By: Heather Marr
Heather Marr is an N.Y.C.-based personal trainer and The Model Trainer Method creator, whose A-list client roster includes some of the world’s most famous supermodels. Ahead, she reveals her top training techniques.
Many active individuals fall into a rut and find themselves performing the same workouts day in and day out at the gym. Incorporating challenging training techniques into our programming can be a great way to add variety, intensity, and excitement back into our workouts, which is why Consider these five training techniques.
Drop sets are a fun way to finish a workout. You would perform your set as usual on the desired body part for the number of repetitions in your program. Rather than stopping here, however, you would immediately lower the lifting weight and continue performing reps to failure. This can be done several times and is often dropped in many programs to three times, but the sky is the limit. If you’re training alone, dumbbells, cables, and many machines make for an easy drop. When performing exercises like the bench press or leg press for example, it is helpful to have a partner there to remove the weight quickly so that you're not giving the muscle a break. The key thing with drop sets is that there are no breaks. The weight is lowered, and you immediately continue performing your repetitions.
Pyramids are a great way to begin a workout after performing your warm-up sets. Basically, you begin with a lighter weight which you would perform for a higher number of repetitions. In each subsequent set, the weight increases while the number of reps being performed decreases. This is happening because for working sets the last few reps of each set should be a struggle. As we lower the number of repetitions being performed in our working sets, we would of course need to increase the resistance.
If pyramids are beginning with lighter weights for higher repetitions then reverse pyramids are just the opposite. Here, you would begin with heavier weight for lower repetitions. In each subsequent set, the lifting weight would decrease while the number of repetitions would increase. This is again happening because we know that the last several repetitions of our working sets need to be a struggle. As we increase the number of repetitions being performed in our working sets, we would of course need to decrease the resistance.
I absolutely love supersets and use them regularly in my programming. They are an extremely efficient use of time in the gym and lots of fun. Basically, they are a set combining two exercises together, performed one after the other with no break in between. Traditionally, antagonist muscle groups are used like chest with back or biceps with triceps but many – including myself – use a looser application of the training technique. You can pair chest with biceps for example or back with triceps. Compound sets are often referred to as supersets. They are two exercises performed for the same muscle group back to back with no rest in between.
These are great for conditioning and maximizing your time in the gym. Essentially, giant sets are four (or more) exercises in a row for one body part performed back to back, one after the other, with no rest in between. An example for a giant set on shoulders would be standing dumbbell press with dumbbell lateral raise with front raises, with bent-over reverse flys, followed by the break, and then repeated. The key thing here is to have a small area set up with all the equipment you need prior to beginning. This may not be a technique you want to try during peak hours, so use good judgement.
As with all advanced training techniques, it’s important to add them to your programming mindfully and use common sense. You would not, for example, perform all your sets as drop sets. These are simply techniques to add to your existing workouts to increase intensity and help bust out of plateaus.