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The purpose of the following article is to educate readers on the different approaches to strength training.


  Strength Training Strength Training Exercises

Strength training exercises
Quadriceps (front of legs)
Squat (compound) Leg press (compound) Lunge (compound) Leg raise (compound) Leg extension (isolation)

Hamstrings (back of legs)
Deadlift (compound) Leg curl (isolation) Squat

Calf raise (isolation)

Pectorals (chest)
Bench press (compound) Dip (compound) Fly (isolation) Pec dec (isolation) Push Up (compound) Pullover (isolation)

Lats and trapezius (upper back)
Bent-over row (compound) Chin-up (compound) Pulldown (compound) Pullup (compound) Shoulder shrug (isolation)

Deltoids (shoulders)
Front raise (isolation) Handstand push-up (compound) Lateral raise (isolation) Military press (compound) Shoulder press (compound) Upright row (compound)

Triceps (back of arms)
Dip (compound) Pushdown (isolation) Triceps extension (isolation)

Biceps (front of arms)
Biceps curl (isolation)

Abdomen and obliques (belly)
Crunch (isolation) Sit-up (isolation) Leg raise (compound) (any rotational movement will engage the obliques) Exercise ball

Lower back
Back extension (isolation) Deadlift (compound) Good-morning (compound)

Advanced techniques

A number of techniques have been developed to make weight training exercises more intense, and thereby potentially increase the rate of progress. Many weight lifters use these techniques to bring themselves past a plateau, a duration where a weightlifter may be unable to do more lifting repetitions, sets, or use higher weight resistance.

Set structure

Drop sets
Drop sets do not end at the point of momentary muscular failure, but continue with progressively lighter weights.

Pyramid sets
In a pyramid the weight is first increased, and then decreased over a series of sets. A full pyramid typically includes five sets of approximately 12, 10, 8, 10 and 12 reps. The first two sets are performed with light to medium weights to warm up the muscles. The middle set is the work set, and uses the heaviest weight possible. The last two sets are drop sets, and further fatigue the muscle with progressively lighter weights. This technique provides a combination of volume and intensity, and is therefore popular with bodybuilders. However, the full pyramid may be too much for a beginner to handle, so it is only recommended for experienced trainers.

Burnouts combine pyramids and drop sets, working up to higher weights with low reps and then back down to lower weights and high reps.

Diminishing set
The diminishing set method is where a weight is chosen that can be lifted for 20 reps in one set, and then 70 repetitions are performed in as few sets as possible.[43]

Rest-pause (heavy singles)
Rest-pause heavy singles are performed at or near 1RM, with ten to twenty seconds of rest between each lift.[44] The lift is repeated six to eight times. It is generally recommended to use this method infrequently.

Combined sets

Supersets combine two or more exercises with similar motions to maximize the amount of work of an individual muscle or group of muscles. The exercises are performed with no rest period between the exercises. An example would be doing bench press, which predominantly works the pectoralis and triceps muscles, and then moving to an exercise that works just the triceps such as the triceps extension or the pushdown.

Push-pull supersets
Push-pull supersets are similar to regular supersets, but exercises are chosen which work opposing muscle groups. This is especially popular when applied to arm exercises, for example by combining biceps curls with the triceps pushdown. Other examples include the shoulder press and lat pulldown combination, and the bench press and wide grip row combination.

Pre-exhaustion combines an isolation exercise with a compound exercise for the same muscle group. The isolation exercise first exhausts the muscle group, and then the compound exercise uses the muscle group's supporting muscles to push it further than would otherwise be possible. For example, the triceps muscles normally help the pectorals perform their function. But in the "bench press" the weaker triceps often fails first, which limits the impact on the pectorals. By preceding the bench press with the pec fly, the pectorals can be pre-exhausted so that both muscles fail at the same time, and both benefit equally from the exercise.

Breakdowns were developed by Fred Hatfield and Mike Quinn to work the different types of muscle fibers for maximum stimulation. Three different exercises that work the same muscle group are selected, and used for a superset. The first exercise uses a heavy weight (~85% of 1 rep max) for around five reps, the second a medium weight (~70% of 1 rep max) for around twelve reps, and finally the third exercise is performed with a light weight (~50% of 1 rep max) for twenty to thirty reps, or even lighter (~40% of 1 rep max) for forty or more reps. (Going to failure is discouraged.) The entire superset is performed three times.

 Beyond failure

Forced reps
Forced reps occur after momentary muscular failure. An assistant provides just enough help to get the weight trainer past the sticking point of the exercise, and allow further repetitions to be completed. Weight trainers often do this when they are spotting their exercise partner. With some exercises forced reps can be done without a training partner. For example, with one-arm biceps curls the other arm can be used to assist the arm that is being trained.

Cheat reps
Cheating is a deliberate compromise of form to maximize reps. Cheating has the advantage that it can be done without a training partner, but compromises safety.

Rest-pause (post-failure)
After a normal set of 6-8 reps (to failure), the weight is re-racked and the trainer takes 10-15 deep breaths, and then performs one more repetition. This process can be repeated for two further repetitions. The twenty-rep squat is another, similar approach, in that it follows a 12-15 rep set of squats with individual rest-pause reps, up to a total of 20 reps.[46]

Negative reps
Negatives are performed with much heavier weights. Assistants lift the weight, and then the weight trainer attempts to resist its downward progress through an eccentric contraction. Alternatively, an individual can use an exercise machine for negatives by lifting the weight with both arms or legs, and then lowering it with only one. Or they can simply lower weights more slowly than they lift them: for example, by taking two seconds to lift each weight and four seconds to lower it.

Partial reps
Partial reps, as the name implies, involves movement through only part of the normal path of an exercise. Partial reps can be performed with heavier weights. Usually, only the easiest part of the repetition is attempted.

Burns involve mixing partial reps into a set of full range reps in order to increase intensity. The partials can be performed at any part of the exercise movement, depending on what works best for the particular exercise.[47] Also, the partials can either be added after the end of a set or in some alternating fashion with the full range reps.[48] For example, after performing a set of biceps curls to failure, an individual would cheat the bar back to the most contracted position, and then perform several partial reps.

Other techniques

Progressive movement training
Progressive movement training attempts to gradually increase the range of motion throughout a training cycle. The lifter will start with a much heavier weight than they could handle in the full range of motion, only moving through the last 3-5 of the movement. Throughout the training cycle, the lifter will gradually increase the range of motion until the joint moves through the full range of the exercise. This is a style that was made popular by Paul Anderson.

Super slow
Super slow repetitions are performed with lighter weights. The lifting and lowering phases of each repetition take 10 seconds or more.

Timed rests
By strictly controlling the rest periods between reps and sets a trainer can reduce their level of blood oxygenation, which helps to increase the stress on the muscles.

Wrist straps
Wrist straps (lifting straps) are sometimes used to assist in gripping very heavy weights. They are particularly useful for the deadlift. Some lifters avoid using wrist straps in order to develop their grip strength, just as some go further by using thick bars. Wrist straps can allow a lifter initially to use more weight than they might be able to handle safely for an entire set, as unlike simply holding a weight, if it is dropped then the lifter must descend with it or be pulled down. Straps place stress on the bones of the wrist which can be potentially harmful if excessive.


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