High-rep, tension-overload (TORQ) training provides an unreal feel, and it’s been adding new size to trainees in surprisingly short time periods. Feedback has come in from multiple people claiming impressive gains within only 3-4 weeks of having started this
intense muscle-building and fat-burning training method. The combination of full-range training (3D MB) with tension overload methods on just one of the 3D moves has garnered a lot of praise from gym rats, but many have a really hard time getting around the mental roadblock of using lighter weights around others in the gym. The feel is so impressive that people want to continue using the TORQ approach, but questions often arise from trainees wanting to at least add some weight to each set when training with this method. Rounds with this technique generally consist of three sets at 30-20-15 reps, so it’s obvious the ego needs to go.
Mixing up techniques to optimize muscle gains is great approach in many ways, both physically and mentally. As for adding weight to each set while using tension overload, that will often depend on the exercise and where your using that technique within the 3D body part routine…
As an example, if you’re doing bench presses as your first chest exercise, and if you’re using the TORQ method of tension overload, then you’ll probably be able to add weight to each successive set. The reasons for this are because you’re fresh, and because this is a compound, multi-joint exercise, so you have the most strength. Muscle synergy, or teamwork, also plays a large role with big exercises like this.
A key point to remember with the TORQ method is that you should be aiming for for 30 reps on the first set, rest for 45 seconds, try to get 20 on the second set, rest 45 seconds, then try to get 15 on your last set. The first two sets will allow you to push the target muscle into the high-end hypertrophic tension time of 60 to 90 seconds. That’s precisely why tension overload techniques stimulate new growth. As a bonus, you should be going to failure, or very close to it, on all three sets, and that brings about maximum fiber recruitment. That’s a great combination for muscle stimulation.
At your next chest workout, you may use TORQ on the second exercise, which would normally be the stretch movement if you’re using the 3D protocol. That would be dumbbell flyes in this instance, rather than bench presses, and it would create a very unique stimulation. Plus, you get a lot of stretch overload, which is another key pathway to extreme muscle building as mentioned in previous blogs.
Then at your third chest workout, you may use TORQ on your final exercise in the 3D sequence, which would be the contracted-position exercise. Cable crossovers or pec deck flyes are the most popular for chest contraction. Either of those will provide continuous tension on the chest, and they both allow for maximum peak contraction. Your pecs get no rest throughout the set, so you get extended occlusion. Occlusion is blood-flow blockage, and it’s yet another component to unlocking hidden growth potential.
The dumbbell flyes and cable crossovers or pec deck flies are single-joint exercises, and you’re likely doing them after bench presses or incline presses. If you’re like most trainees, that means you probably used heavy weights, so its less likely that you’ll be able to add weight on those second two exercises when using TORQ. If you do, your reps will probably drop too low, and that would mean only one set would get the high-end hypertrophy hit. Plus, the last set with lower reps would likely only get you about 20 seconds of tension time. That’s the strength-building zone, so it’s fine if that’s your goal, but if maximum muscle-building is what you’re after, the higher tension times are where it’s at.
Mr. America Doug Brignole, who inspired this TORQ method, actually adds weight on every set of every exercise. The big difference, however, is that he does just one exercise per body part at every workout. He also does more sets, and the biggest difference is that he starts with 50 reps on his first set. Oh, and he also does a double drop set on his final round. That’s the Super TORQ method, and it hurts… But it works!
Don’t believe me? Give it a try. With chest as the example still, at your next workout pick a single exercise such as dumbbell bench presses. Choose a weight with which you can get 50 reps on the first set, rest for 45 seconds, do 40 reps on the second set, rest 45 seconds, then try to get 30 reps on the next set, rest 45 seconds, and then 20 reps, 45 seconds of rest, and then try to get 10 reps on your last set. Once you’ve reached failure on that final set of 10, and without any rest, reduce your weight and do as many reps as you can (probably 7-9), reduce weight again with no rest, and fire out as many final reps as you can. It will probably be 5-8 reps, and your pecs will be on fire. The skin-stretching pump you’ll feel be unlike anything you’ve ever felt before.
This is one of my favorite training methods currently, but I also like a bit of variety, so I’ll often switch things up for my own sanity, as well as simply hitting as many muscle fibers as possible. I’m currently using a 3-day split and training 6 days a week, so the first chest workout will sometimes be with standard TORQ as mentioned earlier. That gives me a broad range of reps on 3 different exercises. Then I’ll often use Super TORQ on the second chest workout for supreme focus and complete muscle annihilation.
As you can imagine, the weights you’ll use will take some experimenting with in order to reach your target rep range. The weights will probably be lighter than you might want at first, but don’t think for a moment that this means it will be easy, however. If any of the sets are easy, you’re doing it wrong! The burn from even just the first with either method is intense, and the resulting pump is otherworldly. That’s all magnified with Super TORQ, and you’ll quickly see why one set for any given body part is more than enough.
About the Author
Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns X-Rep.com where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog. He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.