Building Muscle Size & Power Using Forced Reps
During recent months, those directly following the Mr. America contest, Marvin’s measurements remained fairly consistent and those who saw him felt that he had reached the absolute maximum of muscular development for a man of his height. In looking at him, you have to agree that it is hard to imagine where he could find room for any more muscle on his body. His arms in particular appeared to be fully developed, for the sweeping muscular contours and deeply etched definition combined with short bone lengths create an appearance of massive size so that one would think further increase to be impossible.
While Marvin’s measurements remained about the same during these months, his power definitely was increasing, for he went up to 300 lbs in a standing barbell press, and made 432 in beautiful form in the bench press. Both these lifts were made with power to spare, with evidence that more could be expected in the future (Marvin ultimately reached the truly incredible level of 510 strict bench press and 520 floor press at 198 bodyweight, by the use of Forced Rep training and the use of other advanced Weider power training principles – Ed. note.). It is natural for a man to continue to grow stronger, even if there is no increase in measurement or bodyweight as he approaches fuller maturity, so I was not surprised to find him breaking records regularly in his training.
But Marvin was not satisfied. He is a modern bodybuilder, one who believes in the latest bodybuilding methods, such as the set system, super sets, flushing, quality training and so on. He has used them all in his training and each has helped him in power and development.
He was not satisfied with his achievements, and so experimented with different training methods, searching for the key to size and strength (bodybuilders in the Weider era of bodybuilding don’t have to flounder around for techniques of bodybuilding, because the Weider Research Clinic has done all that for them,and continues to work at developing new and better methods of building muscle and power – Ed. note.).
Imagine my surprise when Marvin walked into my office and said . . . “I gained seven pounds bodyweight and 1/2″ on my arm in six workouts . . . two weeks time in all.” Remember, this is Marvin Eder, the man who didn’t gain fast, beside which he was already a champion of power and a bodybuilding titleholder.
Asking Marvin to take off his shirt, I took out the absolutely accurate tape I keep in my desk drawer, pulled it snugly around his tensed upper arm and saw an 18.75″ measurement! A full half-inch larger than it had ever been before. Please note that I am talking about COLD measurements . . . Marvin had been able to pump up his arm close to 19″ during workouts, but never had it been over 18.5 cold until just now.
Sensing a story, I took out my notebook and pencil, asking . . . “How did you do it?” When Marvin speaks I usually just take notes and listen, for he knows what the readers want to learn and I seldom have to ask questions. So, form this point on, let me quote you the words of Marvin Eder as I took them down . . .
Forced reps is the answer to my recent gains. After being stuck at 190 lbs and an 18.25″ arm for nearly four months, I was getting discouraged. I tried performing more exercises, working out more often, taking layoffs, eating more heavily, getting more sleep and everything else that has helped me in the past. I just couldn’t budge.
Then one day while practicing heavy bench presses, I asked Artie Zeller and Abe Goldberg to spot me with the weights. I made 4 reps nicely and on the 5th found myself stuck. “Force it out!” roared Abe, and both he and Artie placed their fingers on the ends of the bar, giving me just enough lift to complete the repetition. “Help me with another one,” I said. They did. “Another one,” I grunted. And they did, making 7 reps, 4 done in regular style and 3 done with the forced reps method, with just a little lift from them to make the lift possible.
When they took the weight from my hands and I stood up I looked in the mirror, I had never before seen my arms, shoulders and pectorals so pumped and bulging. Suddenly it hit me. Forced Reps could be the answer to further muscular gains. That workout I did 5 sets of forced rep bench presses, 5 sets of forced reps strict barbell curls and 5 sets of forced reps lying close grip triceps extensions.
It is hard to explain the feeling I had in my muscles. It as as though there was a vibrant burning action, deep inside the muscle tissue, pumping the arm full of new power and fullness. The next morning I measured my upper arm and it was 1/4″ larger than ever before.
At this point I interrupted Marvin. You and I know what forced reps are, but some of our readers may not be familiar with this term. Will you explain the term, so our readers will understand what you mean? Once again, from this point on, I am quoting Marvin’s words.
Forced reps are done in this manner: you select a weight with which you can accomplish 4 reps unassisted. Then you have two assistants stand at the ends of the bar, and when you get stuck and can’t complete a repetition, these assistants give you just enough help to complete the rep. It is from this that we get the term ‘forced reps’. They must help you evenly, exerting equal pressure on each side, and give you just barely enough to complete the rep. The help they give you must vary. By this, I mean that they must watch you closely, giving a little more help when you reach a real sticking point, and a little less when you have passed this point, and your muscles have more strength because of the more favorable position.
In this way you do not limit yourself to a poundage that you can handle only in the sticking point of the exercise, for you can use a weight which will give the muscles a complete workout over their full range of motion, demanding from them maximum exertion at all stages of an exercise.
It is because of this maximum exertion principle that certain sections of a muscle are more completely stimulated than before and naturally a more complete development of size and strength throughout the entire muscle results.
Up to this time I have only employed this forced reps principle in the wide grip bench press, lying close grip triceps extension and the strict standing barbell curl. In just 6 workouts, covering 2 weeks, I have gained 1/2″ on my arms and 7 lbs bodyweight. (These gains are even more remarkable when you consider that Marvin Eder didn’t have our “Crash-Weight Formula #7 or Super Pro 101 to work with. With their help, his gains would have been much higher – Ed. note. You just gotta love the hard sell here!).
I expect to try the principle on other movements later on, but for the moment, because of the severity of this type of exercise procedure, I feel that it is best to restrict it to only a few movements.
The above is the story about forced reps as related by Marvin Eder to me. It is another miracle of modern weight training which will once again help many bodybuilders who have been stuck in measurement and power and need something new and more advanced to make gains again. There are some misunderstandings about this method in some people’s minds that I would like to clear up now.
To begin with, forced reps training was advocated by Weider some time back.
It has been used with benefit by Reg Park and other top bodybuilders, all of whom agree that for the advanced men, the ones near the peak of their development, such a system of training brings unusual results.
You should use about 20 lbs more in the prone press with the forced reps style than you can use in the unassisted style. The reps should be low, about 7 for each exercise, and the sets rather high, about 5 sets per exercise. Don’t try to perform more than 2 or 3 such exercises in any workout.
While Marvin feels that forced reps are very advanced work, and only for the extremely advanced man (with modern Weider supplements and new nutritional knowledge you need not be a very advanced bodybuilder to use forced reps, as these advancements help you recuperate faster and build more muscle quicker – Ed. note.), there is still a strong possibility that other bodybuilders, those who have found themselves stuck in their training, could benefit too. There is no reason why any bodybuilder, apart from the total beginner, shouldn’t try forced reps. If they fail to give him gains, they are too advanced for him and he should cut them out of his training. I personally believe that most bodybuilders will benefit, provided they use some common sense and practice the principle in only a few exercises, such as the bench press, squat, biceps curl and triceps curl.
I’ll let you readers in for a scoop now. Both Reg Park and Marvin Eder have promised me that sometime soon they are going to follow an advanced Weider program of forced reps, SUPER SET STYLE (they did try it, and made even greater gains on it, which catapulted them to world fame – Ed. note). This, to my way of thinking, would represent the ULTIMATE in exercise severity and I hope to have a report on this soon.
Until then, try out forced reps as outlined in this current article. See the results for yourself. See how this new principle will give you a greater feeling of exercise stimulation than you ever felt before. Remember that Marvin Eder gained 1/2” on his arms and 7 lbs bodyweight in 2 weeks, and that he told me his strength has gone up correspondingly. It is the latest championship secret revealed for your use . . . so take advantage of it. And while doing so, watch these points:
- Select only three upper body exercises to begin with. Bench press, barbell curl, and lying triceps extension being good ones.
- Use a poundage you can handle for 4 or 5 reps unassisted.
- Have two training partners, one standing at each end of the bar, ready to give you just a little help in raising the weight when you get stuck.
- Perform a total of 7 reps, forcing out the last 2, and from 3-5 sets of each exercise.
- It’s very easy to overtrain with force reps, so be sure to get lots of Vitamin C from bioflavinoids, protein, and sleep.
- Don’t make the rest of your program too long, rounding out your routine with 6 to 8 exercises for the other parts of the body, performed the way you always do them.
- Don’t continue the forced reps program for any bodypart for more than a month at a time — rest — hit any other area or two — rest again for a few weeks — and go back to the curls, extensions and prones. And watch your muscles grow . . . Grow . . . GROW!