Sometimes the tried-and-true training methods are the ones that bring the most benefit to any program. Let’s take a step back from the recent fitness trends and take a look at some of the best protocols that are more old-school.
1. Run the rack
Any gym will have a dumbbell rack. It’s the most basic tool in any facility, so use it – all of it! There is no better way to get great pumps than running up or down the rack in weights. You can try this in pyramid sets or just do straight sets in either direction. This is a favorite for high-volume training and can be used for many body parts. Go down by any increment you want (I usually do 5 to 10 lbs.) and go until failure!
2. Bodyweight exercises
In some of the first gyms there weren’t a lot of fancy machines or cables to use, so instead, many would rely on bodyweight exercises to get the job done. These days with all the options in a modern gym, people have gotten away from this type of bodyweight training. Try to finish off your workouts or sets with chin-ups, push-ups, dips, lunges, etc., or even start with these as a warm-up. You will be surprised how hard it can be to use your own bodyweight.
3. Force reps with spotter and negatives
I look back at Golden Era photos and notice everybody trained together and helped one another. Use a training partner to your advantage and get the most out of every set. Try doing some forced reps with your partner helping you get one or two more after failure. Enlist their help from the bottom of the rep while doing negatives with a heavy weight, or with the spotter pushing down for resistance at the top while using a lighter weight.
4. High volume
There wasn’t a bunch of science backing old-school training, so people lifted while listening to their body. Bodybuilders of the past used to lift weights until they couldn’t anymore – if it felt good, do it again and do it for more reps. The pump you get from rep ranges anywhere from 20 up to 60 or more is extreme and feels incredible. Try getting your reps in with drop sets, rest pause or straight sets of high reps/sets.
5. Push/pull splits
Today’s bodybuilders typically work one body part per day, with maybe one other complementary part (e.g., the infamous chest and tricep combo). Try stimulating your muscle in different ways by doing a variety of pushing movements on one day (presses, squats, extensions, etc.) and pulling movements on another (rows, chin-ups, curls, deadlifts, etc.). This will still work your major muscle groups as well as the smaller ones for more of a total-body pump. Switch up the muscle groups and vary the exercises. This will also allow for you to hit each body part several times per week, as back in the day they weren’t concerned about overtraining.