Journey Back To Strength 16

My 3 Go-To Intensity Techniques

Journey Back To Strength 16 - My 3 Go-To Intensity Techniques

I can see the light!

As I write this blog, I am currently 6 weeks away from the 2014 Ms. Figure International. It has been quite a “race” to do it all. Build muscle, lose body fat, re-shape areas that were completely nonexistent as well as get my overall strength back.

How have I adjusted my workouts?

There are areas that are not as strong as they used to be. Traditionally, I am able to achieve a certain “look” using straight sets. Being that I am still not as physically strong as I have been in the past and the weights I use are not as heavy, I am trying to move as much weight as possible through volume (i.e. increase repetitions). To accomplish that, I implement advanced techniques such as drop sets, rest pause sets and/or focusing on the negative portion of the repetition. Movements are always done with thought through out each rep and performed with a controlled pace.

Advanced Training Techniques

Journey Back To Strength 16 - My 3 Go-To Intensity TechniquesDrop Sets
One important aspect to successful weight training is to periodically implement some form of change within the workout. Switching from straight sets to drop sets is one such way to avoid specific adaptation to the demands currently imposed upon the body. It is an extremely time-efficient way to train, great for increasing muscular endurance and instantly adds intensity to an existing workout.

Normally, I use drop sets at the end of my regular straight sets. This is to ensure I hit all muscle fiber types and call upon as many fibers as possible to work.

Example: Drop Sets on Leg Extension Machine
Set 1: 6-8 reps then decrease weight by 20%
Set 2: 5-10 reps a few reps shy of failure then decrease weight by 20%
Set 3: 3-10 reps or until failure

Journey Back To Strength 16 - My 3 Go-To Intensity TechniquesRest-Pause Sets
When you are no longer able to increase the resistance on a particular exercise, the Rest-Pause technique, when performed for a period of a few weeks, is a great way to blast through a plateau. It is also an incredible method for strength gains. For now, I use this method on every body part. An example of a body part you could start off with would be legs. It’s very easy to get complacent and just do the same weight, the same sets, the same reps, etc. Moving more weight translates into muscular strength, endurance and hypertrophy. Of course that is all dependent upon the individual and rep range used, amongst many other variables.

Example: Rest-Pause on Leg Press Machine.
3 sets of 8- 12 reps. On final set, after reaching failure (or a rep or two shy of failure), reduce weight by 50%, rest 15 seconds and go to failure again. For the more advanced, reduce the weight by 25% and rest for 10 seconds before going to failure again. These are just a few examples, and as you can see, there are many possibilities.

Journey Back To Strength 16 - My 3 Go-To Intensity TechniquesAva’s Quick Leg Press Tip: Warm up for 2 sets on the first exercise of a body part. The very first set may be with no weight added at all. Through controlled movements, it is a great way to stretch before starting this exercise, because you are able to properly warm up the hip flexors, get blood to the joints & muscles and make sure you have planned out foot placement all prior to beginning.

Negative Reps
Another technique that improves strength gains is focusing on the negative or eccentric portion of the lift.

Example: Negative Reps on Lying Leg Curl Machine
After fully warming up, move into single leg lying leg curls. You can do from 3-8 reps, using approximately 75% of your 1 rep max. You can use the “free” leg to help lift the weight up on the positive portion of the lift and then resist the negative using only one leg.

Always Think, “Never Go On Cruise Control.”

Here are just a few ways I have been able to get a lot of work done in a very short amount of time. I have to say, I finally feel like I am seeing some changes and can see myself coming back! I have a few pictures for you. Now granted, these are one-take shots. Being alone, it’s hard to get the “right” shot. I have to ask my friends and training partners to take the pictures. Being so focused on getting work done, it feels awkward saying, “Hey can you take a picture of me?” lol But taking “selfies” are even harder, so I did ask!

Pushing harder than ever…have a great week!

Ava Cowan is an IFBB Figure Professional, a CPTS® and full time online coach and consultant for women of all fitness levels.

Become a part of "Team Ava": Customized Coaching and Consulting for all levels.

Have questions, comments or just want to give me a shout?


Discounts for new sign ups to Ava's Newsletter.