You have been lifting for a while and things become a little stale. The same sets and the same rep schemes over and over again, and you don’t know what to do about it. Well, that’s where program variation comes in. Tempo, Drop Sets,, Rest-Pause (RP), AMRAPS, the list goes on and on. These are powerful variations that can take stale programming to the next level. Okay, but what do they mean? Let’s go over them.
Tempo provides guidance on how fast or slow you move your body or weight. Usually designated in seconds, it looks something like this 32X1. The 3 is how long it takes to complete the eccentric phase of a movement, the 2 is how long you hold at the bottom of a movement, the X (explode) is how quickly you move back to the start, and the 1 is how long you hold at the beginning of the movement. Changing tempo can change the time under tension (or TUT), thus more gains.
Drop sets are when you perform a movement to a maximum weight limit, drop the weight down, and continue the movement at the lighter weight. These can be programmed for just a set or even extended sets.
Rest-Pause (RP) allows you to hit heavier weight for larger sets and/or reps. For example, your 3RM is 135, but you want to strive past that. Hit the 3RM, Rest for 10-15 seconds, hit it for 1 rep, and repeat until failure or mechanical breakdown. Essentially, you hit your 3RM for 5 reps, creating a stimulating effect to adapt to the higher rep with the same load.
Lastly, AMRAPs are also known as “As Many Reps as Possible”. These are great to elicit fatigue and muscle endurance with lighter loads without a set rep prescription. DB chest press, chest supported rows, pull-ups, and push-ups are just a few of many exercises that can benefit from this style.
If you are still not sure how to spice up your program. Reach out to a coach and see what they can do to add some variety to your program!
MS, CSCS, CPPS, USAW, CFL2