Forced Reps for Strength

Did you know performing forced repetitions doesn’t aid in increasing strength? Performing repetitions beyond the point of failure in a set to “force” your muscles beyond what they’re capable of is a common practice. Researchers at the School of Human Movement Studies at Charles Hurt University used 22 subjects in a recent study to help determine if forced reps are useful. The researchers found an absence of strength or power gains when the number of forced reps were increased and the training volume was held constant. They also found that increasing the number of forced reps and the training volume did not enhance strength or power. The results question the efficacy of using forced repetitions to increase strength or power. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research. 2007; 21(3): 841-847)

Personally I take this study and many like it with a grain of salt. Studies like this one rarely use advanced lifters, and in most cases do not have somebody overseeing the training who actually knows what the hell they’re doing. Where these subjects given ample opportunity to recover? No they weren’t. Each group performed the bench press three times per week utilizing forced reps with multiple sets, which is outrageous and completely ignorant. Training the same body part three days per week is entirely too much for anyone to recover from, especially with an advanced technique like forced reps. It doesn’t take a study to concluded the researchers training protocol would yield a negative result. Where they getting the nutrition they needed? It’s not mentioned in the study, but I would bet the farm they weren’t. these were just two of many question needed to be asked while reading this study.

The biggest issue when employing forced reps without a doubt is recovery. Forced reps performed correctly make huge inroads to ones ability to recover. Anything you do to make your training harder (not longer) will require more attention to recovery. Over-training is by far the biggest training mistake I see in the gym.

WARNING: These types of training techniques are not suited for beginners, and should be used by intermediates sparingly. Not because of injury or lack of effect, but simply because they aren’t necessary. Beginners respond to just about whatever training stimulus is provided. Traditional reps and sets are more than enough to elicit the correct adaptive response. Somebody who is just starting weight training and tries to incorporate advanced lifting techniques is akin to a green skier trying to go down a black diamond slope. Spend at least a year learning proper exercise form and developing physically while learning your capabilities.

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