High Reps, no REALLY high
- 04-19-2004, 11:13 PM
High Reps, no REALLY high
When people think mass, they tend to think low reps and HEAVY weights are the best and only way to get big. And....in many cases they are right. But what consitutes a low or a high rep, and can really high reps be effective? Here is a quick definition on rep ranges:
When people spend time doing low reps, like 1-4 reps, they are generally focusing on the strength component. Yes, some people build great size doing reps this low, but for most people the time under tension (TUT) is too low to significantly contribute to size gains. What? Don’t strength gains = size gains? Well, yes and no. Strength gains using a rep range that is high enough to keep the muscle loaded long enough to stimulate mass gains are what you are looking for, but when you are only putting the muscle under a load lasting from 3-15 seconds you are primarily training the neural system to become more efficient at “firing” the signal that tells your muscles to contract. These high loads also help stimulate ligament and tendon growth.
In bodybuilding circles low reps are generally thought of as 5-8 reps. This rep range works very well for strength, and size is also built as long as the reps aren’t done too “fast”. This means that the weight is controlled throughout the complete rep, i.e., it isn’t heaved up, and then allowed to drop during the descent. Like all things bodybuilding/weight training related, some people respond better than others to this rep range, some people build incredible size doing 6-8 reps, and for others, mostly strength is built. This has a lot to do with muscle fiber composition unique to the individual, but can also have a lot to do with how the individual rep is performed. More on this to follow….
Reps from 8-15 are what are traditionally done in bodybuilding to focus on size at the expense of strength. It is the range most often used by people doing “volume” training, and training for the pump. Because the time under tension is increased this range works very well to help accrue mass. As we will see in a minute any rep range other than very low reps can all be very effective at stimulating size goals dependent on how they are performed.
Most trainees do not do high reps that start at 15 and go up to 50 or even more. This is a shame because depending on how they are completed they can be absolutely the best way to go for some muscle groups, for some people. Legs especially respond well to higher reps, as do some people’s muscle groups that have primarily slow twitch fibers.
OK, with that quick definition, and the understanding that this isn't a full article, I will just state that if you have an upper body muscle that just wont budge in size even when strength goes up reasonably, or of it is an ABSOLUTELY WEAK bodypart. You might do well trying some high rep (as in 20-50) sets. Another tactic can be multiple as in 3-12 sets of 12-20 rep sets. This is with the understanding that unless you have great genetics, you can't do the 12 set, high rep thing for all bodyparts without asking for some overtraining trouble.
And it's just a given that the high rep thing is THE BOMB for lots of trainees leg work.
- 04-19-2004, 11:54 PM
Oddly enough I just started doing 3 sets of 21's for biceps last month, the lower volume for bi's just doesn't get me anywhere. I mean I was stuck at the same weight on cycle and off cycle for about a year. I'm going to stick to high volume for bi's for awhile, I'm loving the results so far. I've always done high volume for calves, I recently upped that even more (added more sets). Everything else is pretty much mid to low volume though and responds well
04-20-2004, 04:08 AM
that is some interesting stuff. i think i will try this on my shoulders because i just cant seem to catch them up with the rest of my upper body, and i really want a set of boulders. and biceps as well now that i read jweave's post. i haven't progressed in a while with the my biceps. thanks for the knowledge
04-20-2004, 05:48 AM
Same problem for me with biceps. I've been basically doing the same weight for about 4-5 years. They continue to get bigger but my strength never changes. Might have to give this a try.
04-20-2004, 10:16 AM
I always keep my reps between 4-8 for all exc. Everything does pretty well in relation to both size and strength. Like IA said, higher reps for my legs always seem to work better. That is, for squats and leg presses only for myself.
The only thing that goes against my protocol; alike everyone else here, is my biceps. Its really weird. I'll struggle for so long at a certain poundage, then I'll break through it for like 2 weeks. But then for some odd reason, I'll lose strength for the next two weeks, and then I'll have to start over again.
I only do 1 set for biceps and 1 set for forearms while off, and 2 and 2 while I'm on....Maybe I'll switch to higher reps for right now....
04-20-2004, 03:44 PM
Seem to have that gain/lose strength problem myself Jergo..especially noticable on bi's. I've always attributed it to some mysterious factor.
04-20-2004, 04:20 PM
The only thing I can link it to would be stress...other than that, yes its a mystery...Originally Posted by bioman
04-20-2004, 04:32 PM
Well, I tried that high rep bicep routine last night and it just might be what I've been missing. I'll keep track of it for a few weeks and see what kind of gains I get. Either way, I'll report some sorta results.
04-20-2004, 05:56 PM
I should add that what I do now is 3 sets of DB curls, 10 reps. Then later it's on to 3 sets of 21's. I only use 60 lbs for 21's and my arms are killed, I mean my biceps feel like they're going to explode
04-23-2004, 03:07 PM
Jweave, could you explain for me how 21's are performed? I've heard the term used before, but can't recall what it entails. Biceps for me have been very hard to get to grow, and I've tried different splits, rep ranges, etc. and still not seen much in the way of new growth. At this point I'm willing to try anything new to shock some new growth.
04-23-2004, 05:18 PM
21's are EZ bar curls done with 3 different ROM's. Start with a light weight, these will kill you.
1. Do 7 reps with only 1/2 of the ROM, so the top of your ROM is when your forearms are running parallel with the floor. Seems real easy at first.
2. Do 7 more reps, this time starting at half way each rep (forearms parallel to the floor) and curl it up the whole way.
3. Do 7 reps that are full range of motion, from usual starting position to usual ending position.
Tips: Do not stop at any point, keep curling for 21 straight reps. Think of it as slicing the range of motion in half: first you do 7 reps half way, then 7 reps of the other half, then 7 reps of the whole range.
I learned these from my football coach back in highschool, I don't see too many people doing them however. I used to do 1 set of them at the end of an arm workout back then. This time I figured I'd go hell volume and do 3 sets of them. You won't be able to move your arms to wash your hair in the shower, but I am loving the results and pump you get from it. I only use 60lbs for them, so go light and assess.
04-23-2004, 05:32 PM
Whoa, 21 rep sets then, that does sound frickin' killer! I'll likely give one set of these a shot at the end of my next back/bicep workout . This is one my higher carb days on my cutting diet, and as such small gains are possible on this day.
04-24-2004, 03:24 AM
My biceps just don't seem to respond favorably to heavy, low rep training either. I began throwing in some higher reps and have noticed a big difference. They actually bark the next day. I'm going to give the 21's a try for my next bicep day. Sounds like what I've been missing.
04-24-2004, 01:04 PM
Haven't tried those in awhile. Wouldn't it be more effective to do the full range first...going from the most difficult range of motion to least difficult???Originally Posted by jweave23
04-24-2004, 01:28 PM
As far as difficulty is concerned.....I suppose the question you're asking is somewhat akin to pyramiding up vs. pyramiding down on weights, which I think of as personal preference (even though there are of course arguments either way, as with everything in training). I would say if one is going to try 21's, then you certainly could try both and see what you like, I just happened to be shown the above way and like it.Originally Posted by socrates
04-29-2004, 09:16 PM
Whoa, I just tried 21's today and I gotta say I really enjoyed them alot. I performed 3 sets of them, with a descending weight with each set. I more or less lucked out and chose 3 weights which I was just barely able to complete the sets with.
I didn't have a massive pump afterwards, but I'm cutting right at the moment, and pumps are few and far between for the most part. I can't wait to try these out the next time I'm on a mass phase!
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