Time to Get Intense!

Now we’re going to get really intense, as intense as this guy –

Mr Intense? Never mind!

OK, maybe not that intense you’ll undoubtedly be pleased to hear.

For most of you reading this blog performing basic strength or muscle building routines such as those outlined in my book “Becoming Mighty” is the way to go, but when you reach an advanced level of training then certain intensification techniques can help you move to the next level.

In episode 21 of The Mighty Cast Nick and I looked at all kinds of intensification techniques of which I am going to list my favourite 3 here. For further information please download Mighty Cast 21 below:

  1. Use of Accommodating Resistance:
    Wow what a shocker! Chris the Powerlifter going on about bands and chains yet again!I know, I’m so on Louie’s nuts, but as I have mentioned in this blog, and in previous podcasts I believe the next big thing – as if it’s not already, is Accommodating Resistance. In 10 years’ time people will wonder how anyone ever became strong without it.Accommodating Resistance means that tension increases as the lever becomes more favourable to the lifter. If I use the example of bands to illustrate this; If you are to Squat with what we can straight weight (weight on a barbell) then the toughest point is in the hole (maximum knee bend), as the lifter ascends the movement becomes easier. By adding bands to the Barbell we make the easy locking out phase tougher due to the stretch in the bands.Bands and chains can be used in Max Effort work, Dynamic Effort, and Heavy Repeated Effort training. Please remember that this is for advanced lifters only, and Accommodating Resistance only applies to certain exercises.
  2. Use of Extended Sets – reducing weight:
    When some lifters ask me “should I use heavy weight, or perform high reps” I mischievously answer “yes”.Extended sets allow you to do both. By reducing weight you can start with a high load and complete a good amount of reps. A death set of Squats I remember performing a few years ago went something like this -220kg (around 95% 1RM) x 1 – 2 x 20kg plates removed from the bar without re-racking180kg x 6 – 2 x 20kg plates removed from the bar without re-racking140kg x 6 – 2 x 20kg plates removed from the bar without re-racking100kg x 7 – I think I died at this point!If you ask how many sets I did of this then I hereby instruct you to give yourself a good slap! You only do this on your final set, and only when the exercises which follow aren’t going to be severely affected by such madness.I would not schedule such a session; this type of thing tends to happen on a whim when you’re feeling a little, or more than a little mad.


Dave Tate performing a very nasty strip set

  • Use of Extended Sets – reducing range of motion (ROM):
    It’s not an easy choice for my third option but I have made it, and I love this variant.This only works for a few exercises but 2 of those are Box Squats and Bench / Board Presses. What I sometimes do with my “normal” clients is tell them to keep Box Squatting on their final set, and when their form starts to break I’ll put another mat on the box; you know those mats, the mats that normal people use to lay on the floor and do some useless joke of an exercise with! It’s amazing how easy it is to extend a set using this technique.With Benching and Board Presses you need a good and alert training partner. My Buddy Dante was Bench Pressing today and after he maxed out he dropped the weight to 70kg and did 8 reps, I put a 1 Board on his chest and he did a couple more, I flipped to a 2 Board and Dante did another couple; finally we finished with 4 Boards for another 3 reps. This meant that instead of performing a set of 8 Dante ended up doing 16. Sure it was tough, it hurt, but a good amount of extra work was performed.

Finally I have to re-iterate that most of these techniques are for advanced trainees only; sure I don’t mind if a kid wants to extend his final set of Cable Curls but please don’t go using bands and chains until you have a 140kg (70kg for women) Squat, 110kg Bench (50kg for women), or equivalent.

Pete performing Chaos Bench at Darkside with a nasty old bastard watching on!

Remember that the goal is to keep the goal the goal, but so long as you’re sensible these techniques can really add some spice to your training.

Be Mighty,
Chris