Are Forced Reps Effective For Building Muscle?


What’s up, guys? Sean Nalewanyj on www.SeanNal.com, with a
quick Q&A video here on the topic of forced reps. And the question is: what do you think about
the use of forced reps? Are they a good way to squeeze out some exercise
and strength gains? And if so what’s the best way to utilize them. Before I jump into the video, guys, if you
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these videos. So for those who are still relatively new
to lifting, forced reps are pretty straightforward. You take your set to failure until you can’t
do any more reps on your own and then your spotter jumps in and provides a bit of assistance
to help you perform additional reps. Usually anywhere between one to three forced
reps at the end of the set would be typical. The most common exercise you’ll see forced
reps being used on is the bench press, but they can technically be used on any exercise
as long as the spotter can safely help out. So, forced reps, yes or no? The simple answer I give here is that I don’t
think forced reps should be bothered with in the majority of cases, because they’re
largely just unnecessary and they could even be potentially counterproductive. If you want to gain muscle size and strength
effectively going, roughly, one rep short of concentric muscular failure on the bulk
of your sets that’s a good intensity level to shoot for. Because it’s high enough to maximize the hypertrophy
response while still allowing you to perform enough total volume for the session without
burning yourself out. Going all the way to concentric failure is
fine if used in moderation but forced reps are essentially a beyond failure technique,
and so they’re going to be really taxing on your body as a whole, especially if you’re
doing them on bigger compound movements and on multiple sets for a given workout. Your central nervous system is going to be
stressed more heavily. And your performance on the other upcoming
exercises in your workout, that’s also going to take a hit as well. And then on top of that because forced reps
are used at the end of the set when you’re in a state of very high fatigue, they also
have a bigger injury risk, especially if your spotter is less experienced and doesn’t know
exactly when to jump in or exactly how much assistance to give you. Now, this doesn’t mean that forced reps going
to kill you or that you can never use them, but if you are going to include them in your
workout plan they should be used very sparingly as a high intensity technique. So, maybe if you get stuck halfway on a rep
toward the end of a set, or if you just want to train to a really high level of intensity
here and there on certain lifts, things like that. And you should only be using forced reps if
you’re a more intermediate to advanced trainee. I can’t see any reason at all for beginners
to be using them. Also, don’t do them during every single workout
and try to save them toward the end of training a particular muscle group, so that your strength
isn’t compromised on upcoming sets and exercises for the same muscle group. And keep in mind that the overall impact that
forced reps will have also depends a lot on the type of exercise you’re doing. For example, going to failure on a bicep curl
followed by one to two forced reps, that’s going to be a lot less taxing on your body
as a whole in comparison to doing the same thing on a bigger compound lift like, say,
a leg press, or a pull-up, or a bench press. And while we’re on the topic of forced reps
there’s also two other things that I want to point out here that are related, since
we’re talking about spotter assistance. The first is that: if the weight is so heavy
for you that you need help from your spotter after the first couple of reps, and the rest
of the set basically just becomes a bunch of forced reps, then the weight is just way
too heavy for you and you need to lighten things up. I see this all the time in the gym, especially
on the bench press where someone will load up way more weight than they can handle, they
un-rack the bar, perform a couple reps with questionable form, hit failure, and then their
spotter basically just stands there and pumps out bicep curls from behind the bench to help
them get, you know, three or four more reps. There’s just no reason whatsoever to be doing
this. And if you’re aiming for a set of, say, six
reps, three reps on your own and three reps with spotter assistance doesn’t count. You need to be getting the full six reps on
your own, and if you can’t then you need to lighten up the weight. I mean, if you’re doing this for ego reasons
because you want to look strong in the gym and then keep in mind that, number one: most
people in the gym are really only concerned with what they’re doing in their own workouts
and no one actually cares how much somebody else can lift. And number two: if you are someone who loads
up ten plates on the light press and then does quarter reps while your spotter pushes
on the sled from behind, you really just look silly, for lack of a better term, and you’re
actually having the opposite effect of what you were aiming for. And the second thing here, which is also related
to forced reps, is that if you are capable of lifting the weight on your own in proper
form for your targeted rep range then there’s no reason for your spotter to be giving you
any assistance at all. This is another very common thing I see. I actually see personal trainers doing this
all the time with their clients where the client is perfectly capable of handling the
weight on their own and they’re still, like, three or four reps shy of failure and then
the trainer just randomly jumps in and starts helping out. By providing assistance all you’re really
doing is lightening up the weight and preventing the lifter from properly taking the set close
to failure on their own. So if they’re lifting the weight just fine
and they haven’t hit failure yet, then there’s no reason to get involved. If you do, then you’re actually interfering
with the very thing that’s needed to stimulate the muscle building process in the first place
which is generating sufficient intensity. So I’ll leave it there. To sum it up I don’t think forced reps are
necessary for building muscle or gaining strength and they aren’t something I recommend in any
of my training plans by default, because I think they’re just overkill for the most part
and they’re potentially dangerous as well if you use them incorrectly. But if you are going to experiment with them
then they should be used very sparingly and only if you’re a more advanced lifter. So thanks for watching, guys. If you found this advice helpful, make sure
to hit the like button, leave a comment, and subscribe to stay up-to-date on future videos. If you want to get access to the exact workouts
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