Intensity techniques for muscle growth

By Marwan / July 1, 2014

One of the things that I love about the bodybuilding sport is that there are many ways and techniques to make building muscles fun.  I am sure you are familiar with “partial reps”, “strip sets”, and “burns” in the bodybuilding lingo.

These are called intensity techniques and they allow you to put your body under a different kind of stress than what it is the norm.  You will see lots of guys in the gym knocking out 3 sets of 1o reps and then rack up the weight and move on to the next exercise.  If I am honest with you I rarely find bodybuilders that use some of these techniques.

Anybody can use these techniques but not many can use them to good effect.  What I will do is show you the techniques and not only that try and explain to you how to properly incorporate them into your programme.

There are so many that I can write an essay on it so I will go into the most effective ones and the ones that I have tried on myself.

  • Forced Reps – This is just about the most popular method as well as the most abused technique out there!!  This is where you see a group of bodybuilders hanging around by the bench press, usually acting as spotters for each other.  You will see guys using weights that are beyond what they can lift, but in order to complete the rep they use the spotter to help them complete the rep.  Usually shouts of “it’s all you” are heard!

Usually when this technique is used is to give the person confidence that a spotter is there in case anything untoward happens, usually allows them to go for more reps in the safe knowledge that if they tire before they complete the set somebody is there to help them so it is more of a mental thing really.

I use this technique sparingly because doing it excessively can delay your recovery.

  • Partials – This is one technique I use a lot in my training at the end of an exercise and only on the last set.  Basically if I cannot complete the rep using the full range of motion then I use whatever range I can to extend the set, and as I fatigue further the range gets shorter and shorter until I cannot move the weight any further.  It is very painful but also rewarding in that you go beyond what was previously failure for you.

Another way of using this technique is to use a power rack for exercises like bench press and squats, you are able to train at any level that you want with weights that are much heavier than you are able to do with a full range of motion.  Training with partials can help overcome plateaus.

  • Drop sets – This is going to failure with a weight that you can do X amount of reps with then dropping the weight by 10% and doing another set until failure, then dropping down again until you either achieve a target number of reps or sets.  In MI40 Coach Ben explains the benefits of using NOS technique.  I usually do a triple drop set at the end of the final set.

Another variety would be to use a what is called a mechanical drop set, which I will be going into in another article.

  • Rest pause method – This is extremely effective at building the Type II muscle fibers.  Here is how to do it, do a set to failure, rest 10-15 seconds then knock out another few reps until failure.

Depending on how much energy you’ve got and how far you want to push you can do this once or a few times.  I wouldn’t do it on every set just because you will exhaust yourself.

I have been doing this for a few weeks and it has certainly helped my strength and I seem to have got fuller as well.

It allows you to use heavier loads than you are otherwise capable of and still achieve hypertrophy as the time you put the muscle under tension will enable it to grow.

  • Strip sets – Used on barbells, to burn out the muscle.  Do a set then strip off the weight, do more reps and keep stripping as many times until you get to failure.  Very similar to the drop sets but with absolutely no rest.
  • Negatives or eccentric training – Absolutely brutal because it burns!! Research tells us that we are 175% stronger on the eccentric phase of the lift and that means that we are able to use heavier weights! The only downside is that you need a training partner or a spotter on most of the exercises and that you will be very sore the next day!!

Choose an exercise that allows you to be safe.  Here is an example of what I have done… dumbbell squats 4×2 reps with 20 second negative resting 2 minutes between sets, wide grip pull ups, 4 sets again 2 reps per set and 20 seconds tempo on the negative part of the lift (lowering).  Supported rows for the chest same again 4 sets, 2 reps, 20 second negatives and resting 2 minutes between sets.

I hope you enjoyed the article guys, leave me a comment below and let me know which method you use in your training.

Talk soon




About the author


Hi, my name is Marwan and I set up this site to help skinny guys and girls just like you to end their frustrations and have the body of their dreams. I believe there are no limitations to what mankind can achieve.