Forced Reps:The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Forced Reps


In earlier posts we talked about some of the best methods for increasing intensity in your workouts such as using partial reps and negative reps. forced reps

In this post, let’s focus on the benefits and possible dangers of doing forced reps.

A forced rep is when you go beyond muscle failure during a set and your workout partner helps you complete the last two or three reps.

For example, the bench press is the most common exercise used for this method of training.  Let’s say you can get 8 reps on the bench by yourself, but on the 9th rep, you get stuck. Your workout partner (spotter) would provide you just enough help on the lift to allow you to complete the rep.

You can always knock out one or two more reps like this with more help from your spotter. However, the key is your spotter should do no more than is necessary to allow you to complete the extra reps with good lifting form.

Unfortunately, some bodybuilders push the envelope and use forced reps in an unsafe, bad and downright ugly way.

Here are my top three dangers to look out for when doing forced reps:

1) Using a Bad Spotter – The internet is filled with videos of bench press accidenforced reps ts that clearly show how inexperienced spotters can cause you serious harm if they don’t know what they are doing.

Make sure you use an experienced spotter, more importantly one that can handle the weight during those forced repetitions.

2) Abusing the Spotter – Don’t be one of those bodybuilders or weightlifters who pile on the poundage and rely more on the spotter to lift the majority of the weight.  This mentality creates a potentially dangerous situation for both you and your spotter. forced rep

For example, on the bench press your spotter has to upright row the bar from an awkward bent forward position so if you have a weight that you can’t possibly press it can spell serious danger for you and your spotter.

3) Misusing Forced Reps – It’s not only important to know how to use forced reps; it’s equally important to know when to finish your forced reps. With each additional forced rep that you do your spotter is lifting more and more weight to assist you with the lift.

As you go beyond failure you have less control of the weight so keep your forced reps controlled because your spotter is not the lifter you are.

My advice is if you are new to bodybuilding you should avoid forced reps until you have mastered good lifting techniques and have prepared your muscles for the stresses involved using this method.

For seasoned bodybuilders adding up to three forced repetitions to each exercise in your workout regimen is a powerful way to maximize your training intensity.

What other methods are you using to increase intensity in your workouts?

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About the author

Marco CarbajoMarco Carbajo is a bodybuilder, entrepreneur, writer, author, speaker, trainer, and founder of, the premier online source for bodybuilders all over the world providing top level workouts, supplements, nutrition, news, resources, and motivation.