The fascination with strength training is as old as civilization. Strength training is one of the most ancient and universal human practices, like language, tool-making, and agriculture. It’s hard to imagine a time without it.
Yet even though our forebears had tens of thousands of years to perfect the practice, new developments in strength training continue to emerge today!
It’s an exciting time for fitness enthusiasts who are determined to push their physical boundaries and achieve mastery in these weightlifting techniques.
These are some of the most cutting-edge training methods to keep an eye on, so let’s get right to it.
Here are five of the most innovative strength training practices for serious athletes,
bodybuilders and gym-goers that are currently gaining in popularity.
1. Pyramid Training
The pyramid is one of the oldest and most effective ways there is to lift weights. A typical weightlifting workout would involve starting at low weights and incrementally increasing them until you reach a peak load for your final set.
Pyramid training is a variant of this concept that involves setting three different weights for the initial sets, and progressively adding more weight to make each subsequent set.
The set weights couldn’t possibly be light enough to allow you to fail on all but the final set, but thus far you could go right up to failure on each successive set.
In other words, instead of doing a workout composed entirely of low reps with light weights, pyramid-style workouts involve making each progressively heavier weightlifter until failure is reached on the final attempt.
2. Forced Repetition Training
Forced repetition training is another practice that’s been around since ancient times, but is making a comeback with the strength training community.
Forced repetitions are very similar to pyramid training, except that the set weights never go below what’s considered “par” weight in your rep range (that is, the weight you would normally use for that number of reps).
For instance, if you normally perform 10 reps on your second set at 70% of your 1RM, and 15 reps on each subsequent set at 75% of your 1RM until failure, you could theoretically do a set where you lift 100% of that same weight.
In other words, you would do your last set (the one at 100% of your 1RM) while you’re still capable of lifting that heavy weight, instead of failing on the last rep. Then immediately do a second forced rep set.
3. Cluster Sets
Cluster sets involve a series of multiple repetitions in the same continuous motion without resting in between. These are a very useful technique for working with lighter weights because you can perform many more repetitions than if you use heavier weights.
All you need to do is keep going up in weight until each successive cluster becomes too light and too fatiguing, then reduce the weight slightly and continue again until failure.
Cluster sets can be performed with multiple sets of the same movement, like bicep curls or bench presses, or even with different movements.
4. Drop Sets
Drop sets are a technique where you start each set at a slightly higher weight than your previous one, and then proceed to decrease the weight that you’re using on each subsequent set until you reach failure.
Drop sets are particularly useful for bodybuilding purposes because they allow you to perform more reps at each weight per set than if you did the same number of reps at a given weight. In other words, bodybuilders can get more bang for their buck with drop sets.
5. The Isolation Movement
The isolation movement is another technique that’s been around for many years but is more popular now than ever before. It’s a weightlifting technique whereby you take targeted muscles through an exercise with an isolation movement rather than a compound exercise.
An isolation movement targets a particular muscle group, like the biceps or the quadriceps, while a compound exercise involves multiple muscle groups, like squats.
For example, instead of performing bench presses or barbell squats as your primary lifts, you would instead perform dumbbell flys or leg extensions to target the chest and legs respectively.