There are many types of terminology used in workout articles such as forced reps, negatives, and other concepts. But not every article takes the time to explain the specifics about these concepts; it is sometimes expected that you will already know. This article is covering the basic idea behind forced reps, why you should use them, when you should use, and when you shouldn’t use them.
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The basic premise of a forced repetition is to use some manner of assistance to help a person complete additional repetitions beyond what their body is normally capable of doing on its own. The concept has been around for quite a long time and bodybuilders and weightlifters over the past few decades regularly employ this technique in their training programs.
The viewpoint on forced reps is that you can push your muscles beyond the point of failure by cranking out additional repetitions with help. While you might only be lifting 80% of the weight at this time, ideally your muscles are still giving 100% effort. If you can get 5 reps on your own and then an additional 3 forced reps you would hope to gain strength so that the next workout you would be able to do 6 or 7 reps on your own.
Forced reps are done by having a training partner assist on a lift as little as possible, even just touching the bar with fingertips to help it move when stuck. The person doing the exercise should be pushing with everything they have. Typically the more forced reps you do, the more the partner has to help before the muscles are completely exhausted.
Why Should You Use Them?
After a certain point you will find that your muscles do not respond to simply pushing them to failure. When you first start working out it seems like just walking into the gym can cause gains in size and strength. But after your body grows stronger, it also develops a level of endurance and adapts to the amount of stress you place on it.
At that point you are typically considered an intermediate or advanced lifter and you have to begin looking at other ways to shock and stress your muscles into growing bigger and stronger. People utilize techniques like forced reps, drop sets, and other ‘intensity techniques’ to help push past the barrier of resistance and cause change and development.
When Should You Use Them?
Forced reps, like most intensity techniques, are an occasional use type of technique. You should not use them on every set for every exercise and during every training session. Using techniques such as these push your muscles much further than they can handle. While that stress will cause strength gains and growth, too much would be detrimental overall and be difficult to recover from.
Ideally you might use forced reps on you last set of the primary compound exercise for that day. For example on chest day you might use forced reps on your heaviest bench press set. But you wouldn’t want to use forced reps on your bench press, chest flyes, and then incline presses in the same session. You also don’t want to use them every session because then your body can get over trained.
You should also only used forced reps with a training partner. You pretty much can’t do them without a partner but it is not a good idea to just grab the nearest guy and ask for help. You want someone who is on the same page as you for how to spot, how much help to give, and how far to push you.
When Shouldn’t You Use Them
Forced reps are a bad idea on days when you are tired or low energy. They are also a bad idea on days when you don’t feel at maximum strength. Basically you use them to push yourself further than your body can handle and you need to be at 100% physically and mentally before doing that to yourself. Otherwise your body will have a hard time recovering and growing properly.
You also shouldn’t do them on lifts that put you in a dangerous position should your muscles give out completely. Exercises such as squats and leg presses can be dangerous without proper use of safety measures such as using a cage with rails set high enough or having stop blocks on the leg press. When you do forced reps your muscles can just give out and even with a spotter if the weight is in a compromising position you could be in trouble.