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Summer Shape-Up: 10 Tips to Better Weight Training

Posted: 06/14/2012 8:33 am

If you lift weights, you need to constantly change your routine in order to burn fat faster and challenge your muscles. In other words, you need to throw your body some curveballs.

But aside from simply adding additional weight to the exercises you're doing, are there other ways you can make a weight lifting workout more effective?

You bet!

Here are the top 10 techniques to maximize your weight training results:

1. Bounce

Bouncing involves doing mini-reps at the very end of the range of motion (ROM) of your exercise. For example, the end ROM of a body weight squat is when your knees are bent, at the very bottom of the squat. At this point in the squat, you could do five to 10 "mini-reps" or very short, bouncy squats. Bouncing also works for push-ups, crunches, lunges, curls, and just about any basic movement.

2. Explosions

For explosions, you hold an exercise in the toughest position, then explode quickly out of it, then get back into that toughest position. For example, when you get to the bottom of a push-up, you can hold for one to two seconds, then push-up as fast as possible (your hands can even leave the ground) and land back in the bottom of the push-up.

3. Quarter Reps

Adding a quarter rep adds difficulty to any exercise. For example, when performing a lunge, stop when your knee is halfway bent, stand halfway, then continue through the lunge, which basically turns every one rep into 1.5 reps.

4. Ladder Reps

For ladder reps, do five mini-reps in the bottom range of motion, five mini-reps in the middle range of motion, and five mini-reps in the top range of motion. For example, for a body weight dip, you would do five reps with your elbows bent at the bottom of the dip, five reps in the middle of the dip, and then five reps at the top of the dip.

5. Stripping

No, it's not what you're thinking. Stripping involves lifting a weight until you cannot perform any more reps, then decreasing (stripping) down to a lower weight, and continuing with the same exercise for as many repetitions as possible with that new, lower weight. In one single set, you can strip the weight from an impressive starting weight to a tiny, embarrassingly small weight that still makes you grunt and groan.

6. Supersets

To do a superset, perform an exercise set immediately after a different exercise set, with no rest in between. There are three different types of supersets. In the first, you do a set for one muscle group, such as leg extensions for your quadriceps, then with no rest, do a set for the opposing muscle group, such as leg curls for your hamstrings. In the second, you perform both sets for the same muscle group, such as chest flies followed by chest presses. The third type of superset is a triple or quadruple superset, in which you perform three to four back-to-back exercises for the same muscle group, such as triceps pushdowns to narrow grip push-ups to dips to triceps overhead extensions.

7. Super-Slow Sets

In a super-slow set, you perform your reps in a very slow controlled manner. Though super-slow training can be a waste of time to do all the time, if something like a regular push-up is very easy for you, try to do a push-up with a four-count down and a four-count back up.

8. Forced Reps

Forced reps are exercises that are assisted by a training partner, also called a spotter. They are typically performed with a much heavier weight than you could normally lift on your own, or significantly more repetitions than you could do by yourself. As you reach failure, your spotter helps you, or forces you, to complete the set.

9. Negatives

To do a negative set, you slowly lower a heavier weight than you would normally use, and either "cheat" (see below) to raise the weight back up, or have a partner help you. For example, if you are trying to increase the amount of weight you can bench press, you would slowly lower a very heavy weight to your chest, then have a spotter grab the bar and assist you in getting the weight back up to the starting position.

10. Cheating

Usually, attention to good form is crucial when you're lifting weights. But sometimes you can get a little extra bang for your buck by cheating. This may involve rocking back and forth with your body, arching your back, or using an extra part of your body to perform an exercise. For example, if you are pressing a weight overhead with one arm, you may jump, arch, or use the opposing arm to help you out just a bit. This isn't recommended as part of your normal routine, but it's a good crutch to have if you're pushing yourself to the next level in your weight training.

Missed It? You can still participate in the 30-Day Summer Shape Up:


If you need some weight lifting workout ideas, then head over to the strength training section of the Get-Fit Guy web site, where I have lots of free workouts for many different fitness levels that you can use anytime, anyplace!

Ben Greenfield is the author of Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body -- A Workout Plan for Your Unique Shape.

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