Thinking of ’21’, you may be thinking of the blackjack table at Las Vegas or as a very challenging technique to perform on biceps day, one will leave you broke and the other will mean splitting shirts with amazing muscle pump.
Many lifters have adapted 21s for decades to get a super intense bicep pump, this advanced training technique doesn’t just have to be limited to arm day either, it can also be used as a finishing move for other body parts as well, all will give you the same muscle swell.
Here are the answers you are looking for to adapt the 21s method to any exercise.
You basically target a muscle group with three different ranges of motion for one set. The idea is to complete 21 reps by breaking it down into three parts. The first 7 reps are done over the bottom half of the ROM (range of motion), the second part is another 7 reps done over the top half of the ROM and the final 7 reps are done over a full ROM. By performing partial and full reps in each set you are shocking the muscle to working in a way it normally does not.
A lot of people are familiar with bicep curls using the 21s method. The first 7 reps are done from a fully extended position whereby the joint is completely open till about halfway up, at which point your forearms should be parallel to the floor. Then you go into the next set of 7, which begin at the halfway point and go into full biceps flexion so that the joint is now closed, then you complete 7 full reps from the bottom to the top.
Manipulating reps and ROM’s is a great way to encourage growth, especially if the routine has become a bit stagnant. The initial stage emphasizes the stretch, the middle phase focuses on peak contraction, an area of the ROM where you are likely to be stronger.
The last 7 reps increase the muscles time under tension and serve as a burnout, the overall muscular stress increase causes greater gains, so long as it is coupled with proper rest and nutrition. The 21 method is likely a new and intense stress to your muscles and a big shock to your system.
21s can be done with just about any body part and exercise which makes it a really versatile technique, I wouldn’t recommend it with multijoint movements though, basic compound movements are better with a full range of motion.
If you use this technique at the start of your session it will compromise your basic lifts strength, the majority of basic lifts should be simple and raw with a full range of motion, 21s are much better done towards the end of the workout.
Single-joint exercises work very well with 21s as a finishing movement on any workout. Any machines, cables or equipment will not involve the stabilizer muscles that free weights do, cables will also help give you a constant tension too.
Here are some great workouts to try with 21s for each muscle group. The basic format is always the same no matter what the exercise is. The first 7 reps are done over the lower half of the ROM, then the top half of the ROM and finally 7 full ROM reps.
Muscle Group Exercise
Chest Cable cross-over.
Back Pull-up, assisted if you struggle with a pull-up.
Shoulders Lateral raise.
Triceps Lying skullcrusher.
Biceps Barbell curl.
Quads Leg extension.
Hamstrings Lying leg curl
Let’s take a closer look at some of the variables to be aware of when adding in 21s to a workout.
How much weight should you use?
It is good to start with your 15-rep max (15RM), a weight you can barely do for 15 reps and work out from there, if it is too light, increase the load on future sets or if it’s too heavy just reduce the weight, the last few reps can be very tough.
Can this technique be used by any level of lifter?
These are great for anyone except beginners, it is a good idea to have a solid understanding of basic weight training principles before any shock techniques are employed.
How Many Sets Should Be Done?
Do 1-3 sets or higher if you are an advanced lifter, start on the low-end if you are a beginner, it may even just depend on how much fuel you have left to complete the task.
Should body part training volume be reduced to compensate for increased training intensity?
I just add 1-3 sets of one exercise with 21s in place of 3 normal sets of an exercise i’d do to finish a body part.
Is there a way to increase training intensity more so than just 21s?
It is great if you are looking to push to another level. Try a superset to finish off your legs, combining leg extensions and lying leg curls, both done with 21s, the feeling is extreme.
This superset works great because when you have forced maximum blood into your hammies from the leg curl, you go to the opposing muscle and blast the quads.
With the 21 technique employed you will find that you have maximum pump at every workout.
If you are looking for the ultimate body for spring next year then try this program out over winter and see some amazing results in a short space of time.
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