When you’re training at home, you might not have access to all the bells, whistles, and heavyweights of your local gym, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get in an effective workout and get results.
Today, we’re going to show you two of our favorite “secret” techniques to build muscle and burn fat when training at home.
(side note: you can easily apply these techniques to your gym training routines as well. It’s just that you have more options at your disposal when training at a fully equipped gym compared to most home gyms.)
With that said, let’s get going!
Two Secret Techniques to Build Muscle at Home or the Gym
#1 Timed Sets
Timed sets are a spin on rest-pause training where you perform a “priming” set that takes your muscles close to failure, rest briefly (15-30 seconds) and perform another mini-set, rest briefly again, and perform another mini-set.
A complete rest-pause set usually entails one “priming set” followed by 2-3 mini-sets, with the final mini-set taken to failure.
Timed sets follow this priming set / mini-set format, but instead of doing a prescribed number of mini-sets, you keep repping out and resting briefly until the timer goes off.
Timed sets are also known as cluster sets since you’re performing clusters of mini-sets instead of traditional straight sets.
The benefit of timed sets is that it helps you get a lot of quality volume on your muscles even when you don’t have access to a lot of weights.
You attack the muscle with everything you have, rest briefly to allow your cardiovascular system to recover, and attack your muscles again. The brief rest is enough to recover your breathing, but not so long that your muscles fully recover.
This helps increase the overall tension on the muscles as well as the metabolic stress (both of which drive muscle growth), and it also creates a ridiculously satisfying muscle pump.
To help better illustrate this, consider the following example using a push up. Under normal circumstances, the common push up is considered too “easy” for experienced lifters and not very effective for building muscle.
However, applying the timed set muscle building technique reinvigorates the push up into a proven results maker.
Here’s how to do it:
- Set a timer for 4 minutes and start performing strict push ups (chest touches the floor, lockout your arms fully at the top). -- This is your “priming” set
- Stop your “priming” set when you feel as though you might fail on the next rep
- Shake out your arms for 15-30 seconds while recovering your breath
- Start repping out push ups again
- As you approach failure, stop the mini-set and take your mini-rest
- Continue repping and resting until the entire 4-minute block is over
- Write down the total number of repetitions you completed and over the subsequent training sessions, aim to increase the number of reps you complete each block
Note: Reps that are performed with sloppy form (bouncing, half reps, etc.) do NOT count. Never sacrifice form just to arbitrarily get your reps higher.
This timed set technique can be used with any exercise and is especially useful with bodyweight movements like push ups, pull ups, dips, rows, lunges, and squats.
#2 Countdown Sets
Countdown sets are similar to timed sets.
However, instead of setting a timer for a certain amount of time and seeing how many reps you can perform within the time limit, you pick a certain number of reps (a relatively “high” number of reps) and then see how quickly you can complete all reps.
As mentioned above, you must use proper form and not cheat your way through the movement to get the rep goal completed more quickly.
Countdown sets again use the rest-pause technique where you perform as many quality reps as possible and stop when you feel you might fail on the next rep (or have to cheat a lot to complete the rep).
Early in your countdown set, you’ll be able to perform a fair amount of reps (10-20). However, as you chip away at your total rep goal, fatigue sets in, and your “mini sets” towards the end may only consist of a single rep or two.
Rest in between mini sets is brief, only long enough for you to catch your breath and gather your wits.
Record the total amount of time it takes you to complete the total number of reps and write that number down.
In subsequent workouts, aim to complete the target number of reps in less time (which increases training density and is a very useful way to implement progressive overload when limited on weight and load).
Again, bodyweight movements are an ideal option for countdown sets. However, you can use this technique with load bearing exercises like squats, deadlifts, or bench press as well as more advanced bodyweight movements to keep progressing whether you enjoy training with weights or not!
One last piece of advice we’ll leave you with is this -- these techniques will push you as hard mentally as they will physically. It can be a grind to perform the same exercise for 4 minutes straight or continually chip away at a rep goal of 50-75 reps on a single exercise.
The first few workouts will seem incredibly challenging, and your cardiovascular system may be the limiting factor, but after a couple of weeks, your body will adapt to the new stress and you will be able to see considerable progress when using either countdown sets or timed sets (or both!)
Since these techniques are so mentally (and physically) demanding, it can be very useful to have a high-quality pre workout supplement to help you push yourself harder and perform better in your workouts.
You want to get the most out of your workouts period! If you have low energy or low performance in the gym, then take a pre workout 30 minutes before you start so that you can get the most out of your workout. 1UP Pre-workout will not only give you the energy and focus boost that you need, but it will also deliver the most important boost in Performance (extra reps; last few reps is where you make the most progress) and Muscle Pump (su‑cient oxygen and blood flow to the working muscles). A muscle that does not receive adequate oxygen will give in, limiting the intensity of an exercise. Most people look to get energy out of pre-workouts, but what you really need is to make sure you are taking something for Performance and Pump. The harder you can go while in the gym, the more calories you will burn which means better results.
1UP Nutrition offers two premium pre workout options in 1UP Pre Women and 1UP Pre Men. These delicious-tasting, all-in-one pre workouts address all the important traits hard-training individuals need from the pre training supplement -- energy, focus, pump, endurance, and stress support.
You want to get the most out of your workouts period! If you have low energy or low performance in the gym, then take a pre workout 30 minutes before you start so that you can get the most out of your workout. 1UP Pre-workout will not only give you the energy and focus boost that you need, but it will also deliver the most important boost in Performance (extra reps; last few reps is where you make the most progress) and Muscle Pump (oxygen and blood flow to the working muscles). A muscle that does not receive adequate oxygen will give in, limiting the intensity of an exercise. Most people look to get energy out of pre-workouts, but what you really need is to make sure you are taking something for Performance and Pump. The harder you can go while in the gym, the more calories you will burn, which means better results.