Once you’re past the beginner stage of your resistance training life you’re bound to hit some plateaus. This is a good place to add some intensity techniques like super sets, giant sets or drop sets. Well this technique is not as well known but it’s still worth having in your training arsenal. It’s known as One & a Halves or Rep & a Half and it’s another method of ramping up the stress of any given set.
Give One Hundred Percent and then Fifty More
The concept of this intensity technique is to double the amount of reps to any given exercise. You perform a full rep followed by a half rep. You could work the half rep into the easiest half of the movement, therefore stressing the muscle twice as hard in the range where it normally doesn’t get enough stress. Conversely, you could complete the half rep during the toughest half of the move, but you’ll need to use a lot less weight if you use that option.
You could use this method with almost any exercise but these are some prime examples:
Standing barbell curl: start with your arms fully extended and curl the bar up to a full contraction. Remember to keep your elbows pointing straight down. Slowly lower the bar halfway down and stop. Curl the bar back up to a fully flexed position. Now slowly lower the bar back down to a full hang and perform another full rep. You could also perform the half rep at the bottom of the movement, which tends to be the easier half, but try the top half if you want a tremendous pump.
Pull-ups & chin-ups: I’ve had a long term love/hate relationship with these moves because they’re so effective and so difficult. If you want to use this technique with these moves you’ll need to make sure you fully extend at the bottom. The bottom half is the easiest so if you really want to test yourself try adding the half rep during the top portion.
Bench press : If you wanted to focus on working the chest muscles perform the half rep at the bottom of the move. If your focus is on the triceps perform it at the top half. You could also use this method to increase your bench power by adding the half rep where your power is lacking.
Squats : To adequately use this method with squats you’ll need to be able to take your squat low and make sure that your form is impeccable. Most lifters find once they get past the top half of the squat it becomes lighter so that would be the obvious place for your half reps. I wouldn’t recommend performing the half rep at the bottom of a squat.
When 110% Just Isn’t Enough
Resistance training can be a game of numbers. We’re always counting reps, sets, time and Pounds. The gym currency trades in 5s, 10s, 25s, 35s and 45s but let’s throw in some 1 & a halves once in a while. Intensity techniques are not meant to be used during every training session but a wise man once said “sixty percent of the time, they work every time.”