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How to modify your workouts (part II)

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In the first article, we took a look at 4 bread and butter ways to modify your workout.  If you’re still not satisfied, and you want more, here are four additional ones you should take a look at.


A negative is the use of excess weight that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to lift without a partner.  The goal here is to have your partner help you push the weight up, which you would then fight against as hard as possible in order to get a good eccentric contraction (The muscle lengthens while contracting, the load on the muscle is greater than the force produced by the muscle).  You might also use a cheat movement in order to get the weight into a position you could push against.  This movement typically causes poor form, and it’s important that you don’t hurt yourself.

Example:  You’re capable of doing Wide Grip Preacher Curls up to 8 reps of a weight.  On the 9th rep, your partner would help you bring the weight up, but would either pull, or allow gravity to fight against you on the way down.  In this way you can get a couple more reps in to fatigue your muscle just a little bit more.

Changing the speed of your rep:

Slowing your concentric contraction (When your muscle is shortening and contracting, the “up” movement), speeding your concentric contraction, or slowing the eccentric contract (When your muscle is elongating and contracting, the “down” movement), can really give you a different feel, and work your muscles in a different way that might help stimulate growth, and be a little more interesting.

Example: Let’s say you’re doing Close Grip Bench Press.  You might consider doing an explosive push upward, and counting 4-5 seconds on the return toward your chest.  Alternatively, you might do a 4-5 count on the way up.  In this way, you’re putting a different emphasis on the muscles worked, and changing the load to different myocytes (Muscle cells).  This can help with growth!


These types of exercises typical wind up working your ancillary muscle groups more than the main muscle group, but if this is what you’re trying to strengthen a bit more, then it may be helpful.  The reason to do this is so that you fatigue your muscle before a bout of pretty heavy weight, in order to give your body a heavier load on the stabilizing muscles.  For example:

If you’re looking to really hit your shoulders harder, you might try to do Plate Front Raises followed by Seated Military Press.  This will hit your deltoids, but put a high demand on your front delts (Due to Seated Military Press).

Forced Repetitions:

This is last on the list for a reason.  There is no need to do forced repetitions if you’re not a power lifter, or a chiseled statue of David.  If you haven’t been lifting for at least 5 years, and you don’t use proper form, simple don’t consider this at all.  There are other things (above) that would be better.  Forced Repetitions are very similar to negatives, and can only be properly done with a partner.  A forced repetition is when your partner aids your in lifting the weight for the last few reps, or for a certain number of reps, in order to put a high load on the muscle and tendon.  It goes without saying, that anytime you use this kind of modification, make sure you trust your partner, and you’ve communicated beforehand what you’re going to be doing.

Remember that these are more advanced techniques, with Part I holding the key to most of your variation.  With that, I hope that you can turn your stagnant workouts into a more interesting and challenging endeavor.  As always, we’re rooting for you as you work toward your goals!

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