Strategy1: Forced Reps
There’s more than one way to make your body lift a weight for more reps than it normally would. Clusters are one, another is forced reps. Forced reps are when you perform the negative and a spotter assists in helping you get the weight back up. Just make sure you spotter only helps with lifting the bar and doesn’t end up doing a bent-over row or power shrug to lift the bar for you as well.
Hear’s the programming overview: Take that weight you normally do for a set of 5 and add 2 forced reps at the end. If you do force reps per set for 3 sets, that’s 6 extra reps. Extra reps mean extra work, greater training volume, and improved strength. Now, before you asked the inevitable question about combining strategies1 and 2, avoid the temptation to stack your techniques. You do not want to do forced reps on the same day you do clusters. Alternating clusters and forced reps in a consecutive heavy workout can healp you reap the benefits of both.
Strategy2: Hit the incline
Some people believe incline presses do not translate to the flat bench, and maybe for them, that’s true. There are many others, however, who will tell you that incline are a top assistance move for improving flat press power. In your chest workouts, use inclines for a few of your lifts, varying the angle of the incline and alternating barbells and dumbbells from workout to workout. If you hit the flat bench heavy, for example, you can follow it up with a higher-rep set of incline work. Or, you can go heavy on the incline for a few weeks and use the flat bench like a higher-rep assistance movement afterward.
Strategy3: Cluster sets
The cluster is when you move a heavier weight a few reps, take a mini-rest, and repeat a couple more times. Forcing your muscle to lift a heavier weight than they normally would, even in cluster sets, overload the muscle and forced a strength adaptation. Think of it as a power version of rest-pause training. To perform a cluster set, warm up, then load up the bar with a weight that you can move for 4-5 reps. Do 3 reps with it. This is your first “cluster” rack the weight after the third rep and waits 20-25 seconds. Immediately do another 3 reps, and rest for the same amount of time. Repeat this one or two more times and you’re done.
Hear’s why it works: You just performed 9-12 picture-perfect reps with a weight then you would normally move for 4-5 reps- with the last one probably looking pretty shady. That’s no joke! And eventually, that extra volume will translate to extra strength and a boost in your one-rep max.
Strategy 4: Controlled Power Training
Sometimes strength isn’t just about how much weight you can move, it’s about how fast you can move the weight. Lost of power-lifters devote entire training sessions to improving lifting speed by moving a lighter weight in a very specific way. To apply this strategy to your training program, load the bar with 45-55 percent of your one-rep max. Yes, it’s light, but that’s the point. Lower the weight under control and press it back up as fast as you can. The positive portion of the movement should be a powerful and explosive press. You can do this for doubles, triples, or even 4 reps, but do not do more than that. Rest for 30-45 seconds and repeat.
Do this for 6-10 sets depending on the times you have and amount of volume you want in your workout. Again, do not try to stack this strategy. This should be a separate session 3-4 days after your heavy bench workout.