The Iron Chorus - Chapter 4. How to "Spice Up" Your Training

How to “Spice Up” Your Training:

Every once in awhile you’ll grow a little bit tired of doing the same old training of 3-3 sets of 5-12 reps. Understandable, variety is the spice of life! So, the following are training tactics that can add diversity and also help you get through your training session FASTER!


AMRAP = As many Reps as Possible

How to Apply AMRAPs -

This can be applied to either the FIRST set or your LAST Set. If you apply it to your first set, you do that lift for reps until you reach near muscular failure. If you apply it to your last set, do the rep and set ranges generally prescribed in this program and when you reach your last set, you take that set until near muscular failure. This is best done on lifts that you can safely fail on, or when you have a training partner to spot you. Safety first.

Example: Squats    135lbs 3x6, 1xAMRAP (11 reps)


SS = Super set: To be performed back to back with no rest between the two exercises.

How to Apply Super Sets -

Super Sets have two purposes. One is to get in lots of work in a short amount of time and the other is to stimulate further muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) in a given muscle group and/or groups.

Example 1: Bench Press ss with Lat Pull Downs    3x8-12 (each)

Example 2: Squats ss with Leg Extensions - 135lbs x 8 ss with 70lbs x 12


Giant Set = to be performed in sequence, back to back with no rest between the three exercises.

How to Apply Giant Sets -

Very Similar to Super Sets. This is a great way to knock out a lot of you accessory lifts in one big painful flurry of reps!


Giant set -

  • Cable Curls            x8-12

  • Cable Reverse Curls        x8-12

  • Alternating Dumbbell Curls    x8-12


Drop Set: pick the highest weight possible and complete as many reps as possible until failure, drop the weight 5-10lbs and do another set till failure, repeat this until you're out of weight.

How to Apply Drop Sets -

A very effective way to get in a lot of reps on accessory lifts when you’re short on time. This is also the perfect “finisher” for after completing a Heavy Set in one of the Prime Movers (Push, Pull, Squat, Hip Hinge).

Example: Lat Pulldown - 115lbs 3x8-12, 4th Set is a Drop Set


Pyramid Set: The Reverse of Drop Set. Start with a light weight and do it for 12 reps, add 5-10lbs and and do that weight for 8-12, continue until you’re only able to hit one clean rep with the highest weight.

How to Apply Pyramid Sets -

This can be applied to Exercises that you’re completely new at in order to find your personal boundaries. This can also be combined with a Drop Set to provide a very quick and effective training stimulus.

Example: Lat Pulldown - Pyramid Set followed by a Drop Set


Tempo Sets: Lifting weights under a specific amount of time under tension. For example: 2-4-2 - Two seconds lifting, 4 seconds pausing at the top, 2 seconds lowering.

How to Apply Tempo Sets -

Eventually you won’t be able to increase the weight on lifts that utilize smaller muscle groups. So, in order to get a better training stimulus and continue progressing you can utilize more time under tension on weight you’ve previously been able to get more reps with. This is best done with accessory lifts like the bicep curl, tricep extension, lateral delt raise, calf raises, leg extensions, etc.


DC Set (Dog Crap): Take a Heavy weight and do it for as many reps as possible, rest with the weight resting in your hands (or on your back etc.) for 5-10 secs and then do as many reps as possible, repeat until you can only complete one rep.

How to Apply DC Sets -

These were originally designed to push progression on the big compound lifts (Push, Pull, Squat, Hip Hinge) but these can be applied to accessory lifts as well! The point is to go to near muscular failure, give yourself just enough rest time to crank out a few more reps, rest, and then push yourself to the next level. This is best done WITH a spotter just in case the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.


Rest - Pause: Rest 30 secs between the grouped sets. For example: Rest Pause set with doubles means you will do two reps, rest 30 secs then do another two reps until all reps are completed.

How to Apply Rest - Pause -

This can be done in MULTIPLE variations. It is best utilized in the following manner. If you know you can Bench Press 135lbs for 8 reps and usually fail on the 9th rep, do 135lbs for 5 sets of 4 Rest - Pause. You’ll get in lots of reps, lots of technique practice, and you’ll also get a lot of chest, tricep, and shoulder hypertrophy!

Example: 135lbs x 4, rest 30 secs, 135lbs x 4, rest 30 secs, 135lbs x 4, rest 30 secs (etc.)


Paused Reps: Paused reps are accomplished by stopping the momentum of the lift, not activating the stretch reflex, and pausing the lift for a specified amount of time.

How to Apply Paused Reps -

Touch and go reps are a lot easier to complete then paused reps. By taking out the stretch reflex the exercise becomes more difficult to complete. This way you can continue progressing without necessarily adding MORE weight. If you have any hopes of performing in a powerlifting meet you’ll need to become very good at paused bench press.

Example: Pausing the bar on the chest for Bench Press, Pausing at the bottom of a squat, or pausing below the knee, an inch off the floor for a deadlift.


Controlled Concentric Reps: Controlled Concentric Reps are best completed with an explosive eccentric motion and slow concentric, or lowering of the weight.

How to Apply Controlled Concentric Reps-

These are best applied to accessory lifts and are really great “finishers.” If you’re looking to get a MEAN pump from a lift, this will do the trick. You can do full sets of this or do a lighter set once you’ve done a heavier set.


Example: Reg. Bicep Curls 45lbs x 8 (failure), Controlled Concentric Reps 25lbs x 8 -12


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Until Next Time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

Posted on January 17, 2017 and filed under Books, Tutorials.