For hard-training lifters, nothing feels better than knowing you've pushed yourself to your very limits during a workout. The pump, the burning, the next-day soreness, the feeling that your arms are about to fall off—these are all markers of a killer training session. They're also great stimuli for new muscle growth, which is ultimately why you push yourself to the brink.
So how about some top-shelf advice on a finishing move—a specific exercise paired with a brutal technique performed last in your workout—that'll take your pump to the outer limits? It's called 60-40-20, and it adds up to 120 seconds of true agony—but it'll take 120 percent effort to get you there.
Personal trainer Kyle Cavner and I have been using this technique at Destination Gym in Dallas, Texas, for about a year now. It will suck up every last ounce of fuel in your tank, but if you can survive each painful, two-minute set, you'll be rewarded with a massive pump and the promise of future growth.
You've probably had a gnarly pump before and thought you really pushed yourself, but this triples that effect. Again, strategically use this technique at the end of your workout—or, if you're really feeling gutsy, as a pre-exhaust at the beginning.
You'll only need two things: a watch and a high pain tolerance. You can do 60-40-20 on any piece of equipment in the gym, but it may be easier with machines so you don't have to balance a weight as you get fatigued.
Rest, Pause, Grow!
To perform 60-40-20, you select a fairly light weight and lift it for 60 seconds, rack it for 10 seconds, do another 40 seconds of work, rack it again, and finish off with another 20 seconds of work. This completes your first set. If you have a partner, let him go; otherwise, take 2-3 minutes of rest before going again for 3 sets total.
If you haven't already guessed, 60-40-20 utilizes the rest-pause technique with light weights. While rest-pause is typically used to help you complete a heavy set, the aim of 60-40-20 is to push fluids into the trained muscle, expand the muscle fascia, help drive hormonal release, and lead to some serious growth.
While the technique may look easy, it's surprisingly difficult! Here are a few tips to get the most out of this finishing move.
Remember that 60-40-20 is about time, not reps. Don't shoot for a predetermined rep count; go by the stopwatch.
Choosing the right weight may take some trial and error. Use a weight you might warm-up with, or about 50 percent of your one-rep max. If that's too easy or too hard, adjust it immediately so you're able to reach the minute mark with nearly maximum effort.
When doing single-joint exercises like leg extensions, limit your rest period after you complete a full 60-40-20 set to roughly two minutes. With larger muscle groups, extend it to three.
60-40-20 is a mental test as much as a physical one, so push yourself! Keep the intraset rest periods short and fight past the burn.
60-40-20 In Action
Want to see 60-40-20 put to good use? Check out this lateral raise video before you apply the technique to your next workout! If you can make it through the pain, gains will be your reward.