If you ask inexperienced harry half-rep to help you chances are he'll either offer too much assistance in which case he's essentially doing all of the lifting for you, or he won't offer enough assistance... I've seen many a near miss from guys almost dropping dumbbells or barbell on themselves as their muscles are essentially in a state of complete failure.
Here's how to actually perform forced reps:
- Have a training buddy on standby
- Perform your regular set of the exercise of your choice (we'll discuss dangerous exercises for forced reps in a moment)
- Upon completion of your 8 - 12 reps (however many places you on the brink of failure) of your exercise have your training buddy offer just enough assistance for you to grind out another 2 - 4 reps with the same weight
* Note that we're not dropping the weight at all as that would be considered a drop set, the goal is to smash out a few additional reps of the same weight you just lifted.
Forced Repetitions Can Be Downright Dangerous
There are certain exercises that're not only almost impossible for your training buddy to assist with, but there are also a number of exercises that can result in serious injury if you attempt to push beyond failure into those gritty assisted reps.
Squats, deadlifts, bent over rows (and variations of these exercises) are all a no-go.
You don't want your quads to give out on one of your barbell back squat forced reps and end up on the floor with a barbell on top of you....
Don't get me wrong, you'll probably see guys doing these in the gym but the risk of injury really isn't worth it... there are other exercises that target the same muscle groups that can safely be used for your forced rep sets.
You can safely perform forced reps on:
- Essentially any pin loaded machine
- Essentially any plate loaded machine
- Biceps exercises
- Triceps exercises
- Chest presses and flies
- Shoulder presses and raises
My Personal Take And Expectations
Forced repetitions are another great training technique in our arsenal that can be used to break through plateaus in the gym.
I know of several coaches that don't believe they are particularly useful, perhaps from a purely strength based perspective this might be the case - but to apply progressive overload, achieve hypertrophy and break through plateaus I've personally found forced reps to work wonders.
I wouldn't use them for every exercise of every workout though.
At a maximum I'd use forced reps on one or two sets per workout, aiming to rep out another 2 - 4 reps per set of the exercise you've implemented your forced reps for.
Alternate these assisted reps with other advanced training techniques such as super sets, drop sets and rest pause reps.