Tip: From Super Strict to Slighted Cheated

Add some size to your arms with this challenging training method. Here's how to do it.


Change the "Strictness" of Mechanical Drop Sets

Mechanical drop sets are one of my favorite methods for hypertrophy. It consists of doing two or three variations of the same movement as a "superset" but with descending difficulty.

You start with your "weakest" or hardest variation. When you hit failure (or close to it) you switch to the second weakest variation. When you hit failure (or close to it) on this one you finish with the maximum reps you can in do your strongest movement.

A typical example would be to go from pronated (reverse) dumbbell curls to supinated (normal) dumbbell curls to hammer curls.

But one approach that a lot of lifters don't use – and that might be even more powerful – is to do the exact same exercise but change the "strictness" of the movement to allow you to keep getting reps even as you hit failure or close to it.

How could it be more effective? Well, you'll keep pounding the same muscle whereas, in the previous example (pronated/supinated/hammer), you're only able to get more reps because you're hitting different parts of the arm flexors.

So here's how you do it by just changing the strictness:

1. Start with wall standing curls (barbell or dumbbells).

The back of your head, upper back, butt, and heels must touch the wall behind you. Actively push into the wall with your neck. This will increase neural transmission and allow for better recruitment. When you hit failure (or one rep in reserve) you...

2. Move away from the wall and switch to regular standing curls.

Keep the form strict. This will still be easier than curling against the wall. Crank out reps to failure then...

3. Switch to slightly cheated curls.

You can use a little bit of upper body momentum. Just bend at the torso, going slightly forward and rocking it back to start the weight up. But – and here's the important part – the eccentric (lowering of the rep) should be slow and strict. With curls, a slight cheat is fine as long as you do the eccentric under control.

You can take as much as 10 seconds of rest between the three steps. Try starting with a weight you can do for 8-10 reps on the first exercise and do 3 work sets.

Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.