Nailing your reps and sets - here's why this is how you progress in your training
In this blog I want to educate you a little more on how to create a balanced workout and program.
In the last blog we focused on the four big movements: squat, hip hinge, press and pull. At 100Strong in Manly, we believe that repetitions and sets are just as important.
Because different reps and set schemes will produce different results. One single heavy squat repetition or 100 light squat repetitions are going to have different effects on your body.
So we need to break it down and to think about what would you like to achieve? Strength, hypertrophy (growing bigger muscles) or strength endurance (the ability to lift lighter weights for a long time)?
And to the peeps that just scoffed at hypertrophy I’ve got news for you…. Just about any booty workout you’ve ever tried is a hypertrophy workout for your glutes. Ab workouts? Same too.
Hypertrophy has its place but we rarely use it @100Strong. This is because our training is focused on both ends of the spectrum - pure strength on one end and strength endurance on the other.
The spectrum looks like this:
- Pure strength: 1-5 repetitions
- Hypertrophy: 8-12 repetitions
- Strength endurance: 20+ repetitions
The repetitions you complete will also have an effect on what your muscle looks like. And that’s exactly why you’re reading this aren’t you?
So let me spill the beans.
Although you wouldn’t expect this, lifting heavy weights for 5 reps and under doesn’t build the biggest muscles. It builds them denser and firmer. Cellulite begone!
Hypertrophy basically pumps the muscle up. Functionally, hypertrophy is fairly useless - it’s used mainly by bodybuilders to get swole.
Strength endurance is personally my fave, it’s good for creating smaller and denser muscles, cardiovascular health, fat burning and it helps harden your mind (I’ve chosen to refrain from the expletive, but you get my drift).
So let’s say you’re beginning to focus on your fitness and you want to focus on developing a lean and strong body. Your program would look something like this:
For strength spectrum:
- Weighted squats x 5
- Push ups x 5
- Pull ups x 5
Repeat 8 times
Since strength training should be done fresh it should be doing it as a mini circuit with a 60-90 second rest between each set.
Then you finish with something like this for strength endurance:
- 30 Kettlebell swings
- 30 walking lunges (holding light dumbbells)
- 20 medicine ball slams
Also your body likes small changes, not drastic ones.
This is my gripe with so many mainstream fitness methods (yep, I’m talking F45) - they change their workouts drastically from session to session which doesn’t give your body enough time to adapt to or get good at anything.
It would take a year of strength training for newbies to eventually lead to a plateau. This is because in your first year of training, this is where you will get the most gains.
You will always progress if you do the same exercises: but you need to also focus on how you manage your sets and reps. Once your 5 x 8 of the strength program above gets easier, focus on adding 2 more reps so you’re doing 7 reps. Then 9.
I also encourage doing the same foundational exercises, but changing your program every six weeks. For example, working on back squats for the first six weeks, front squats for the second six weeks, split squats for the third six weeks then back to back squats and restart over.
Focus on foundation exercises. Build progress with your sets and reps.
Not fancy. But effective.