As far as the larger debate goes, I don’t think my point applies only to rank beginners. It applies to anyone with a “weak” squat.
Since we’re talking about a tall guy with skinny legs, let’s assume a guy who is over 6 feet tall, weighs 190 lbs and squats his BW for 1 rep. I.e., not a complete beginner, but weak in the squat. He can squat 190x1, 155x5, and half his max, 95 lbs, for a set of 20.
On Monday he goes into the gym and squats 95x20. Then what? How many days later does he come back, how much weight does he add, what does he do?
Has anyone here ever seen someone go from weak in the squat to strong in the squat using only sets of 20? How long would it take to go from 95 x 20 to 225 x 20 using only sets of 20? Would it be maintainable as linear progress? I don’t know - I’m asking.
It may be possible, but I haven’t seen it. What I have seen is guys put hundreds of lbs on their squat in just a few weeks, using multiple heavy sets multiple times per week. I don’t have any proof, but I strongly believe that I could get this hypothetical lifter to a 225x20 squat FASTER by using mostly lower reps – e.g. 3x5, 3 times per week – than by just using sets of 20. I actually don’t think it would be close, at all. (Because I have done sets of 20, multiple times per week, and what happens is you start a little lighter than an actual 20RM, you add weight for a few weeks as you adapt to the specific stimulus, your 20RM increases for a while, and then you stall.)
As much as people on these forums may hate the terms “strength rep range” and “hypertrophy rep range”, and I understand the critiques of those terms, there IS some reason behind them. They aren’t just completely made up fantasy words. The “strength” rep range – heavier weights as a % of 1RM – tend to elicit a better strength adaptation, in general.
As far as hypertophy goes, there isn’t some magical effect when you hit 20 reps. The primary factors are going to be volume and intensity. Doing 3x5, 3 times per week equals 45 reps between 80-85% of 1 RM per week. Even if you can get more total reps doing sets of 20 – though really, I’d ask how many sets of 20 squats you’d have someone weak in the squat do, per week, and how it would affect recovery – they are MUCH lighter, and therefore in my opinion not necessarily more effective at generating hypertrophy, ESPECIALLY for a weak lifter who is not very efficient at recruiting strength for a max effort.
That is why I recommended using 5s at first to build strength – high frequency, high intensity, low per-session volume but still high weekly volume. Then when progress slows switch to a combination of heavier high-intensity workouts and lower intensity higher-volume workouts. For example Day 1 Squat 4x6, Day 2 Squat 20RM. Or check out the 5/3/1 “Building the Monolith” template for a great 3-day week squat protocol that includes low and high reps with fluctuating total volume.
Pertaining to strength… You are not going to grow faster just because the load increases faster from neural adaptations. This is something I’ve been watching people, usually smaller guys lifting much more than they look like they can, realize everyday in the gym.
In contrast, someone already big but lifting lighter weights can easily peak and outlift them.
Does this make sense?[/quote]
To be clear, I’m not disputing anything else other than the part about needing to train for “strength” first, which goes back to the idea of “building a base of strength”, which is nonsense when applied in the context of currently held beliefs in the fitness world.
For an example, see the post from the guy on the previous page who’s under the belief that he needs to squat 405lbs before using higher reps.
And with the OP in mind, I’ll tell you all this. If you have smaller bones/ joints, have pre-existing injuries and/or are older in age, and you just want to build a better body, forcing strength adaptations can lead to lifelong injuries due to gradual wear and tear. Then you’ll join the old big guys in the smith machine squatting with limited range of motion with high reps because they want to avoid hip replacement surgery and lament among each other, “fuck I wish I’d done this when I was young instead of doing dumb ego shit for no reason.”
The last paragraph does not apply to people involved in strength sports or in pursuit of numbers for self-fulfillment, of course. Just make sure the payoff equals the sacrifice if that’s the case.