


I used to do a lot of these, but not so much anymore.

Drop sets, in particular, I used to use A LOT. These days, however, I just do rest pause. That's one you left off.

For those who don't know (probably no one), rest pause is simply taking incredibly short breaks in between sets. So, finish your top set, rest and take 10-15 deep breaths, do another set with the same weight, 10-15 breaths, same weight again etc.

Most do 2-3 "rest pauses" in this manner.

In my experience, doing 3 rest pause sets, if I get say, 10 reps on the first set, I'll probably get something like 5-6 reps for the second, and 4-5 on the third.


I like rest pauses too... Try not to do it too much but sometimes you just get pumped and wanna start repping out more and I think it builds a stronger mentality to coming back to that weight the next time 'round or going heavier too


What about just pulling up short of failure, racking the weight for 5-10 secs then repping out. Ive used it a few times but haven't had much experience with it..



Thanks, now I know its there, I went and found your log.
Lots of 'nothing crazies' put together = killer workout.
Do you think you'll be able to keep this up, following a pro who uses special supplements which help recovery?


There were 2 'nothing crazies,' so dont know if i understand that.

And secondly, yes i do think i can keep up, simply because i dont quit. Leg workouts are the most intense, and i kept up with him for every bump and for every rep. It kicked the shit out of me, but i didnt stop.


Is there a better place or time to use a rest-pause?


Intensification Techniques.......dare I say Weider. Used by a lifter with 'intimate knowledge' of themselves are critical to long term progress.