Can’t finish your last rep but want to keep going? If you are an advanced athlete or bodybuilder who is looking to maximize your workout, forced repetitions may be the solution and allow you to press on. This is an option to continue past the point of safely executing a weightlifting exercise when your muscles can no longer take the full weight.
What are forced repetitions?
Forced repetitions are reps completed despite your muscles’ inability to finish on their own strength. This is accomplished with a spotter assisting the lifter enough for them to finish the rep. In addition to fulfilling the natural urge to push through, forced repetitions can be very beneficial for muscle growth and increased endurance. It is believed that forced repetitions enable you to gain more muscle mass by over fatiguing muscle fibres, sparking regrowth and fuller growth at a maximal rate. This is not something even the most experienced lifters should be doing too often as it can be very strenuous on the body. Some athletes also utilize forced reps to bump them up to the next weight with the assistance of the spotter, though not all believe this to be a safe practice.
Do’s and don’ts for forced repetitions
Again, these are not for the beginner or the casual lifter. Forced repetitions, when done correctly and with an experienced spotter, may allow for you to lengthen your workout without going down in weight. It is only advisable to continue through 1-3 additional reps at max, though some would advise to only finish the rep that you are stuck on.
Even in cases where you are not utilizing much strength from your spotter, it is very common that you will fail a lift at some point during a forced repetition. Therefore, the exercise itself must be one where your spotter is in a reasonable position to catch the weight in case your muscles give out. It is generally agreed that not all weightlifting exercises are applicable to forced reps.
Examples of exercises that should not incorporate forced reps include lunges and deadlifts, or where the spotter would have an impractical or awkward hold on the weight. Like most regimens debated in the fitness world, many people disagree about the effectiveness, and the safety of forced reps.
Critics of forced repetitions argue that there is no real way to quantify the amount of work that the person performing the exercise is actually doing while a spotter is helping. Some claim that they might help get you bigger, but not necessarily stronger.
This makes sense for bodybuilders prioritizing muscle mass over actual strength. There are many alternatives to continuing a workout, such as going down a weight for your last few reps, so it ultimately comes down to your preferences and goals.