Building High-Performance Muscle™

Extended Sets for Pain


I like to hurt.

Let me clarify that. I don't like hurting people, I like to feel pain after a set.

Call is psychological; hell, call it pathological.

For whatever reason, feeling an intense burn or cramping in my muscles is the residue of hard work. It's like a badge of honor that stands in stark contrast to the guys on either side of me in the gym who casually do their single set of 8 or 10 reps without so much as breaking a grimace or spouting a bead of sweat.

Wuss boys.

As such, I love throwing the occasional extended set into my workout. For the uninitiated, extended sets are sets where you continue to do more work once you've reached failure in whatever movement you're doing at the time.

There are several ways to do this:

Trouble is, those methods are BORING, at least to me.

I prefer two other methods that I think are more stimulating, mentally AND physically:

They're called Mechanical Drop Sets and Post-Fatigue Tri sets.

also involve doing more reps once you hit failure, only rather than reducing the weight, you simply make small adjustments in the execution of the movement that allow you to keep on going.

As an example, in the following triad of biceps exercises: Reverse grip curls, "regular" grip curls, and hammer curls, the reverse grip ones are the hardest, followed in relative ease of execution by "regular" grip curls and then hammer curls.

If you rep out doing reverse curls, you'll be able to continue doing more reps by simply rotating your wrists and doing conventional curls. When you rep out using conventional curls, you should be able to eke out a few more reps by rotating your wrists and doing hammer-grip curls.

Easy but oh-so hard.

involve doing a second and a third exercise for the same muscle or muscle group without taking any rest.

Again, easy but oh-so hard.

The science behind them is simply this: the more muscle fibers you can exhaust, the more muscle you can grow.

The potential drawback? You can easily do too much work and compromise recovery. Of course, that won't be a problem if you use them judiciously; I'd say no more than three or four sets of an extended set exercise per body part.

Whether you want to regularly incorporate them into your workouts, or occasionally use one to punish your miserable self for sins against man, nature, or God, here are some of my favorites.

I appropriated many from Christian Thibaudeau, some from Charles Poliquin, and one from Dr. Clay Hyght. I dreamed up the others during lonely evenings spent in my backyard gym.

Remember, move from variation to variation within the set without taking any rest, but rest about 2 minutes in-between sets.


Shoulders

 Mechanical Drop Set 1

Standing military press (no leg drive)
8-10 reps

Push press (use a little leg drive)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Push jerk (use a powerful leg drive)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 2

Dumbbell lateral raise
8-10 reps

Dumbbell front raise
same weight; as many reps as you can

Dumbbell upright row
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 3

Dumbbell front raises
8-10 reps

Lateral raises
same weight; as many reps as you can

Dumbbell presses
same weight; as many reps as you can

Post Fatigue Tri Set 1

Upright barbell row
10-12 reps

Dumbbell lateral raises
8-10 reps

Behind the neck barbell press (using the same barbell you did for upright rows)
As many reps as possible

Note: yeah, yeah, both upright rows and behind-the-neck presses are shunned by some exercise specialists, but given the rep ranges we're talking about here (relatively high), you'll be using a weight that most likely won't harm you, unless you already have known shoulder problems.


Chest

Mechanical Drop Set 1

High incline bench DB press
8-10 reps

Low incline bench DB press
same weight; as many reps as you can

Flat bench DB press
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 2

High incline bench cable flies (second adjustable pin on bench)
8-10 reps

Low incline bench cable flies (first adjustable pin on bench)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Flat bench cable flies
same weight; as many reps as you can


Quad or Quad Dominant Movements

Mechanical Drop Set 1

Front squat
8-10 reps

Close-stance (hip width) back squat
same weight; as many reps as you can

Wide-stance back squat
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 2

Short-step lunges with dumbbells at side
8-10 reps

Long step lunges with dumbbells at side
same weight; as many reps as you can

DB squat
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 3

Single-leg extension
8-10 reps per leg

2/1 leg extension (up with two legs, down with one leg in 5 seconds)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Leg extension (both feet up and down)
same weight; as many reps as you can


Hamstrings or Hip Dominant Movements

Mechanical Drop Set 1

Snatch-grip deadlift
8-10 reps

Romanian deadlift
same weight; as many reps as you can

Sumo deadlift
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 2

Single-leg curl
8-10 reps per leg

2/1 leg curl (up with two legs, down with one leg in 5 seconds)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Leg curl (both feet up and down)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 3

Siffie lunges (lunges on the tips of your toes at all times)
8-10 reps

Short step lunges
same weight; as many reps as you can

Long step lunges
same weight; as many reps as you can


Biceps

Mechanical Drop Set 1

Steep angle preacher curl
8-10 reps

45-degree preacher curl
same weight; as many reps as you can

Standing barbell curl
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 2

Reverse grip DB curl (both arms at the same time)
8-10 reps

Regular grip DB curl (both arms at the same time)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Hammer grip DB curl (both arms at the same time)
same weight; as many reps as you can


Triceps

Mechanical Drop Set 1

Super close-grip bench (8'')
8-10 reps

Close-grip bench (14'')
same weight; as many reps as you can

Normal grip bench (22-24'')
same weight; as many reps as you can

Post Fatigue Tri Set 1

Reverse grip cable pushdowns (on lat pulldown machine)
8-10 reps

"Regular" grip cable pushdowns
8-10 reps

Overhead rope Extensions (remove bar from pulldown machine and replace with rope)
8-10 reps

Note: Lower weights as necessary to achieve rep goals.


Back

Mechanical Drop Set 1

Bent-over barbell rowing, torso parallel to the floor
8-10 reps

Bent over barbell rowing torso 45 degrees
same weight; as many reps as you can

Bent over barbell rowing, slight cheat
same weight; as many reps as you can

Mechanical Drop Set 2

Wide-grip lat pulldown (palms away from you)
8-10 reps

Medium-grip pulldown (palms away from you)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Close-grip pulldown (palms toward you)
same weight; as many reps as you can

Post Fatigue Tri Set 1*

Reverse-grip Pendley barbell rows (use a narrow grip, allow barbell to touch ground on each rep)
6-8 reps

Regular-grip Pendlay barbell rows (use a wide grip, allow barbell to touch ground on each rep)
same weight; as many reps as possible

Hammer-grip dumbbell rows
6-8 reps

*Be prepared to be sucking wind after this one.

Got any favorite Mechanical Drop Sets or Post Fatigue Tri Sets of your own? I want to know about them! Hurt me, please.



Hidetada Yamagishi Kai Greene Mike Ergas Don't Just Stand There! Don't Just Stand There! Don't Just Stand There! Don't Just Stand There! Don't Just Stand There!

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