If you’re like many people working out at the gym, you load up more than enough weight on the bench press, power it up and hope for the best. Form? Who cares? Lifting speed? What’s the difference?
In the next few issues, we want you to learn how to lift smarter, not heavier. Repeat after us: “Injury bad. Form good.” You’ll learn how to get more effective workouts using advanced techniques that don’t entail loading unnecessary weights onto the bar. Work the target muscle area to fatigue, exhaustion and burn. You’ll get better results working the target muscle area to fatigue, exhaustion and burn.
DOUBLE UP: How super-sets can rip you up.
One of the easiest techniques to lifting smarter, not heavier is incorporate the technique of super-sets. Performing a super-set is defined as doing two exercises focused on the same muscle group, with no rest between sets. Here we’re demonstrating legs, but this principle can be used for back, chest, shoulders, arms, calves and abs. “Lower body strength not only enhances your movement in sports and every day life, but it will also allow you to perform more advanced lifts that will develop upper body strength and size,” says Grayson Fertig, a Sports Center PIER Trainer and a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team.
For all super-sets: Perform 12-15 reps for each set, using a weight that you can handle and control without fatiguing your muscle on the first set. For the second set, use a weight that becomes difficult after 8–10 reps but allows you to eke out 12–15 reps after you achieve muscle failure. Your rest time should come between each super-set—two minutes between each. Perform three different super-sep variations for each body part, giving you a total of 18 sets. Do your super-sets once a week.
SQUAT/LEG PRESS As you should be able to complete 15 reps, use either no weight or a light weight for this first set. You can use a relatively heavier weight on the leg press or second set. Remember, no rest between sets. In your starting position for the squat, keep your abs flexed inward, your back upright and keep your feet hip distance apart and parallel. Make sure to begin the exercise as if you were about to sit down in a chair. Basically: Stick that ass out, people! [A] At the bottom of the squat, pause when the front of your thigh faces the ceiling. Balance on your foot evenly and press upward from your thighs. [B] On the leg press, extend your legs out slowly and fully, but do not lock your knees. [C] Return to the starting position with control and with your abs tight. [D]
BUTT BLASTER/LUNGE Get friendly with the butt blaster machine (we love it!). First perform 15 reps. Keep your abs tight and lift by putting even pressure throughout your foot. [E] Keep your foot completely connected with the pad while slowly returning to your starting position. [F] Then, with no rest, go directly into a reverse lunge. Step back into a deep lunge, but go slowly and focus on your balance. [G] Push yourself back to a standing position by pressing only into the heel of the foot. Keep your focus forward, your chest up and your core tight. [H]