February 08, 2024 2 min read

By Shane Robert

Forced Rep Training is an intensity technique where you continue performing repetitions of an exercise beyond the point of muscular failure with the assistance of a spotter or training partner. The typical protocol involves a lifter completing as many repetitions as possible under their own power until momentary muscular failure, at which point the spotter provides just enough assistance to help the lifter perform additional repetitions. The spotter should only assist as much as necessary to help the lifter complete the repetitions safely.

This kind of training allows lifters to extend a set beyond the point of muscular failure, increasing the intensity of the workout and inducing greater fatigue and damage in the target muscles, ostensibly creating a greater stimulus for hypertrophy. Forced rep training places significant stress on the muscles and the nervous system and, therefore, should be used sparingly to avoid overtraining and the risk of injury. One to two total sets of forced reps per training session are more than enough for this technique. Here's how forced rep training typically works:
  • Pick a weight that is challenging for the desired number of repetitions. Perform the exercise until momentary muscular failure, where you can no longer complete another repetition with proper form.
  • The spotter steps in with just enough assistance to allow the lifter to complete additional repetitions beyond failure. Continue for as many reps as possible until no reps can be completed, even with assistance. This is typically 3-5 more repetitions than first completed without assistance
Forced reps are definitely an effective way to trigger muscle growth. They are also very demanding on the body and require a measured dose to avoid overtraining. The H.I.T. crowd, such as Nautilus and Mike Mentzer, were fans of this intensity technique and they famously only did one total set per exercise for only 2-3 exercises. How much benefit forced reps have over straight sets to failure is debatable, however, they are fun and ensure that you are truly challenging the muscle to (beyond) its max capacity.

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