Ain’t what you do, its the way that you do it

‘and thats what gets results’, using the wise words of Banarama (kids, they were a pop band from the 80s – not exactly known for their wisdom ;-).

When it comes to training effectively, these are wise words indeed. In my blog post riding the motivational wave, I mention the pitfalls of getting complacent or de-motivated when exercising. This is sadly more likely for the regular gym-goer, perhaps due to the enclosed environment in which you exercise.

In this post, I want to promote a number of training techniques I have used over the years, which have helped me stay motivated whilst also getting good results. They differ from the traditional approach where an exercise is performed a number of times (Sets), typically 3, each consisting of 10-12 resistence motions (Reps).

The regimes discussed below are best performed for a short period, typically 1-2 months, so as to ‘shock’ the body. Each has a different emphasis, depending on your goal; although all are dynamic in nature. Personally I have found static training (e.g. Isometric) is more likely to cause injury when using weights, so avoid it.

Novice methods – Body Toning/Building


Pyramid training uses a principle of maximum effort rather than considering weight alone. Unlike traditional training routines, where a given weight remains constant across sets, Pyramid training looks to start with a high-rep count, lower weight for the first set, increasing the weight and reducing reps, then finishing back down to lower weight again. The rest between sets should be about 30 seconds max. Below is an example of how it could be done:

  • 15reps@70%
  • 12reps@80%
  • 8reps@Max load
  • 12reps@70%


Hypertrophy is best acheived by fully exhausting the muscle. The pre-exhaust approach concentrates on this principle and is good for gaining muscle-mass. The aim is to isolate a muscle prior to a compound exercise. Thus the effect is two-fold: during the compound motion, the isolated muscle is worked to exhaustion which also exaggerates the effort on other muscles to compensate. Example pairs are given below:

  • Shoulder Raise vs Shoulder Press
  • Lying Fly vs Bench Press
  • Lunges vs Squats


Supersetting although similiar to Pre-Exhaust training, tends to concentrate on isolation exercises to exhaust the muscles. It applies the principle of training complimentary exercises, but without rest. Whereby, a group of muscles, like Arms for example, are performed together. Although there a number of types of supersets, I want to share two that have worked for me:


Here the complementary exercises work on a given muscle group but in opposite directions, hence its name. You always know it has been effective if you get that ‘pumped’ feeling in the group trained. Example Push-pull pairs are:

  • Leg Extentions vs Leg Curls
  • Bicep Curl vs Tricep Press
  • Stomach Crunch vs Hyper-extension


To perform the drop-set technique, requires a training partner, aka. Spotter. The maximum weight is loaded until assistance is required. Each time assistance is given for 1 rep from the spotter, the weight is reduced again. Until either the weight is nominal or a number of sets have been met. By way of example, see below:

  • Start at 80% max until failure – drop by 20% each time until little or no resistance.

And finally…


Although I am not a fan of static exercising (unless body-weight only), the Super-Slow method is a good compromise in my opinion. The principle is to perform an exercise, but much slower. For example, the typical repetition would be perform in a 2s-1s-2s fashion; in essence two second contraction, 2s hold, then 2s return. For Super-Slow exercising, the approach could be a 5-2-10 activity (for more advanced, double the time). Exercises which benefit from this method are:

  • Tricep-dips
  • Bicep Curl
  • Leg-Press
  • Pull-ups

Try some of these out, particularly if you are in need of a change. They will not necessarily motivate to go the gym, but will hopefully relieve the monotony when you are there. Let me know how you get on, either via contact form or in the comments below.

In the following blog post, I will discuss some more advanced techniques, which I have used when I have a specific goal in mind. But I warn you, they are not for the faint hearted!

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