Methods for Increasing Strength
By Dennis B. Weis "The Yukon Hercules"
I have been a published iron game journalist and author for nearly
27 years and one of the most frequent questions I am asked is "What
are some of the most radical and perhaps bizarre methods you have
ever heard of for increasing strength?"
There are at least two dozen bizarre methods
I can quickly think of but four that are perhaps the most thought
provoking are: 1. The Mandibular Orthopedic Repositioning Appliance
(M.O.R.A.). 2. The "Homeostatic Stance" 3. The Myo-Genetic
Set 4. How To Determine Your Optimal Workout Load
Here is an encapsulated summary of each one.
No. 1: M.O.R.A.
The Mandibular Orthopedic Repositioning Appliance
( or M.O.R.A.), is better known to the average person as simple
a mouth piece. Some bodybuilders and power lifters are said to have
used this device when doing heavy, heavy presses, squats or dead
The M.O.R.A. positions the jaw in a balanced
manner so that when a person clinches their teeth the muscles of
the jaw will be contracting in an even manner. This allows the bodybuilder
or power lifter to concentrate more fully on the lifting of the
barbell and not have to be concerned about their teeth and jaw.
It is said that the barring down with the jaw under the pressure
of a heavy lift, tapes the adrenal gland for an increase of adrenal
secretion. Supposedly this will increase the strength potential
of the average lifter by as much as 10-15% and 5% in those of world
No. 2: Homeostatic Stance
The second method for instant strength increases
is the "Homeostatic Stance". This method was invented
by a chiropractor named Dr. Sipple. Simple put you take your regular
stance, be it in the squat or press over head , but with one slight
difference. One foot (usually your shortest leg) is positioned approximately
3 inches ahead of the other and with the feet adducted or turned
in ever so slightly.
It seems that by altering your stance in the
manner described the stress between the working muscles are set
in harmony with one another and best of all there is no knee pain.
If you elect to give the "Homeostatic Stance" a ride say
in the squat, back off your normal exercise poundages and
give yourself a month to get accustomed to this new position before
once again using your previous exercise poundages.
Claims of a 50% increase in strength and about
100% in endurance have been made. I personally have not been witness
to this nor is there any scientific data to back up these claims
so I will let you decide on the value of the "Homeostatic Stance".
No. 3: Myo-Genetic Set
The third method for increasing strength is
the Myo-Genetic Set. This valuable training concept was created
by Dr. G.K. Knowlton, a chiropractor, and prolific writer in the
iron game many years ago.
The basic premise of the Myo-Genetic Set is
1) Load up a barbell (after a specific warm-up)
with a poundage you are capable of for a near maximum single effort
(MSE). If the poundage is not quite heavy enough simple use very
strict form and do a super slow rep. If the weight is too heavy,
you may have to use some controlled cheating. After a few workouts
you will be able to gauge your starting poundages more accurately.
Begin now by doing one-rep in full exercise range of motion.
2) Quickly remove enough poundage so that a second single rep can
be performed. This should be done in a manner which will not allow
you to stop and rest.
3) Perform 8 to 10 consecutive single reps in
the manner described. Completion of the final rep is considered
to be one set. Do only 1 to 2 sets per major/minor muscle group.
Do only 6-8 Myo-Genetic Sets per any given workout. If for example
you are training the total body on a scheduled workout day you would
only do Myo-Genetic Sets for say 3 or 4 of the muscle groups.
4) Work each muscle group once and at the most
twice per week when using the Myo-Genetic Set(s) concept and at
the most for a total of 4 to 6 weeks in duration.
5) As mentioned earlier be sure to warm-up (general
and specific) completely before performing a Myo-Genetic Set.
No. 4: How to Determine Your Optimal Workout
To achieve the greatest muscle gains possible
you must train with as high of intensity and volume of exercise
as you can without over training. The key is to avoid over training
in order to stimulate the muscle and not annihilate it. About 10
years ago I learned a couple of methods for determining optimal
workout load (which in turn maximizes and accelerates muscle gains
to previous unattainable levels) from a gentleman named Kevin A.
Here are the two methods Dr. Pezzi suggests
a person do to determine their optimal workout load when training
with the heavy iron.
Method #1: This particular concept will give
you an instant insight as to whether you are over training. If for
example you are a right-handed individual, your upper body on the
right side should be greater than the left ( 1-Limb Lifting such
as one-legged squats, one-dumbbell curls, one-dumbbell [or barbell]
press and squat). If you dont see a strength increase on the
dominate side of your body when employing Uni-Lateral or Asymmetric
Training (and actually get weaker) after a predetermined period
of time then this is a clue that you may be over training.
Method #2: This concept allows a person to
determine his/her optimal workout load and as well objectively evaluate
such variables as (number of sets, reps, frequency of exercise,
etc.) and its effects on your muscular development.
Here how this method works. Select an exercise
for evaluation such as the Standing two hands barbell curl, for
example. If you have been performing 4 total heavy sets for this
exercise and you think you may be under training try 6 total heavy
sets for 2-3 weeks. Now compare the results during this time period
with the results for an equal period of time on the previous 4 total
heavy sets (keeping an accurate training log of exercises used,
number of sets/reps, dates of workouts,[intermediate, muscle specific,
critical term recuperation ]and miscellaneous factors such as lack
of sleep, injuries, illnesses are of vital importance for making
such comparisons). If you find that your progress has accelerated
from doing 6 total heavy sets as compared to the previous 4 then
you were under training. Increase the total number of heavy sets
from 6 to perhaps 8 (and no more) and repeat the process as described.
It is important to note that if at anytime
your strength or size decreases while the evaluations of the effects
of optimal workout loads (i.e. 6 sets as compared to 4 sets, etc.)
are being studied you are over training and need to immediately
REDUCE the workload on the biceps to previously accepted workout
Another variable to the above described method
would be to substitute the One-dumbbell curl for the Standing two
hands barbell curl, performing a different number of sets and reps
for each arm. For example for the next 2-3 weeks you might do 6
total heavy sets of say 6 reps each for the right arm and 8 sets
of 4 reps for the left. Reverse sets and reps protocol for each
arm after 2-3 weeks and continue on in the manner described for
another 2-3 weeks. Continue to evaluate your response to the variable
number of sets and reps.
Dr. Pezzis espoused method (#2) will
work not only on the biceps but on any other major or minor muscle
group as well. Generally when using the method described (above)
for evaluating training responses the number of sets would in most
all cases never exceed 8 to 9 total heavy sets per a select muscle
group. As a result you should only be using one exercise per a select
Dr. Pezzi suggests that it may take a few months
to determine optimal workout loads.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about
the 4 radical methods I have presented for increasing strength.
Id be interested in hearing from you (the reader) regarding
unusual methods you have heard about or used personally for making
huge leaps in strength.