Athletes need strength. And aesthetically, who doesn’t want big arms?
Hyper Strength is a combo set in which the first set is performed in the strength range followed immediately by a hypertrophy set to combine the best of these two styles of training.
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Hyper Strength: Star Wars Analogy
Simplified, there are two types of muscle fibers, slow twitch (type I), and fast twitch (type II). Muscles are like stormtroopers—not very smart and are controlled by a higher source like Darth Vader (the brain). When we decide to move, the brain sends a signal to our muscles to move.
Imagine 100 stormtroopers on a basketball court. Vader is in front orchestrating everything. The stormtroopers are lined up in a perfect 10×10 box and have been given numbers from 1-100. When Vader calls out a number, the designated stormtrooper and all the troopers below him must raise their hand. This is how the body operates with respect to movement and resistance training. Think of type I muscle fibers as stormtroopers 0-60, and type II fibers as 61-100.
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To paint a better picture, stormtroopers 0-60 are light red in color, not very big or strong, but they have great endurance. Stormtroopers 61-100 are white, strong, grow larger, and are very powerful, but they fatigue quickly. When we lift light weights 20-plus times, stormtroopers 0-40 are engaged. For 15-19 reps, troopers 0-50 engage; and when we lift a weight we can only do 10-14 times, troopers 0-60 engage. Stormtroopers 61-100 are significantly larger than their smaller counterparts; real size increases are seen here. Lifting weights between 6-10 reps will engage 0-75 troopers, and 1-5 reps will engage every single stormtrooper in the room.
This analogy describes the Size Principle. The greater the intensity (lower reps), the higher the threshold for motor unit recruitment (more muscle fibers are used). A motor unit is a single neuron cell and all the muscle fibers associated with it. In this analogy, Vader uses the Force to communicate with each stormtrooper, but in the body, the brain uses motor units to communicate with each muscle fiber. A lot of lifters take a black-and-white approach to lifting: 3×10, 5×5 or 4×15. But this broscience approach may limit your potential #GAINZ!
Hyper Strength will help bridge the gap to maximize strength and size.
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How to Implement Hyper Strength
Hyper strength puts the Size Principle to maximal use by engaging the most stormtroopers possible. The more engagement you have, the better results you’ll get. You’ll implement strength training intensity at 85 percent—which corresponds to 5-7 reps—then immediately drop the weight to the hypertrophy range of 60-75 percent, between 8-12 reps. We don’t want you to go to maximal fatigue, because this will compromise your remainder sets. The rest period will be between 2-4 minutes, depending on fatigue. If you were to perform the 60 percent by itself, you’d be able to do a lot more than 12 reps, but because of the maximal motor unit recruitment in the previous strength set, you’d be a little fatigued.
Constantly training in the strength range is very neurologically taxing. What happens to cars at the Daytona 500? They continually need pit stops to change their tires, add fuel and make sure everything is functioning properly.
Training with Hyper Strength is equivalent to a long car race. You’re pushing the body to the limit. You can avoid meltdown by saving 1 or 2 reps in the tank, eating properly and listening to your body. I suggest one session per week, per body part. If you notice a decrease in strength, regress the sets or take out the drop sets.
Squat Drop Set Workout
For example, take an athlete with a 330-pound 1RM Squat, so 95% = 315 pounds. Make sure to save 1 rep in the tank. In other words, don’t go to fatigue. 65% = 205 pounds. Warm-up for 2 or 3 sets.
- Set 1 – 135 x 8
- Set 2 – 185 x 5
- Set 3 – 225 x 2
Working Sets of 5
- Set 1 @ 95% = 315 x 1-2 reps, drop weight to 205 for 8-12 reps; rest 3 minutes
- Set 2 @ 90% = 295 x 2-4 reps, drop weight to 205 for 8-12 reps; rest 3 minutes
- Set 3 @ 85% = 280 x 2-5 reps, drop weight to 205 for 8-12 reps; rest 3 minutes
- Set 4 @ 85% = 280 x 2-5 reps, drop weight to 185 for 8-12 reps; rest 2-3 minutes
- Set 5 @ 85% = 280 x 1-5 reps, drop weight to 185 for 8-12 reps; rest 2-3 minutes