Paused Reps: Zero Momentum

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For Christmas this year, I received the gift of strength. It’s the best gift I received. On Christmas Eve I broke a leg day record by passing my personal best. I am proud to report that I reached 8 plates on the leg press. That is 360 pounds. According to weight training load calculators, my 1RM is 508 lbs. That is about 10 plates and 2 quarters. Can I press that once is the question? The 360 in itself isn’t that impressive, but add paused reps into the equation and well…if you have tried that type of training you know what I mean, and if you haven’t, good luck gaining power.

I followed up the heaviest set with hacks and sets targeting hams and calves. I have actively been using paused rep training and it’s working just like the big kids promised. In the second quarter of 2015, I plan to move to cluster training for 3 months then back to paused reps. There are so many articles out there about paused rep training. I have read many and I will say that in June of 2014, Robert Comacho wrote one of the best yet. I love fit smart people. His article is titled Get Stronger and Stay Honest With Pause Reps. Camacho says “pause repetitions are a tried-and-true method of adding muscle and strength and should be a mainstay in any true strength-training program.”

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Camacho starts by defining strength. From nervous innervation (control, motor skill, muscle memory) to elastic tissue and bones to muscularity to mobility, he makes “the case for pause reps.” This type of training is “the opposite of ballistic or plyometric training” so it forces you “to face your challenge with strength and strength alone. Pausing at the bottom of the repetition allows the elastic energy to dissipate while simultaneously breaking your momentum. There is no stored energy to take advantage of, no kinetic energy to roll with. When you pause, all you’ve got is your muscles to produce the force you need. No tricks, no cheats, just pure strength.”

With that said, I would highly recommend some pausing if you haven’t tried it. I can say that over the last few months, I have mastered this method. I’m now able to bend my workouts in new ways. Yesterday I completed a paused rep leg workout and killed my legs. Every set was paused unless it was really heavy. The variation I ran with yesterday featured 21s with a negative, 3 second pause on every 3rd. I jotted down this routine in case anyone out there wants to try it. It is a good 500+ rep leg workout.

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•••ZERO•••ZERO•••ZERO•••

Christmas Eve Paused
Rep Leg Workout

Super Set 1
Leg Press+Seated Calve Raise

•21 reps (90 lbs)+ 21 reps (30 lbs)
•21 reps (180 lbs)+ 21 reps (40 lbs)
•21 reps (270 lbs)+ 21 reps (50 lbs)
•12 reps (360 lbs)+ 21 reps (60 lbs)
•10 reps (360 lbs)+ 21 reps (70 lbs)
•10 reps (360 lbs)+ 21 reps (80 lbs)
•6 reps (380 lbs)+ 21 reps (90 lbs)

Super Set 2
Hack Squat+Stiff Legged Deadz

•21 reps (50 lbs)+ 15 reps (40 lbs)
•21 reps (60 lbs)+ 15 reps (50 lbs)
•21 reps (70 lbs)+ 15 reps (60 lbs)
•10 reps (80 lbs)+ 15 reps (70 lbs)

Super Set 3
Seated Leg Curls+Standing Calve Raise

•21 reps (60 lbs)+ 15 reps (30 lbs)
•21 reps (70 lbs)+ 15 reps (40 lbs)
•21 reps (80 lbs)+ 15 reps (50 lbs)
•21 reps (90 lbs)+ 15 reps (60 lbs)

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6 Comments on “Paused Reps: Zero Momentum”


  1. One thing I’ve found over the years is that there’s no single magic bullet for training. Paused reps, or we called the pause reps, have their value but ballistic training does as well. The nice thing about that is you can cycle through different training approaches thereby stimulating results in all the parameters of training. Where I would draw the line is things like jump squats and true plyometrics. I’d indulge in those very sparingly at best because of their traumatic impact on your body’s frame.

    • ~Felicia~ Says:

      Exactly!!! Switch it up! That’s what works. Shock the muscle. Ballistic? Hummmm….what’s that all about? Rec some good links for me.
      ~~~F


      • First of all let me apologize for the typos. I need to start proofing my comments!

        All athletics are ballistic. Training specificity would dictate that you simulate the competitive environment in training. As such, ballistic work has been incorporated in the strength and conditioning field in the last couple of decades. Though viable ideas like timed reps, duration under load, etc. from guys like Poliquin are batted around, I’ve never been a big fan.

        All Olympic weightlifting is very ballistic, training football players to snap off the line is all about maximizing power, that is force X distance divided by time. Most gym people forget about the “divided by time” part. Powerlifting is a misnomer as Olympic lifting requires far greater power since it involves very fast movement. Developing things like hip snap is what maximizes power, trying to recruit the maximum number of motor units all at once.

        It’s very common for accomplished athletes to train in a highly ballistic manner. In old footage of world record holder Brian Oldfield training, it’s amazing how ballistic his movements were. But really, who’s going to train productively for throwing shot and discus with slow controlled movements?

        My blog obviously isn’t a training how-to. Though it’s my background and professional training, I’ve got no desire to help out the ignorant masses. But I can tell from your posts that your serious about it. If you want to speak more in depth, feel free to email me directly at the address listed on my blog.

        Meantime, good luck and happy training for 2015… do your best to avoid injury. That’s what ultimately holds us all back. So stay healthy.

      • ~Felicia~ Says:

        Don’t worry about the typos…I didn’t notice any!?! Good to care though. Good to care. I’m a writer and understand, yet I type comments and such like I’m not.

        Hum….I didn’t know all athletics are ballistic, which makes me seem like part of the “ignorant masses” LoL, but I can assure you that is not the case. I have been training for years, but over the last few I have been gaining focus and taking time to educate myself in better ways. I work with scholars in my career field and figured it was time I heighten my education with regard to fitness as well. I’ve been in the gym for close to two decades though.

        I did look into ballistic training and found links to plyometrics (which I know is the opposite of what I have been doing…pausing). I also watched videos of football players training on special equipment to stimulate the fast twitch. Watched some others of training with medicine balls and kettle. I’ll have to check out the Oldfield stuff. I like old footage…I’m an archivist by profession. I understand I need to do movements which stimulate both slow and fast twitch, so I’ll work on revamping things.

        Thanks for the offer on how-to stuff for the ignorant LoL. I’m doing a’ight on my own so far. Making gainz. 🙂 I am very serious. Some may go so far as to call me a bitch with focus, but I’m cool with that. That’s what happens when you’re on a mission eh? I’m not in the gym to buddy up. I suit up…the Beats go on, my music makes me tingle, and I disappear into the Fe. I like it that way.

        Thanks for all the tips! To a healthy, strong, dedicated, injury free 2015! Fingers crossed after the grip is secured eh?! Haha

        ~~~Felicia


  2. The dynamics of switching fast and slow twitch motor units can be helpful in designing training protocols but it can be counterintuitive and most regular personal trainer types are unfamiliar with it.

    I don’t think you’ll find the Oldfield stuff unless he’s posted it to youtube. It was from his personal collection that I watched years ago… But it’s worth a search. Good luck with all and feel free to ask.


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