A really good pump in the gym is what hooks everyone. Your muscles are absolutely bombarded with blood. Everything is an inch bigger than it was when you first walked in. Stress and anxiety are relieved. Negative thoughts or emotions turn positive. Sometimes these pumps can be so intense you feel as though you can work for another two hours straight. This is the lifter’s high.
Doesn’t matter if you’re already in great shape or you’re completely new to the gym—these will help you walk out of your session feeling solid.
Many of these techniques are built around the basics such as supersets, dropsets, rest pauses, statics, eccentrics, partials, and more.
You can add some of these to your existing plans, or use them for future ones.
For a longer-term plan, specifically when you’re trying to get bigger, stronger, and leaner, check out The Size, Strength, and Shred Cycle. This downloadable PDF is a combination of 3 effective HFP programs pulled into 1 for a total of 16 weeks of training. If you’re still very new and need to start a little slower, check out The 12-Week Accelerated Starter’s Plan.
#1. Rep tempo throttling
This is a modified dropset. The difference here is that the beginning is a slow tempo, after the drop you throttle up the speed. Start the set with a slow tempo, after reaching failure, drop the weight significantly enough to reach the same number of reps but at a faster tempo.
#2. Rep gapping
Your first set is super heavy and super low reps. Let’s say 5-6. Your next set is super light and super high reps. Let’s say 15-20. Continuously juggle back and forth. You will need to adjust the weight. Most people perform their heavier sets in the beginning while they have the most amount of strength, then move onto higher reps and lower weight in the later sets. This throws a wrench in that, but the experimentation it worth it.
#3. Stretched rests
In between each set, instead of taking a regular rest, you’re going to stretch the muscle you’re working on for 30 seconds. This works particularly well with the chest, quads, and hamstrings. You’re going to notice that you won’t nearly have as much strength as usual, but the blood flow and pump will be intense. Don’t be surprised if you need to dramatically reduce the resistance with each set. That should be expected.
#4. The big pyramid
Try this with a barbell curl and a barbell lying extension. Find a weight you can do about 15 reps of each exercise. Perform a set of 10 curls, then immediately perform a set of 10 extensions, then immediately perform a sets of 9 curls, then back to 9 extensions. Repeat this process all the way down to 1, then work your way back up to 10 again. Try it with any opposing muscle group/exercises. (Beware: compound exercises can be very tiresome.)
#5. Heavy partials+light fulls
This particular trick works well for the lateral raise. Grab a heavy pair of dumbbells and perform as many partial reps of side raises as possible. You only need to move the dumbbell a couple inches—just enough to fire the deltoids without overextending them. After you fail on the heavy partials, head over to a cable station or grab a pair of very light dumbbells and perform a set of full range lateral raises to failure.
#6. Alternating sets or Blended sets
Instead of doing a few sets of flat bench presses, then moving onto the incline or decline, alternate them. Your first set could be flat, rest, then your next set could be a peg up, rest, then the following set could be another peg up. Do 3-5 sets of each angle with 30-60 sets rest in between.
#7. Loaded sets
Consider this as throwing the everything but the kitchen sink at your muscles. Start with your first set of an exercise as a heavy, slow rep for 6. When you reach failure, perform a 5 second rest pause and attempt another 1-2 reps. When you reach failure again, perform of a dropset (20%) to failure. Then, again, perform another dropset. At the point of your last rep, perform a static hold for as long as you can.
*Drop sets/Strip sets
Pick an exercise, sets, and reps. Instead of performing a prescribed number of reps then resting before the next set, immediately drop the weight and perform nearly the same number of repetitions. To make this even more difficult, drop it again for a 2nd or 3rd time. The example above is a triple drop of dumbbell shoulder presses: 50s are done for 4-5 reps, 40s for 5-7, and 25s for 6+. Complete 5 rounds.