Well they certainly picked a very ominous sounding name for this training style. This is a concept created by Tom Fuller and Michael Palmieri and is an offshoot of their HRT or ‘Hell Raiser Training’ program. The idea was created to help make sure a lifter achieved a more productive muscle pump during the workout.
Now this program is designed for bodybuilders and lifters who are looking primarily for muscle size. While you will gain strength as well, Fuller and Palmieri are very upfront about the fact that this program wants to work both sarcoplastic and myofibrillar hypertrophy of the muscle and create a great pump.
They were concerned with lifters hitting plateaus and being unable to attain a muscle pump as easily when they would advance in training. So this Hellcentric approach is meant to power through sticking spots and blast the muscle into a new level.
The Hellcentric Approach
This style of working out can only be done with a training partner. The backbone idea is using forced reps to help increase the workload at the end of each set. So obviously this is something you can’t do by yourself and trying to constantly grab a spotter and explain what you are doing is rather disruptive.
First you start by using a work weight for a full 8 reps which should basically be to failure. Obviously plus or minus a rep here is acceptable because muscle failure is the goal. The total rep range for the exercise is 8 to 15 and the plan is to only do 4 forced reps.
After the last rep you perform a one-quarter to one-half forced negative rep. That means your training partner pushes the bar in the negative direction while you resist. Then you stop at one-quarter to one-half and contract the muscle again tightly. This key concept helps increase the effectiveness of this technique by cinching the muscle fibers.
Now at this point you do four full forced negatives. That is each rep your partner helps you get the weight into position and then he or she pushes it towards through the negative range while you resist.
Because of the very high intensity of this technique you end up using only 2 work sets per exercise. Any more than that is going to be dangerous because your muscles will be spent.
Does it Work?
Scientifically this is an excellent concept that can be applied to almost any exercise. Oddly enough this concept, while being explained in a different manner is not completely new. The use of limited sets and forced negative reps is a concept that Mike Mentzer has utilized in his heavy duty training method back in the early 1980’s.
One of the issues some people had when his ideas came out was the difficulty in maintaining the high level of focus and effort required to do sets in this manner repeatedly. While he did not use a partial rep prior to doing the forced negatives, partial reps and drop sets were also techniques he incorporated often to maximize gains to muscle tissue size.
As this older concept has been repackaged and rebranded it certainly has become popular. Numerous people have reported great gains in muscle sizing using it. But of course people reported gains using these concepts back in the 70’s and 80’s as well. Because of it being successful across such a long timeline that certainly indicates that it will help gain more muscle size.