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Training Intensifiers and How to Utilise Them

Training Intensifiers and How to Utilise Them

Are you always leaving your sessions feeling as if you could have given slightly more? Feeling as if you’re completing set after set to no avail? Well look no further as this short article will touch on the various training intensifiers (methods in which to accrue more intensity/volume throughout a set), what they are and how to utilize them efficiently in your training.



One of the most commonly used intensifiers in training, but are you utilizing them properly? A superset refers to two exercises performed in immediate succession with no rest in between, these exercises should be kept to isolation/ machine exercises only as doing this with compound movements can be extremely dangerous and also impede recovery. Supersets are especially useful in accumulating volume over a short period of time, they can also be extremely beneficial for creating sufficient stimulus when there is a lack of equipment available. A good example of a superset would be leg extensions with a bodyweight lunge.


Drop sets

This type of training intensifier refers to the process of gradually reducing the load of an exercise once a certain failure point has been reached, this is an example of extending the set in order to accrue more volume per set. Much like supersets, these can be useful when running short on time or equipment and should be used on smaller movements such as lateral raises, bicep curls, leg extensions etc. There are usually no given rep ranges for these as in order to progress through the set, a failure point must first be reached.


Cluster sets

These sets are those that are broken down into mini sets in order to reach a set rep goal, these sets are efficient in order to reach a given rep goal without reducing load, instead incorporating a small rest period in between subsets, unlike a drop set or superset these can be carried out with bot compound and/or isolation work. For example, squatting 100kg for 10 reps can be broken down into two smaller sets of 5 reps with a short rest period in between, thus accumulating more volume and maintaining intensity with a load that may not have been accomplished for a straight set of 10 reps. Another example of  type of cluster set would be a Muscle Round/ MR, where a set is broken up into 6 sub sets of 4 repetitions, following each 4 rep set, a short rest of around 10 seconds is taken


Rest-Pause sets

These sets are almost identical to cluster sets as they incorporate a small intra set break (typically between 10 and 30 seconds), however they do have one small difference, this being that a point of true failure (where no more repetitions can be performed fully) must first be reached before the intra set break can occur, this is an exceptionally hard form of extending the set and caution should be taken in regards to form consistency throughout the set.


Rep timings

A method that is diverse for all lifts and that can be especially useful when looking to improve execution and stability during an exercise, timing the eccentric and concentric phase of an exercise along with a timed pause at the bottom of the rep (when the muscle is at its most lengthened position) is another exceptionally grueling, yet effective way of alternate loading. For example, as opposed to squatting 100kg for 8 repetitions, one could squat 90kg for 8 repetitions with a 3 second eccentric, 1 second pause and a 2 second concentric, this allows one to spend a lot more time in the eccentric phase, where the muscle is lengthening and more muscle fibre tears occur. This method of loading is great for core stability and improving strength throughout all portions of a movement. It is especially prominent in compound movements such as the squat but can be applied to any movement.


By Tireoghain O’Neill



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