Advanced training techniques are options that you can strategically implement into your routine to increase the intensity of your workouts. I recommend that you master the basics of resistance training first, so that you can learn how to utilise rest periods effectively, choose the correct weights for your strength levels and track all of this accurately. However if you feel as though you have mastered all of this, and can confidently track your training sessions so that you can be progressively overloading every week, then these techniques are a fun and challenging way to up your training game!
A dropset is when you perform your programmed sets and repetitions at a challenging weight, and usually, only after the last set, you lower the weight and immediately perform another set of at least the same amount of repetitions, if not more. It is recommended that you drop the weight by 15-20% with each dropset, and perform only 1-2 dropsets.
For example, if you were to utilise this technique during your Dumbbell Shoulder Press, it would look like this:
This is a way to increase the intensity, as you are already close to being fatigued if you are using a challenging weight for your main sets, so you are then able to perform even more sets and reps by dropping the weight while keeping intensity high and form on point. Although this technique is a great way to push your muscles to their limits, progressive overload is still important. By recording the weight you use for your dropsets, as well as repetitions you perform, you can make sure that you are pushing a few more repetitions out or keeping a slightly higher weight to ensure you continue to progress.
Another thing to remember is that form is important, so if you are utilising this technique with bigger compound lifts, just ensure that you are not fatiguing to the point of losing your good form. It could be a good idea to use this method mostly for isolation movements.
A superset is when you perform two different exercises back to back, and then rest after you have completed both. You will generally keep the sets and repetitions of each exercise the same throughout each superset. This technique is a great way to maximise the time you have in the gym, as you are minimising the rest periods that you need. It also increases intensity due to the fact that your sets are longer, therefore you are working your muscles for longer. The two exercises in a superset will usually be using different prime movers, or agonist muscles (for example a bicep curl followed by a tricep extension). This is so that you can perform the exercises to your full potential, without having exhausted it in the previous exercise. However, if you are using this technique to gain intensity rather than save time, then you can use the same agonist muscle but make the exercise easier. For example, performing a squat followed by a leg press.
An example of a time-saving superset:
Once again, this training technique provides benefit to your program, however, it is important to ensure that you are tracking your rest and weights to ensure progressive overload!
A rest pause is when you perform as many repetitions of an exercise as you can (with good form), then rest for no more than 10 seconds, and attempt a few more repetitions. This technique is a great way to increase intensity as you are performing more repetitions than you would if you were to have just finished your set, however you are keeping the intensity high by not having a full rest period. The main thing is to ensure that you do not wait any more than 10 seconds (it is after all meant to be a ‘pause’) and keep your form perfect to not only protect yourself from injury but also get the most out of your rest pause.
An example of a rest pause would be:
Negatives (eccentric Training)
Utilising negatives is a great way to build strength, however it is important to note than it can be dangerous in some exercises due to the amount of strain being placed on the muscles, so avoid using this technique with especially heavy loads and I recommend it only for advanced trainers. The negative (or eccentric) part of a movement is when you are stretching the muscle being worked (for example the lowering of a dumbbell in a bicep curl or lowering down in a squat). The positive (or concentric) part of the movement is when your muscles are contracting (for example the curl in a bicep curl or standing up out of a squat). So negatives mean that you use a heavier weight than you could use for full reps, to only perform the eccentric movement. This is usually done with a spotter, so they can help you through the concentric phase.
An example if you were to use this technique in a leg press -
You would load the leg press with more than you can do for 5 repetitions. You slowly lower the weight down toward you, then a spotter helps you to push the weight back up. You repeat this for up to 8 repetitions, or until your eccentric phase starts to fatigue.
Although you are not strengthening the concentric movement to your full potential, you are definitely strengthening the eccentric movement. If you are training alone, then another example would be the pull up:
You can jump up to the top of your pull up, then lower back down very slowly to keep all the muscles engaged.
This technique is great to utilise occasionally if you feel as though your strength has plateaued for a few weeks, however only use it sporadically as it is very difficult to track your progress using it!
I hope that this has helped you to gain better insight into terms that are often used in the gym, and that you feel more confident in your understanding of the technical aspects of training. The information in this blog refers to some advanced lifting concepts, but if you aren’t ready for this I’ve got you! My programs have helped thousands of girls get comfortable and confident in the gym, so no matter where you are on your fitness journey I can support you. Myself and my fantastic team are focussed on educating and helping you achieve your goals, ensuring that you enter the gym with confidence every single time.