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Forced Reps - An Exciting Variation on an Old Principle



TID Board Of Directors
Aug 11, 2010
It's called the Touch System of Forced Reps training, and it provides some interesting extra dimensions in the quest for muscular development.

The terrific surge in muscle development in the past 15 years has practically exhausted the effects of the known training principles. It seems that every conceivable variation has been applied to Supersets. Tri-Sets, Mass-Density, Iso-Tension Concentration, Flushing and all the other Weider Principles. Not the least exploited has been the Forced Reps method of training.

Anybody who's been in this game any length of the remembers how fellows like Marvin Eder, Reg Park and Clancy Ross first used their private variations of the Weider Forced Reps Principle. I created it, the Weider Research Clinic popularized it, and the concept was heralded by the Olympians as a real break through in training for muscle strength and size.

The Forced Reps Principle, as any advanced bodybuilder knows, is based on partner assistance, although the same effect can be produced to some degree by different kinds of body English or cheating.

Today's trend toward higher reps and fast-paced Quality Training for bringing out definition has practical precluded the Forced Reps way of dong things. But as the search continues for ways of build ling bigger and better muscles, bodybuilding has to revert to a kind of "back-to-nature" movement.

More and more the systems for training have become "personalized" through the use of the Weider Instinctive Training Principle. One by one, the individual methods of the superstars have been divulged in training articles. You can see how the champs use every known device -- and some unknown -- to excite their muscles. Some transcend the mundane. Fellows like Frank Zane have unified mind and body to make training almost ethereal. Mike Mentzer takes blowtorch workouts, the repetitions and weight being applied with such intensity he almost seems to mold his muscles to suit his purpose. Arnold would saturation bomb for three hours a day, using the Weider Double-Split. Each in his own way has probed the unknown.

Although this system isn't devised for the beginner, it would behoove him to familiarize himself with it. He may be ready for it sooner than he thinks.

What follows really concerns the guy who has already conquered many other sticking points but desperately needs something new to break through to championship muscularity.

Basically, the Forced Reps, methods amounts to you, your exercise movement and an able assistant or two. Let's suppose you are working on your biceps and are using the regular Barbell Curl with the palms upward. You've done lots of curls before, but this time you want to force you muscles beyond any any effort they've ever made.

You load the barbell with the heaviest weight that you can handle for a series of three or four reps. Then you will do as many reps as possible. When you can no longer complete a rep on your own, your partners come to your assistance, boosting the weight slightly so you can do a few more reps. (It's also important that you lower the weight slowly, taking about 3-4 seconds to let it descend.) At the start of each Forced Reps curl you should exert as much power as you can by yourself before your helpers touch the weight.

The basic purpose is to force your biceps to fight a relentless resistance. The intermittent outside assistance won't let the muscles give up. The outside help enables you to complete the movement, and the flow of energy continues. This energy comes from the activation of muscle fibers that have remained on standby. Unless given an ultimatum they will remain dormant forever. The emergency situation of Forced Reps has thrown an army of new, fresh muscle fibers into the breach.

That, we assume, has always been the principle in muscle development -- demand and supply, forcing muscle tissue to work against increasing resistance. In theory, it sounds great, but in actual practice a whole lot is left to training circumstances and ingenuity.
In the course of time a thing to two has been discovered about Forced Reps. For one thing, there's an interesting psychological effect. The physical presence of an assistant or assistants makes you give out with more than if you were training alone. You unconsciously try to impress them. You feel safe knowing they are there when the going gets tough. You have a positive feeling because you know that you will complete every rep you start. No thought of failure enters your mind, and the fear of dropping the weight is nonexistent. Your mind and muscles are released from the bondage of fear and thus limited effort. Failure patterns cannot develop. You simply know no bounds. Both our mind and body are liberated.

There's more to achieving this than meets the eye, however. For one thing, it doesn't work for two strangers. The people using the system must know each other-- their strong points, weak points, sticking points and idiosyncrasies. Total confidence in your helper gives you fresh reserve when you hear a simple command like "Curl it, damn it!" in the middle of a repetition. A nod, word or a touch to the bar -- they all mean something.

It's obvious that Forced Reps training takes teamwork. By training together, the athletes develop a common purpose. If you happen to be the star of the team, your assistants must have as much interest in your muscles continuing to grow as you so. Your assistant may alternate with you on the same exercise, and everyone benefits. The timing between you and your assistants becomes exquisite. An assistant never, never lets the weight drop back a fraction of an inch, no matter how heavy. The flexion of any muscle should be continually forward, the intensity of the contraction never broken, You get maximum flexion with each repetition os that you're literally performing peak contraction movements with very heavy weights. With that kind of urging, the muscles are bound to grow.

Other amazing things have been discovered about Forced Reps. It has long been known that a spotter may only have to exert a fraction of the force required for a person to complete a movement with a weight far in excess of his unassisted capability. For example, if a man's limit in the Bench Press is 350, he's often able to do 385 or more as a Forced Rep with his helper only applying about 25 pounds of vertical force on the bar.

Don't go away, there's more! The Weider Research Clinic has been experimenting away with the Touch System of Forced Reps training. The assumption was that if a man could force out a heavy repetition with a minimal helping force, he could do it with no physical force applied at all. The research people thought about it a while, tried different things like touching the muscle or joint involved in the action, but nothing worked quite as effectively, gave the mind such overwhelming confidence, as the presence of a muscular hand visibly exerting its magic on the bar by barely touching it.

It was learned that the Touch System or Forced Reps was ineffective when the bodybuilder used a weight he could not get into motion on his own. In other words, the bodybuilder should be able to start his final repetitions by himself, whether it's getting the weight off the chest in a Bench Press, starting a barbell in motion when doing a curl, or coming up from the full squat position. They found that whenever a weight is too heavy to budge, one develops a negative attitude toward itt no matter how much assistance is received. The person programs defeat into this memory, and that's bad.

The weight must be moving to a point, unassisted, where the mind is firing a massive volley of impulses to the muscle. From that point, a simple touch of a finger under the weight acts to complete the motion to full flexion.

As we said, it's not likely to work for two strangers. The affinity between people on common ground exerts a powerful influence. In some unclear way it amounts to two minds working on the same weight. This compound effect forces muscle to work far beyond its established potential.

An arbitrary Forced Reps routine could go as follows:
Bench Press
375 10 reps
10 reps
8 reps
6 Forced Reps

Forced Reps here are used only for the last six repetitions. As the weight is boosted off the chest unassisted, the spotter then places a finger or two under the bar and guides the bar to arms' length. The presence of the finger psyches the lifter.

During the first few repetitions, while the lifter is fresh, the force applied by the finger is minimal or nonexistent. As the Forced Reps add up, the lifter weakens, and toward the end of the set the spotter's finger or fingers must start exerting a stronger upward force. In this way the bodybuilder doesn't feel, unconsciously, that he must conserve on his first three reps in order to make the last three. This permits him to use 375 for what are really single attempts in rapid succession, rather than 25 pounds less for straight repetitions.

It was also learned that I really helped the lifter psychologically to wee the spotter take what appeared to be a firm grip on the bar, or whatever resistance device was being used, when actually the palm of the guiding hand was barely touching the metal. You may not be able to apply Forced Reps to more than one muscle group in any one workout when you first begin using them. You can use them every workout but on different bodyparts. Try them every second workout for any stubborn area.

After a while you can can apply the Forced Rep method one set out of three for each bodypart. As you progress you can eventually use them every set of every workout as Mike and Ray Mentzer, Casey Viator and others do. But remember, the power of the mind, plus the help of your training partner(s), has forced an uncommon effort from the muscle. As a result, the muscle will need plenty of rest. Pace yourself, and you will find that this new method of Forced Reps will literally psyche your muscles to unbelievable performance and size.​
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