Increase Your Training Intensity – Forced Repetitions


The most definitive way to build more muscle mass is to increase your muscles’ capacity to perform stronger contractions, which calls for gradually increasing the intensity of your workout. Keep in mind, however, that increasing exercise intensity is very different from spending more time exercising. Maximum results are achieved not necessarily by exercising more, but by exercising right.

In the previous articles you learned about the importance of workout intensity in fortifying muscle and boosting overall performance. While feeling the burn from lactic acid build up is a sign your muscles have crossed the aerobic line and have entered a more trans-formative anaerobic state, how many more repetitions you can finish while still maintaining acceptable form, before “muscle failure”, is entirely up to you. You will have to force these last 2 or 3 repetitions, but the rewards will be worth the huffing and puffing.

Everyone, even the most fit individuals, will reach muscle failure towards the end of a single series or set, but there is a way to add a couple more repetitions to boost muscle benefits without too much compromise on form and risking injury. All you need is an experienced training partner or “spotter”.

Your spotter’s job is to exert the least amount of effort required to help you complete another 2 to 3 repetitions in good form. Sometimes just seeing or faintly feeling someone help you with your barbell can cause a placebo-like effect on your muscles, giving them an extra push. Be cautious, however, as forced repetitions in poor form increases your risk of pulling a muscle and injuring yourself.

If you are new to bodybuilding, or to a particular kind of exercise or movement, forced repetitions are not recommended until you have mastered the proper form and the basic techniques of lifting weights safely. If you are already an intermediate lifter, you can take it up a notch by adding your forced repetitions to one exercise in the pre-exhaust sequence.