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Strength Training Equipment
The purpose of the following article is to educate
readers on the different approaches to strength training.
Strength Training Strength Training
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)
Calf raise (isolation)
Bench press (compound) • Dip (compound) •
Fly (isolation) •
(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)
Front raise (isolation) •
Handstand push-up (compound) •
(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)
Back extension (isolation) • Deadlift (compound) • Good-morning (compound)
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.
Drop sets do not end at the point of momentary muscular failure, but
continue with progressively lighter weights.
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
Burnouts combine pyramids and drop sets, working up to higher weights with
low reps and then back down to lower weights and high reps.
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.
Rest-pause (heavy singles)
Rest-pause heavy singles are performed at or near 1RM, with ten to twenty
seconds of rest between each lift. The lift is repeated six to eight
times. It is generally recommended to use this method infrequently.
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 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.
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.
Cheating is a deliberate compromise of form to maximize reps. Cheating has
the advantage that it can be done without a training partner, but
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
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, 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. Also, the partials can either be added after the end of a
set or in some alternating fashion with the full range reps. 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.
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 repetitions are performed with lighter weights. The lifting and
lowering phases of each repetition take 10 seconds or more.
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 (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