Body Building Resources

Weight Training Techniques - 7 Techniques To Boost Muscle Gains
By Jean Lam

Out of your normal weight training routine which can consist of several sets per muscle group and between 30-60 seconds of rest in between sets and which can go on and on for several weeks or months, it's good to change your workout routine at times to break the stale workout and monotony which results. There are several weight training techniques which you can incorporate in your workout to make it more challenging and even skyrocket your muscle building gains through the roof. Here are 7 weight training techniques:

(1) Supersets

Supersets is a type of weight training technique which involves two or more exercises of the same or different body parts and are performed one after the other with no rest. After the initial 2 exercises, you can rest for a little while like 45 seconds, then repeat. For example, you can do a barbell curl followed by a preacher curl or a barbell curl followed by a lying triceps extension. When you repeat, you can change the exercises if you want.

For biceps

Barbell curls
Preacher curls


Alternate dumbbell curls
Concentration curls


Hammer curls
Seated incline dumbbell curls

Total supersets: 3


For biceps and triceps combined

Barbell curls
Lying triceps extension


Alternate dumbbell curls
Overhead triceps extension


Preacher curls
Triceps cable push down


Hammer curls
Close grip bench press(targeting triceps)


Concentration curls
Triceps kickback


Seated incline dumbbell curls
Lying triceps extension

Total supersets: 6

You should use weights heavy enough which allow you to do in the 8-10 repeats per set and you should perform those supersets in the recommended range. The usual number of sets for biceps and triceps is in the 9-12 sets respectively. These muscles are categorized as small muscle groups so they are easily worked out to exhaustion. The advantage with supersets is you can work out more muscles in less time.

There are also isolation supersets and compound supersets which I am going to explain.

Isolation supersets

Now that you know what supersets are, you should already get an idea what isolation supersets might be. As you might know, an isolation exercise focuses on a specific muscle group for example, the preacher curl focuses on the biceps and isolates that muscle. So isolation supersets would be like performing two or more isolation exercises one after the other. Then a short pause just like above. This superset is not an isolation superset for instance:

Preacher curls
Close grip bench press(targeting triceps)

since close grip bench press is a compound exercise as it targets several other muscles. It's a mixture of isolation and compound superset which we will talk about after.

Example of isolation supersets

Preacher curls
Concentration curls

Barbell curls
Lying triceps extension

Compound supersets

Now you might already have an idea what this means. Exercises which will be included in compound supersets will be those which target several muscle groups at a time. Compound supersets can be challenging as it requires strength. If you are already good at isolation exercises and you've built great strength, you can do compound exercises and compound supersets with more confidence. Not recommended for beginners.

Example of compound supersets

Bench press
Incline bench press

Bench press
Bent over rows


Pull ups
Lat pull down

(2) Giant Sets

Giant sets include targeting the same muscle group with several exercises and sets as follows. Say you are training shoulders, this is how your workout can be like. Well you can adjust it for your own needs. With giant sets, you can use weights which are a bit less than what you will normally use.

Dumbbell press or military press
Bent over lateral raise
Front lateral raise
Side lateral raise

Do like 8-10 repeats and move on to the next exercise as soon as you finish. After completing the four exercises, rest a bit like 60 seconds and repeat. You can do like 4 giant sets and your shoulders will be "on fire".

(3) Drop Sets

Drop sets mean starting with heavier weights and move down to lighter weights in a progressive fashion. Like starting with 40 pound dumbbell, then 36, 32 and so on, well it depends on your lifting ability, you might be able to start with heavier or lighter. Drop sets allow you to continue lifting because if you were to only lift with 40 pound dumbbell(and that 40 pound dumbbell is not your usual weight but bit heavier), you wouldn't be able to pump out as many sets as you could if you shift to lighter dumbbells progressively.

(4) Twenty Ones

Twenty ones is a technique which allows for 21 repeats in one single exercise. For you to better understand this, here is an example with a barbell curl exercise. When you are raising the barbell up to your chest, lower it down halfway(like not doing a full range motion barbell curl), then up again to your chest. Do this 7 times. Now immediately after this, start raising the barbell but not up to your chest but halfway now then lower it down till your arms are stretched. Do this for 7 times as well. Complete this exercise with another 7 repeats but this time doing a full range motion like you would usually perform for barbell curls. Why the name twenty ones is because you perform an exercise with 21 repeats(3 * 7). This name was given by bodybuilders. Twenty ones can increase strength and in the barbell curl scenario, it will build more tendon and ligament strength. The twenty ones weight training technique includes partial reps which we are going to cover just after.

(5) Partial Reps

Partial reps like its name says means doing an exercise partially and not completely. If you take the above example with twenty ones, stopping an exercise midway means performing a partial rep. Some bodybuilders use partial reps to allow them to pump out more repeats if they can't do a full range motion repeat due to muscle exhaustion. Will also build more strength.

(6) Negatives

To give you an idea what negatives mean, consider the barbell curl example in technique 4 which is twenty ones. When you raise the barbell up to your chest, you will need to lower it down till your arms are stretched, well this is called the negative part of the exercise. When you focus on the negative part of the exercise, you will perform this movement slowly to maximize gains and strength as well.

(7) Forced Reps

Forced reps usually require a lifting partner who helps you in your last painful repeats which you can hardly perform. It's like training to failure. That helping hand will allow you to squeeze out a few more repeats which you wouldn't be able to do on your own.

These 7 weight training techniques can bring a big difference in your muscle building goals and if you can include them from time to time and change your normal routine, you can break through a plateau. In addition, this can also give you added motivation and more muscle gains. Do it for like 2 weeks, then resume your usual workout.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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