4 Ways to Get Home-Grown Muscle
Muscle & Fitness
One popular misconception (read: excuse) for people who train at home is that you really can’t add any serious mass without the benefit of the fancy equipment and unlimited poundages of your local gym. Because of that, they resign themselves to a life of lesser workouts. “I’ll just do what I can,” they rationalize. “But I don’t expect to really gain any muscle.” Well, we have good news – and a bit of a wake-up call – for these gloomy trainers: You can drastically impact your overall body composition training at home. All you need is a barbell, a few dumbbells and the will to push yourself a little harder. These four techniques can be employed at home and will pay big dividends in the long run.
1. Single-Limb Forced Reps
Forced reps are one of the all-time best intensity techniques you can use. They have been shown to help athletes drop more body fat. This is likely due to the higher GH levels, which not only enhances muscle recovery and growth, but increases fat-burning. GH is particularly important for strength gains for females, as testosterone isn’t helping much. Forced reps require a spotter to assist you in completing one, two, or three extra reps after you have reached muscle failure. At first it would appear that the girl who trains at home by herself is out of luck with this technique. After all, who is going to provide the extra hand? The answer is: yourself.
A good way for those who train alone to take their muscles past failure and perform forced reps is by doing single-arm or-leg exercises. When that limb fails, the non-working limb provides the spot and helps the other get an extra two or three reps. This technique is great to use on one-arm curls for biceps, one-arm triceps extensions, front raises and lateral raises for delts.
2. Drop Sets
Drop sets are a great way to continue a set after reaching failure. When you can no longer perform any more reps, reduce the weight by 20-30% and continue the set. The key to drop sets is time. After the weight is dropped you continue the set. That is, it is still considered one set. Given that, the time it takes to reduce the weight should be minimal — about 5-10 seconds max. If you are working out by yourself and using standard dumbbells, the drop set can become two separate sets if you take too long to change weights. Purchasing a good set of quick-change dumbbells, or staying close to the rest of your dumbbells, can be the key to decreasing the time it takes on drop sets, which will up your intensity.
3. Partial Reps
Another great way to take a set beyond muscle failure when training home alone is to do partial reps. Partial reps simply mean that you do the exercise over only part of the range of motion (ROM). Muscle failure is the inability to complete the rep with good form. That means your muscle fails to complete the rep over the full ROM on its own. It does not mean that the muscle has reached absolute failure and cannot perform any movement at all. This means that the muscle can move the weight over some of the ROM of the exercise.
For example, when doing dumbbell shoulder presses you reach failure when you are unable push the weight all the way over head. However, your delts can still pull press the weight up a little bit of the way. So, after reaching failure on presses, you continue doing reps through as much of the ROM as possible until even the slightest ROM becomes impossible. At that point you have taken the muscle to absolute failure.
Partials are great to use on bench presses (barbell and dumbbell) and flyes for chest, overhead presses and upright rows for delts, pull-ups, pulldowns and rows (barbell, dumbbell and cable) for back, curls (barbell and dumbbell) for biceps, pressdowns and overhead extensions for triceps and squats for legs.
4. Giant Sets
This is simply taking four or more exercises for one muscle group and doing them consecutively, without taking any rest in between exercises. After doing all exercises for a muscle group you rest two to three minutes and repeat. Do 3-4 giant sets and you’re done – not just with the workout, but as in fried. Because of the lack of rest with giant sets you completely fatigue the muscle, which further helps to ramp up your GH levels.