Schedule two days of strength training per week. For the advanced strength training routine, you need to do three sets per exercise:
- In the first set, you need to get the failure in the 10 to 12 rep range. "Failure" refers to the part of the exercise where you can no longer maintain good form, but still be able to lift the weight. Remember the last three reps are the most important, as they force your body to gain muscle and lose fat.
- For the second set, you will increase weight in the smallest increment possible, and get the failure to the eight to 10 rep range.
- For the third set, if it feels right, increase the weight a little bit more, and then lift the failure in six to eight repetition range.
The tempo of your repetitions is very important. If you go to the gym, you might see several individuals doing their weight lifting a little too fast. But by doing this, the tension created by the lifting can wind up in the wrong area of your body and increase your risk of injury!
For best results, go slow. Do a three-second positive, then a one-second isometric squeeze, and a three-second negative. Focus on contracting your muscle through the entire range of motion, and not just moving from point A to point B.
Every repetition should take at least eight seconds. You should also have a two-second pause at the bottom of the exercise, where your joint is motionless. This prevents you from using momentum to help you with the movement. Doing this will also train your white muscle fiber, which is typically not exercised much.1
SuperSlow Weight Training
Did you know that you can combine high-intensity interval training and weights? This is called SuperSlow Weight Training, created by Dr. Doug McGuff.
The idea is, by slowing everything down, you turn your routine into a high-intensity exercise. This benefits your muscle at the microscopic level to access the maximum number of cross-bridges between the protein filaments that produce movement in the muscle.2
SuperSlow exercises can be done using either free weights or machines. It is beneficial to use the latter, because it will allow you to focus your mind on the effort rather than on the movement.
As for weights, it is best to choose one that is light enough for you to do at least eight repetitions, but heavy enough that you can perform 12 reps. You can apply SuperSlow weight training to these five exercises:3
- Pull-down or chin-ups
- Chest press
- Compound row (a pulling motion in the horizontal plane)
- Overhead press
- Leg press
Here's how to do SuperSlow Weight Training with the exercises mentioned above:4
- Start by lifting the weight as slowly and gradually as you can. Also, when pushing, stop about 10 to 15 degrees before your limb is fully straightened, then smoothly reverse direction.
- Slowly lower the weight back down to the slow count of 4.
- Repeat these until exhaustion. This should be around four to eight reps. It is important that when you reach exhaustion, you don't try to jerk or heave the weight just to get one last rep in. You should keep trying to produce the movement for another five seconds or so, even if it seems ineffective. By using the appropriate amount of weight or resistance, you're sure to finish four to eight repetitions.
- Immediately switch to the next exercise that will target a different muscle group. For that group, repeat the first three steps.
This routine will take no more than 12 or 15 minutes.
Peak Strength Training
What distinguishes peak strength training from regular weight-lifting is that it’s a process where you’re trying to generate a stimulus to cause strength and metabolic improvements, as opposed to simply trying to demonstrate strength by lifting the weight by any means possible.
Ideally, you’d incorporate both versions of high-intensity exercises, as they each provide important pieces of the fitness puzzle. For example, you might do conventional HIIT using a stationary bike once or twice a week, and SuperSlow high-intensity weight training once a week — or vice versa, to end up with a total of three high-intensity sessions per week.
Remember that, as your fitness increases, the intensity of your exercise goes up, and the frequency that your body can tolerate goes down. As a result, you need to continuously customize your program to your own fitness level and other lifestyle issues. As a general rule however, you do not want to do high-intensity interval training exercises more than three times a week.
High-intensity strength training can be done twice a week initially, but as you get stronger you will need more recovery time and eventually drop down to once every seven to 10 days. Any more than that and you’ll put your body under too much strain. Your body needs time to fully recover in between sessions.
What Are the Hardest Bodyweight Exercises?
The easiest bodyweight exercises are mountain climbing and Burpees (historically used in military training, to test the strength and agility of recruits), while variations of push-ups (power push-ups, diamond push-ups, and knuckle push-ups) and creative exercises like windshield wipers (a move that involves doing a pull-up and then swinging your legs from side to side, similar to how a windshield wiper works) are considered intermediate to advanced.
Squats, one of the best single exercises you can do, can also be challenging, particularly single leg squat jumps. Then, there are even more advanced bodyweight exercises, which require extreme strength, balance and fitness, include one-arm handstands and "hand hops," which is actually a breakdancing move.
Nevertheless, these bodyweight exercises are nothing compared to the top five hardest bodyweight exercises listed below, which are considered quite extraordinary feats:
The handstand is a symphony of strength, balance, coordination and self-awareness. Just about every muscle in the body needs to work together to maintain a handstand. The video above is a perfect demonstration of how to perform a handstand.
Balancing on Two Fingers
Only a few people in the world can do this exercise, which involves doing a "handstand" on only two fingers.
One Finger Handstand (Wall Assisted)
A handstand done with only one arm, with only one finger in contact with the floor!
One Arm Pull Up to Handstand
A one-arm pull-up is a feat in and of itself, but a few extreme athletes are able to transition from this position into a handstand.
One Arm Handstand Pushup
This move is a combination of a one-arm handstand and a push-up, driven by momentum and strength.
One Handed Planche
A Planche is a gymnastics move in which your body is held parallel to the ground, making it appear as though you're floating. It's usually done with two hands on the ground for support. A one-handed Planche is that much harder.