Feel like turning your 8 rep max into a 9 or even 10 rep max… TODAY!? Take your 8 Rep Max and from the top of the seventh rep decide that as soon as you start the lifting phase of rep number 8 you are going to grip it like you are trying to leave finger indentations in the bar! If you time it just right rep 8 will feel like the 7th felt or lighter. You will get at least 9 or maybe 10.
Behold the power of intentional irradiation my friends! You have successfully taken advantage of an odd neurological phenomenon. There are pressure sensors on your palms, and when you intentionally grip an object with more force it acts as an excitant to the central nervous system. This leads to certain muscles involved in the movement literally contracting harder than they would have, had you not intentionally gripped the bar with greater than normal intent. The end result equals an instant increase in strength!
This is a preemptive strike however, don’t just start gripping once you’ve already stuck or it won’t be as effective. Instead, if you use good judgement and jump before you are pushed, you’ll nail it. I usually recommend deciding to do it at the top of the planned penultimate repetition.
Don’t deploy this nuclear weapon at the start of the war, it will only end up blowing up in your face. In other words, don’t use this technique from the start of the set or you run the risk of burning out your nervous system and might actually get less reps in my experience. This is what is known as ‘scaling the tension’. This technique works especially well with all pressing and pull up / chin up type movements, and yes, curls as well.
Practice Makes Perfect
In order to ensure that you get the most from this technique you will need to practice it under conditions of reduced pressure, this will speed the learning curve. From your very first warm up set practice gripping the bar approximately 50% harder on the final two reps.
Continue this practice with every set thereafter, even if not planning to go to the limit. In fact perform several progressively heavier, yet sub maximal, warm up sets as you move towards your working weight for the day, and use this 50% rule on the last 2 reps of all those sets. This is your golden opportunity to pattern this technique BEFORE you need it most. It will then come to you more naturally under the pressure of a limit set.