Q: Could you fill me in on some of the most effective training principles and how to apply them for max muscle growth in a minimal amount of time?
A: I've relied on a number of Weider Training Principles since the very beginning of my bodybuilding career. Here are five of the techniques that I have used with consistent success.
Forced Reps Training Principle
This is one of my favorite training principles, as it's an excellent way to extend a set beyond failure. Here's how it works for incline barbell presses, for example. During incline barbell presses, I often reach failure at the eighth repetition. Failure means being unable to complete another rep with that maximum weight -- it does not mean that I've depleted all of my strength. To put the forced reps principle into action, my training partner places his hands under the bar to provide me with only the assistance -- and no more than that -- needed to keep the bar moving. In this manner, I can complete another two assisted reps and take the muscles beyond their normal point of failure.
Rest-Pause Training Principle
Once again, the rest-pause principle is employed at the end of a set to push the muscles past their normal point of failure. For machine military presses to the front, for instance, I work to failure (usually around the eighth rep), then instead of stepping away from the bench, I sit there and rest for 10 seconds to recoup strength. Then I press out one more rep, rest another 10 seconds and press out one final rep. Rest-pause is a terrific strength builder, especially if you don't have a reliable training partner to help you with forced reps.
Descending Sets Training Principle
I employ this principle for exercises with which forced reps are difficult and impractical. Here's how it works for seated dumbbell curls, for instance. For my main set, I work to failure with my standard set of dumbbells. At that point, I put the dumbbells down, grab a lighter pair of dumbbells and pump out another two reps. After another two reps as I hit failure again, I grab an even lighter set and grind out another two reps. This is a way to extend the set and work the muscles to the max.
Partial Reps Training Principle
This is another way to extend a set for exercises that don't lend themselves to forced reps. Dumbbell side laterals are an exercise for which I often use partial reps. As I reach failure on a set of this exercise, rather than ending the set, I continue to raise the dumbbells as high as my strength will allow -- typically, it's three-quarters of a full movement or slightly higher. I manage that movement for a couple of reps and then continue for a couple of half reps and then quarter reps until my delts are fully fatigued.
Reverse-Gravity Training Principle
This principle, also known as negative reps, extends a set beyond failure and more fully works the muscle fibers used during the negative (usually the descending) part of a rep. Here's how I employ it for triceps pushdowns. Once I reach failure, my partner assists in lifting the stack until my arms are at the lockout position. My triceps are pretty much fried at this point, so the weight feels heavier than what my tris can typically handle. From the fully locked-out position, I start to release the weight very, very slowly, fighting the stack all the way down. The key is to lower the weight as slowly as possible in order to really burn the muscles. Negative reps will help you work through a sticking point (poundages lifted for a particular number of reps), but for safety reasons, I recommend limiting this principle to machine movements.