Are Burnouts a Good Workout for Building Muscle?

Man doing bench presses

The muscles of the human body are commonly divided into 10 major groups, not including the hip, neck and forearm muscles, which are rarely trained in isolation. Burnouts, as a type of weightlifting strategy, help train the specific groups to exhaustion. They are generally an effective, useful way to build bigger and stronger muscles.


Burnouts are a combination of two other methods: pyramids and drop sets. Pyramids increase and then decrease weights over a series of sets. Drop sets are designed to work the muscles with lower weights after muscle failure has been achieved with higher ones. The idea is to use high weights, which build pure strength, and low weights, which further fatigue the muscles, to get a complete workout.


To perform a burnout, work up from the "base" -- higher reps with lower weights -- to the "peak" -- lower reps and higher weights--and then back down again. Some people start and end by lifting the bar itself, without any weights. The highest weight should be lifted at or near your one rep max, with 10 to 20 seconds of rest in between each lift. The low weights after exhaustion has been achieved are just as important and should not be neglected. Burnouts work best when used infrequently.


Burnouts are designed to target one or more of the specified muscle groups, depending upon the exercise performed. For example, the bench press utilizes the burnout exercise to target the triceps in the upper arms, the trapezius in the back, the pectorals in the chest and a few other muscle groups. Burnouts can also be performed with the curls, squats and dead lifts, among many others.


Burnouts, because of their ability to work the body to exhaustion, can be utilized both aerobically and anaerobically. And by utilizing the drop set strategy, they can also increase your body's ability to produce growth hormones during workouts. Growth hormones stimulate growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans. This increases the rate of protein and muscle mass synthesis.


Another type of exercise also known as a burnout targets the upper calves. It's plyometric exercise, designed to improve the speed and power of your muscles through rapid, repeated contractions. To engage your calf muscles, stand on your tip-toes, feet shoulder width apart, and jump half an inch to an inch vertically. Jump again immediately after landing, while maintaining balance on the tip of your toes. Soon you should feel your muscles burn, hence the name. The burnout builds explosive strength in the muscles and helps with leaping ability. It should be performed with special shoes, preferably basketball shoes.