Forced Reps – A HIT Advanced Training Technique
Are you ready to add some focus and advanced technique to your workout? Over the next several months, we’ll be diving in to several advanced techniques available for the HIT method of strength training. Check out our master list to see them all. This week, we’re going to take a look at Forced Reps.
What Are Forced Reps?
Forced reps are a technique that allows you to get a few more repetitions out of an exercise to increase muscular fatigue, and it requires the assistance of a trainer. As outlined in the book “Maximize Your Training; Insights from Leading Strength and Fitness Professionals” edited by Matt Brzycki, you perform your set as normal until you reach momentary muscular failure. This is the point at which you can no longer perform another repetition properly. At that point, the trainer will offer assistance to perform between 3-5 additional post-fatigue repetitions. For this to provide the proper additional benefit, you must be sure that you are working hard when you both lift and lower the weight. (The lifting portion is known as the concentric phase of the rep, and the lowering portion is known as the eccentric phase.) The trainer should really be giving only just enough assistance to allow the weight to move at all.
Why Perform Post-Fatigue Reps?
The secret in the sauce of the forced reps technique is the ability to add a few post-fatigue reps to your routine. Remember, the entire purpose of doing any resistance training or strength training regimen is to cause an overload in the muscles. If the workout is getting easier as you get stronger, then you aren’t getting as much benefit from it anymore and you need to turn up the intensity by working against greater resistance, doing more reps, and continuing to improve your form. You need to be aiming not to move the weight each set, but to contract the muscle against the resistance and provide the muscle with an overload to create a stimulus so it has a reason to change. Why an overload? Because you need to push the muscle past what it can currently do in order to increase what it can do. Dr. Robert Golding is credited as saying: “We used to think the body was like a motor, but it isn’t. If you have a 10 h.p. motor and put a 12 h.p. load on it, you’ll burn the motor out. But put a 12 h.p. load on a 10 h.p. body and you’ll end up with a 12h.p. body!”
Proper Form on a Forced Rep Set
It is important to remember that the goal of a forced rep is to achieve deeper muscular fatigue–the technique allows you to dig deeper into the energy reserves that are still available even after you are no longer capable of performing a rep using good form and a controlled motion. The trainer assisting should only give a few pounds of assistance to the resistance to provide just enough to make it possible for the resistance to move. You should only perform a small amount of forced reps, no more than about 5, or you risk causing an injury. As with any advanced training technique, it’s important to only do the amount of work that you can recover from. The change in your muscles happens during the recovery phase, and if you don’t give yourself adequate time to recover, you’re just breaking your muscles down over and over without letting them build back up again.
To talk about adding forced reps to your routine, talk to a trainer at Vertex Fitness.