You already know the “rules” for building muscle—eat big, sleep as much as you can, and keep your reps in the 8–10 range. News flash:

Rules are meant to be broken, especially when it comes to your training. It’s true that a moderate rep range should be your mainstay for building size, but if you’ve been training for awhile, you need a more extreme approach now and then to shock your muscles into new gains.

Try setting an arbitrary but large number of total reps for an exercise, then work until you’ve completed them all. For instance, choose a target volume of 50–100 reps for triceps pushdowns, then try to get to that number in the fewest sets possible.

Choose a relatively light weight and perform as many reps as you can each set, resting as little as possible. Doing this breaks you out of the rut, challenges your conditioning, and gets you pumped. Try it on any exercise—but only after you’ve done your primary work sets


The total-rep approach works well for a single set, too. After you’ve done your work sets, finish off a muscle group with one set of 20–50 reps using a light weight.

The rep count never needs to be exact, but a high number ensures that you get a lot of work in. Try this approach once a month and work to improve your performance each time.