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Strength Training: Are Forced Repetitions Beneficial?

I'm a huge fan of strength training with a buddy, and recently at the gym, I've been hearing a lot about forced repetitions where your weight lifting partner does more than just spot you. If you're not familiar with this term, allow me to explain. If a woman is lifting weights and she has reached her limit and can't do another repetition on her own, someone will assist her with one or more repetitions. These are called forced repetitions. The reason people who strength train do this is because they think this extra bit of effort will help their muscles become stronger.

To find out if forced repetitions are beneficial when it comes to strength training

Unfortunately, forced repetitions aren't making you stronger. I'll explain why. Say you are doing chest presses with a barbell that has 20 pounds of weight. If you get help to do a couple more presses, you're not lifting the full 20 pounds that you were when you were doing the exercise on your own. So in actuality, you're lifting less weight and not working your muscles as hard. Not only that but your muscles are fatigued and forcing them to keep repeating the move could result in a torn muscle. Need scientific proof? In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers examined 22 male athletes who did forced repetitions while weight lifting over a six-week period and found no benefit. So there you have it.

Fit's Tips: If you're looking to tone up and become stronger, a better strategy would be to gradually increase the amount of weight you can lift on your own.


Join The Conversation
Sumhope Sumhope 9 years
When you force the repetitions you end up tearing the muscle which bulks it up (or so ive been told) and being a woman i want long lean muscles not all that bulk so I opt for more repetitions at a lower weight I was at the gym the other day lifting some free weights and when the guy next to me realized he was lifting the same amount of weight as me he went and traded his up, a whole five pounds up. I was both amused and disgusted that he wanted to outdo me.
Lilavati Lilavati 9 years
I love yoga's philosophy to respect the natural limitations of your body - I think it applies everywhere.
nobodymuch nobodymuch 9 years
Does it annoy anyone else that almost all of these exercise physiology studies are done on all male populations? I know military recruits are convenient and historically all male, but come on. How are we supposed to pretend we know anything about exercise during pregnancy when we have to make predictions based on studying MEN?
Spectra Spectra 9 years
It sounds dangerous to me. I've always followed the rule that you should only do as many reps as you can using proper form. Anything beyond that would probably hurt something. As long as you use heavy enough weights, I would think you would get improved strength even without doing forced reps.
CuteDimples CuteDimples 9 years
Your "Fit Tips" says it all, FitSugar! Thank you for this post. People do need to realize that sometimes in strength training, less is more--quality over quantity.
ilikeatea ilikeatea 9 years
Totally agree..that is how a lot of people injure themseleves too. It is a different thing if I am pusing my clients to do more because I know they are capable.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
Forced repetitions definitely don't sound effective or efficient.
tshops tshops 9 years
Have you heard of the hundred pushup challenge ( It's a pretty cool program. Totally agree though that if you can't advance to the next level, you're better off doing a lesser number in proper form!
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 9 years
It really annoys me when I see a group of guys in the weight area doing this, yelling "Come on dude!". Plus, they're being totally over-dramatic, loud grunting, yelling and letting the weights drop to the ground(even though its not allowed). They just look ridiculous!
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