How efficient use of forced repetitions for hypertrophy?



Weight training (resistance training or weight training) is associated with several health benefits like longevity, reducing the risk of injury, among others (Winett & CARPINELLI, 2001). However, many practitioners do not use the method for this purpose, but, aiming muscle hypertrophy, which can lead to improved performance in some sports (e.g. wrestling, rugby, etc.) (Norton & Olds, 2001) or just to improve aesthetics.

For beginners practicing (up to 6 months of continuous training), or intermediaries, weight training performed correctly, even without major manipulations of variables, cause hypertrophic improvements. However, for advanced individuals (years of training), a series of variables must be considered, among them, load and volume (Ratamess et al, 2009;. Mitchell et al, 2013.).

Despite the tradition of 8-12 repetitions for achieving hypertrophy in subjects at advanced level training with weights, Schoenfeld (2011) mentions the need to use different performance techniques. These techniques take into account the execution speed, load variations and other factors that stimulate the physiological demands.

A technique widely used by advanced practitioners, is the forced reps, which requires the teacher monitoring in class, or a friend (usually what we see in gyms, unfortunately) to perform some additional repetitions (FLECK & KRAEMER, 2004).

Regarding the story, there are many scientific reports about the technique, however, publication in a scientific journal in 1971 reported that the bodybuilder Marvin Eder used this technique to be able to go beyond their limits in certain series and followed using for a period where reports good hypertrophic gains. Such a feat has made many practitioners would use the technique from that moment (Physical Directors’ Society of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of North America, 1971).

So far, the only intervention work mentioned in the literature is the Drinkwater et al. (2007), where using the bench press exercise for the study and 3 groups (4 to 6 reps, 12×3 and 8×3), all series were performed with high loads, 90% of 1RM or higher load that requires aid for Finally the series. The study took place over six weeks and found that the series with the largest number of repetitions fared better, despite all the groups have achieved gains in muscle mass in the chest region, there were no significant differences between groups.

Despite the positive results obtained by Drinkwater et al. (2007), there was not a comparison with the traditional method, which prevents a detailed comparison between the methods mentioned power which leads to greater stimulation of hypertrophy.

Regarding the acute response of the method of forced reps compared to the traditional method, were found in the literature 4 studies, namely: Ahtiainen & Hakkinen (2009), Ahtiainen et al (2003), Ahtiainen et al (2004) and Gentil et al ( 2006). All studies were designed to compare on indicators such as lactate, GH and testosterone production. In all studies, due to help, the sobtensão time the group forced reps (RF) was higher.

Other findings of the authors, was the marked reduction in muscle strength and increased electromyographic activity by the RF group. This may occur due to increased load employed, so that the practitioner need help (Ahtiainen, et al. 2004). Regarding the production of testosterone and free testosterone, lactate and creatine kinase, no significant differences were found (Ahtiainen, et al. 2003).

With respect to cortisol, they were reported higher values in the RF group compared to the traditional method. The production of growth hormone (GH), which is supported using a moderate load and a greater volume of training is more effective than the use of high loads and low training volume (SIMILIOS et al., 2003).


A literature review by Hackett (2015), suggests that for the use of forced series with efficiency, it is interesting that there is a considerable amount, with repetitions between 6 and 10 reps and multiple sets.

The use of the method must be careful, because, due to a longer delay in muscle recovery, can interfere with the programming of training, can be harmful to the plan in certain situations.

Another raised observation is that the RF method must be performed by experienced practitioners in order to minimize the risks of overtraining, or use only in the final series of the year.