16 Fast Muscle Building Tricks

  1. Drop Sets
  2. Clusters
  3. Pause Reps
  4. Rest-Pause Reps
  5. Giant Sets
  6. Negatives
  7. Pre-Exhaust
  8. Negative Pre-Exhaust
  9. Post Exhaustion
  10. Mechanical Drop Sets
  11. Forced Reps
  12. Cheat Reps
  13. Peak Contraction
  14. 1½ Reps
  15. Partial Reps
  16. High Intensity Training

1. Drop Sets

To do the drop set trick…

Watch the video below for an example of Mike Rashid doing a bench press drop set where he starts off benching 405lbs for 6 reps before dropping down to doing 315lbs for 6 reps and then finally dropping down to 225lbs for 7 more reps…

Drop sets help you build muscle faster by making you DO MORE reps even after muscular failure where your muscles are so fatigued you can't do another rep.

Everytime you drop to a lighter weight you'll probably have to use a weight that's a least 10% lighter to allow you to do more reps.

Drop sets work best when you can quickly drop/lower the weight after you've done all the reps you possibly can so its best to have a partner nearby, have your weights already setup especially if you're by yourself or do drop sets on machines to quickly lower the weight.

2. Clusters

The cluster trick helps you build muscle faster by getting you to do at least 6-to-12 reps with your 5-Rep Max or the most weight you can lift 5 times in near perfect form.

To do the cluster trick…

Instead of doing 5 reps in a row with your 5-Rep Max, you only do 2-to-3 reps at a time, rest 10-to-30 seconds, do 2-to-3 more reps and you keep repeating that process until you're unable to get 2-to-3 reps.

Clusters can also be done with your 3RM by doing 1-to-2 reps at a time or with your 8RM by doing 4-to-6 reps at a time.

Sample clusters sets

Below is an example of the cluster trick used with bench pressing…

You can combine clusters with the rest-pause trick if you're having trouble getting the required number of reps in each cluster.

3. Pause Reps

Pause reps are where you pause for 2-to-5 seconds between the negative & positive parts of any exercise.

Pausing between the negative & positive parts of an exercise makes your muscles do 100% of the work without any extra help from momentum and The more your muscles work = the bigger & stronger they'll get.

Pause reps makes the weight you're lifting feel heavier because you have to rely on your muscles to do ALL the work.

Play the video below for examples of pause reps…

4. Rest-pause Reps

The rest pause trick helps you build muscle faster by doing more reps with the same weight you started with instead of using progressively lighter weights like you do in drop sets.

To do the rest pause trick…

The rest pause trick can be combined with forced reps or cheat reps trick to help you do even more reps. See the High Intensity Training trick

See an example of the rest-pause trick in the video below…

5. Giant Sets

Giant sets are when you do at least 2 exercises back-to-back with very little rest between exercises for the same bodypart(s) - for example…

For bigger triceps you could do a set of dips, close grip bench presses and overhead triceps extensions in any order without stopping with very little rest between exercises.

In the video below bodybuilder Michael Kowalski does a Giant Set for his shoulders where he does five shoulder exercises in a row without any rest…

Giant sets should be done at the end of your workout as the last 1-to-2 sets or as the only sets you do for a bodypart because they're so intense you normally may not be able to do more than 1-to-2 giant sets before your muscles are fully fatigued.

You can really increase the intensity of giant sets by doing a drop set for each exercise in the giant set. See the High Intensity Training trick

6. Negatives

What exactly are negatives?

Negatives or negative reps are the part of any weight training exercise where you're not doing any work where you're actually pushing or pulling so for example…

The negative trick (especially the heavy & super slow negative tricks) should only be done once every 1-to-2 weeks because of the time it takes to recover from them.

4 ways to do negatives to build muscle faster

1. Focus more on the negative

Make each rep more intense by focusing more on the negative part of the exercise by taking 5-to-10 seconds to complete the negative part of each rep so for example…

On the bench press you'd take 5-to-10 seconds to lower the weight down to your chest for each rep to get a better chest workout.

Quick tip: Combine the negative and pause rep tricks by taking 5-to-10 seconds on the negative part and then pausing for 2+ seconds before doing the positive part to make your muscles work harder leading to more muscle growth.

2. Heavy negatives

When you do heavy negatives you use heavy weights that are 90-to-130% of your 1-rep max and you do 3-to-8 negative reps lasting 5-to-15 seconds each.

Becasue you're doing 3-to-8 reps with a very heavy weight you can normally only lift 1 time… Heavy negatives will boost your strength to a point where you're able to lift heavier weights and/or do more reps when you go back to normal muscle building workouts

Since the weight will be too heavy for you to do the positive or the pushing or pulling part of the exercise by yourself you're going to need a partner or some way to quickly get the weight back into starting position to do another heavy negative rep without too much rest. Videos A, B & C below will give you examples of how to do that…

A. With a training partner

B. By Yourself

C. Unilaterally on a Machine

Consider doing super slow light negatives if you're alone.

3. Use negatives to do more reps

Once your muscles are exhausted after you've done as many normal reps as you possibly can… You can keep doing more negative only reps using the same weight to get a more intense muscle building workout but in order to do those extra negative reps…

4. Light or Super Slow negatives

You can do super slow negatives using lighter weights that are at least 60% of your 1-rep max where you would take 15-to-60 seconds to complete the negative part of each rep.

Super slow negatives are so intense you'll only be able to do 1-to-5 reps before you're unable to do each negative rep for more than 15 seconds. Quick tip: Use the rest-pause trick between each rep to help you do more than 1-to-5 super slow negative reps per set.

Unlike heavy negatives you probably wont need a partner or some way to lift the weight back into starting position because the weights are light enough for you to lift back into starting position on your own with very little or no cheating.

You can do super slow negatives to replace every rep you do but remember you'll probably get no more than 5 reps or you can do super slow negatives to do more reps after you've done as many normal reps you can possibly do.

Watch the video below for an example of super slow negatives…

7. Pre-exhaust

To do the pre-exhaust trick…

The pre-exhaust trick works best for lagging body parts or any muscle you're having a tough time making bigger by giving that muscle more attention with higher intensity for faster growth so let's say you're having a hard time getting bigger thigh muscles…

You must do a compound exercise after the isolation exercise because after you've exhausted the target muscle with the isolation exercise… You usually wont be able to do any reps with the target muscle unless you get help from the other muscles involved in the compound exercise.

When doing the pre-exhaust trick you can simply do all your sets of isolation exercises before doing all your compound sets or you can do giant sets of an isolation exercise immediately followed by a compound exercise.

Here's more examples of the pre-exhaust trick…

8. Negative Pre-exhaust

With the negative pre-exhaust trick you exhaust the muscle you're trying to target with at least 1 Super-slow 15-to-60 second negative rep instead of doing lots of reps with an isolation exercise like in the pre-exhaust trick

For example, To get bigger biceps using the negative pre-exhaust trick…

Watch the video below for more examples of the negative pre-exhaust trick…

9. Post Exhaust

Post exhaustion is the pre-exhaust trick done backwards for lagging body parts or any muscle you're having a tough time making bigger by giving that muscle more attention with higher intensity for faster growth.

To do the post-exhaust trick you start off doing a compound exercise for the muscle you want to target and then you post exhaust or continue working the target muscle with an isolation exercise for 8-to-25 reps.

When doing the post-exhaust trick you can simply do all your sets of compound exercises before doing all your isolation sets or you can do giant sets of a compound exercise immediately followed by a isolation exercise.

Examples…

10. Mechanical Drop Set

To do the mechanical drop set trick you change your form, stance, position or the angle of the exercise you're doing to gain a mechanical advantage that allows you to do more reps than you're normally capable of - for example…

Watch the video below for an example of mechanical drop sets being done by changing the angle of a bench…

The video below shows a mechanical drop set of going from a reverse bicep curl where you're using just your brachialis to a regular bicep curl where you're using your brachialis & biceps for more reps…

11. Forced Reps

To do the forced reps trick you'll need a partner to help you keep doing more reps after you've reached a point where you can't do any more reps on your own in near perfect form.

Play the video below for an example of the forced reps trick with bicep curls where your training partner helps you out after you're unable to do any more reps to force you into doing extra reps you otherwise would not have gotten on your own…

More examples of how to do forced reps…

Do Unilateral forced reps if you're alone

Unilateral forced reps is basically where you do forced reps by yourself doing unilateral exercises where you use only one arm or one leg to complete the exercise - for example…

Stop doing unilateral forced reps once it gets to the point where your non-working arm or leg is doing more than half of the work.

12. Cheat reps

Cheat reps are what you do when you are alone when you don't have a partner to help you do forced reps

To do the cheat reps trick…

You cheat a little bit by using bad form or extra momentum on an exercise to make you do more reps than you normally couldn't do on your own without cheating so for example…

When your muscles are exhausted after 5 reps of bicep curls in near perfect form you'd then cheat by using your back, hips & shoulders to help you do more than 5 reps.

Watch the video below for an example of the cheat reps trick…

Once you cheat TOO MUCH or once your form is so bad that all you are doing is bouncing, swinging, or using mostly momentum to move the weight then cheat reps are no good for building extra muscle.

More examples of how to do the cheat reps trick…

13. Peak contractions

The peak contraction trick is where you contract, squeeze or strongly flex the muscle you're working at the end of each rep for at least 2 seconds to make each rep more intense so for example…

When you do a bicep curl you'll contract or squeeze your biceps hard for at least 2 seconds at the top of the curl before you lower the weight back down.

Look at the video below to see more examples of how to do the peak contraction trick…

14. 1½ Reps

The 1½ Reps trick is another way like pause reps or negatives to make every rep you do more intense.

To do the 1½ Reps trick…

So lets go step-by-step using the bench press as an example…

15. Partial Reps

What exactly are partial reps?

A partial rep is anything less than a full rep so if you do a pushup without coming all the way down and touching your chest to the floor then that's a partial rep. Play the video below for examples of partial reps…

Once you've done all the normal full range of motion reps you can do… You can keep the set going by doing more partial reps.

You can do sets of only partial reps to get more reps than you normally would doing full reps because you're stronger (or have a mechanical advantage) towards the end or last ½ of a rep so for example…

You may be able to get 8 partial reps with your 3-Rep max or a weight you could normally only lift 3 times in the full range of motion.

16. High Intensity Training

High Intensity Training or HIT is when you combine 2 or more of the fast muscle building tricks on this page into one set and there's many ways to do this - for example…

You can combine the pause rep, forced reps & drop set tricks into 1 long high intensity set like this…

Depending on how many tricks you use, you're probably going to be limited to about 1-to-3 High Intensity Training sets per exercise or per bodypart.

Another good thing about High Intensity Training is that you can save time especially with compound exercises by doing ONLY one set for each bodypart like if you were to use the pause rep, forced reps & drop set trick in ONE set as seen in the example above

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There is 1 comment
Sorin

Excellent article! Thank you for sharing :)

August 11, 2017


Incorrect please try again
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