The goal is to drive the nail all the way in, flush with the board.  This is the desired level of inroad, fatigue, weight exposure and metabolic work…the “pop-up timer”.

Nail Gun:  This can drive the nail to the desired location with a single action.  As a result, you can accomplish a lot in a shorter span of time.  This is analogous to proper use of RenEx equipment, SuperSlow Systems equipment (in good condition), Retrofitted MedX and Nautilus (in good condition) and certain select pieces from other manufactures such as Cybex or Nautilus.  Properly done, one set gives you all that you need or can stand.  You can stimulate the entire body in short order.  There is little wasted work energy dissipated in the process.  BTW, timed static contraction probably falls in the category, many times requiring no equipment.

Hammer:  This is an elegant and effective tool for getting the job done.  You can drive the nail in with one strike (remember the Karate Kid?), but you also run a risk of bending the nail and subverting the end goal.  Unless you are very practiced, it is likely a better approach to take a more modulated run-up to the end goal, using more controlled and focused strikes until the head of the nail is quite close to the board and then you can finish it off with some hard strikes.  Most barbell movements fit the hammer analogy.  You could squat single set to failure and get a great HIT/BBS effect, but you also will dissipate some energy (ding the board) and are much more likely to bend the nail (lose form and tweak your back, for instance).  Instead I find these movements can still achieve the goal efficiently but through use of cluster sets or jreps.  In cluster reps instead of reaching failure in 12 continuous reps, you might set a goal of performing 5 very solid reps and then resting an interval (anything between 10 and 30 seconds) then repeat 5 reps focusing on perfect form and hard contractions, then rest and keep repeating 5 reps until you get to a cluster where you fail before completing 5 reps.  This basically gives you a running start at any complicating sticking points so that you accumulate adequate contraction and fatigue rather than premature failure due to not being able to overcome the sticking point.  Jreps would involve dividing the movement above and below the sticking point(s), using a weight where you can show perfect form and then working in the hardest zone, then the easier zone(s).  If there are safety issues, the hard zone can be worked close to failure and only the easy zones taken to failure.  John’s Max Pyramid is another variation of making multiple strikes with the hammer to reach the end goal.  With MP you select a very light weight to hold statically at the point of minimum leverage (mid range for most compound movements) for 20 seconds.  Then you jump the weight and repeat.  Do the increases until you cannot make the 20 second mark.  Then go back down the pyramid in the same fashion.  Your set is done when you reach a weight where you can hold for the full 20 seconds or you arrive at your ridiculously light starting weight.  The “hammer” approach applies to most barbell movements and machines that have strength curve issues, but still have acceptable levels of friction.

Rock: This is a really poor tool for the job.  You will have to be very cautious and measured to get the job done.  Even so, you will likely damage the hand holding the nail, have chunks of the tool fly off and when you finally get down to the board, you will likely ding the board as well.  If you are in a survival situation you may elect to use this tool, but most times you will just wait.  Examples include certain barbell movements done incongruently (see the writings and videos of Bill De Simone-enter Moment Arm Exercise at Youtube or your search engine) for examples of what to do and what not to do.  The most common examples however are poorly designed machines.  Unfortunately, this includes most modern manufactured equipment.  Poor biomechanics married with high friction and poor strength curves results in a “rock” that is not worth using.  These really require workarounds and many times will still leave you frustrated.  Think of almost every hotel gym you have been at.  Think of Curves.  Think of the health clubs or university gyms that replaced an entire line of MedX with the latest line of popular equipment.

My latest WOW’s

3/23: Lumbar Extension on SS Systems Pulldown, MedX Chest Press (horizontal handles), Nautilus Pullover with SS retrofits, MedX Chest Press (vertical handles with hand adduction throughout-squeeze handles together), MedX Compound Row with SS cam, SS Systems neck flexion/extension.  All done at UE-Nail Gun style

3/28:  Barbell Overhead Press (cluster 5′s), Dumbbell rear delt (jrep halves), Dumbbell lateral raise (jrep halves), EZ barbell curl (MAE), EZ lying triceps extension (MAE), EZ reverse curl (SSTF), Dumbbell Shrug, MAE forearms using same dumbbells from shrug.  This workout was representative of the “Hammer” approach.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.