Forcing The Issue: Forced Reps and Rest-Pause Training

forced rest pause training

The point of bodybuilding training is to continually challenge the body to perform in new ways. We do this by presenting it with new challenges. Different exercises, exercise order, set or repetition schemes, and total poundage used. It’s an ongoing battle between our minds and our muscles. If we cannot find new ways to stimulate growth, the muscles win, and we don’t grow. However, if we can continually ‘trick’ the muscles into facing new challenges by mixing things up, growth is achieved. Two common rep-forcing practices are employed to trick the body into performing beyond its capabilities, and therefore into growing.

Forced Repetitions
This technique requires a spotter. Complete your set as normal, until you can no longer complete another repetition. Then, have the spotter remove pressure from the bar to move some of the weight for you. Instead of trying to bench press another repetition with 200 pounds, which you are no longer capable of, you will suddenly only be benching 180 pounds, as the slight pull on the bar by the spotter will remove approximately 20 pounds of resistance. Complete 2 to 3 more repetitions of approximately 180 pounds until you fail. Then have the spotter pull on the bar a tad harder. Suddenly you’re only benching 150 pounds, and you can complete 2-3 more repetitions. Complete those repetitions.

Forced reps employ a very inexact science. It’s impossible to know precisely how much poundage your spotter is removing from the workload. However, given time and practice together, the two of you can work out pulling methods to estimate the amount of weight being assisted, and more consistent spotting can emerge as a result. Additionally, be wary of over training when using this method. It’s very taxing for the central nervous system (CNS) to be trained in such a manner. Don’t use forced repetitions every workout or you might find progress beginning to stall.

Rest/Pause Training
This is a forced repetition scheme that you can employ without a training partner. Complete your normal set (of chin ups, for example). Rest for ten seconds. Then complete as many repetitions as you can (perhaps 3 more chin-ups). Rest for 10 or 15 seconds. Complete as many additional reps as you can. Continue this for a full minute. You might only be able to add a total of 8 or 10 more repetitions, but your muscles will be completely taxed and engorged with blood. You should only use this technique at the end of a routine, as the intensity of it may make it dangerous to attempt additional standard sets afterwards.