More isn’t necessarily always good. Realistically, you can only perform so many reps and sets. But keeping your muscles under continuous tension for a longer period of time can lead to greater gains in the weight room. That’s the idea behind a concept known as 1½ Reps.
The longer a muscle stays under tension (aka: Time Under Tension), the more muscle fibers you typically bring into play. The white, fast-twitch muscle fibers seem to respond better to low reps with heavy resistance. Quick, powerful bursts of speed can also produce results in these fibers. On the other hand, your red slow-twitch fibers are influenced better by high reps and more time under tension.
The 1½ Reps technique employs both rep schemes and affects both types of muscle fibers. Although heavy resistance can still be used with this training method, it’s the continuous tension on muscle fibers that can work as a beneficial change up to nearly any weight training routine.
Load the barbell or dumbbells with moderately heavy resistance, an amount of weight that allows at least 8-10 regular reps. Now perform one full repetition, from full extension to full contraction. On the second rep, only do a half repetition before returning to the starting point. Count this as one rep, even though you performed one and a half.
I like working 1½ Reps into several exercises. Try applying it after training a muscle group with a heavy, basic movement. For example, if it’s leg day, do a couple sets of heavy squats for 6-8 reps. For the next exercise, do hack squats using the 1½ Reps method. Go all the way to the bottom of the movement, come up only half way, go back down and then come all the way up for a full repetition. This constant tension really pumps up the quads after blasting them with heavy weight on squats.