# Difficulty Doing Low Reps

I have been training for about a month now. I started fairly light to break myself in and now I’m ready to go heavy. The problem is finding the right weight to do low reps with. I always seem to end up doing 12, 10, 8. I can’t imagine being able to lift something heavy enough to only be able to do six reps with.

Sometimes I can but either I start to lose my form or I can only complete four or five. This happens on most exercises from military press to curls. I do okay with legs though. Is it because I’m just not strong enough yet? I don’t have a training partner either which doesn’t help. Thanks.
Amanda

Fear is a big factor. It’s hard to move a bigger weight if you think there is a chance of getting crushed. Try using a power rack to do you bench pressing in. You can do military presses in a power rack as well. Don’t use it for curls.

Take the weight you do 8 reps with and add 5 lbs. See if you can do 6.

There are calculations you can do. For example following are percentage of 1RM for the different rep ranges.

Reps max weight
1 100
2 97
3 94
4 92
5 89
6 86
7 83
8 81
9 78
10 75

You can see that if your 1RM is under 100lbs for an given exercise, and you can only increase by 5lbs, you will have a problem being precise with the weight.

Stu

So if I add five lbs to my 8 rep weight is that the weight I should start with or should I do a lighter warm up set and then two sets at the heavier weight?
Thanks.
Amanda

What you could do is is pyramid to it.

Example :

For me with Dips.

Rep x 25-45

Then I’ll begin weighted dips

15 x 45lb

8-10 x 90lb

3-5 x 135lb

1-2 x 180lb

1/2 reps for negatives

x1
x1
x1
and continue til failure.

Or you could do something similar to westside.

8-10 per set til you cannot.

Then add incremental weight and do 3 and keep adding weight each set and doing 3.

When you can’t do 3 reps per weight increase (per set)

Switch to 1 for maybe 1-3 more sets.

This is more fatiguing and requires more muscle endurance and focus. But at the same time you’ll be warmed up and have flushed your muscles with blood.

If you can get comfortable with either, you’ll have a better feel and can switch to just 1-2 warmup sets of 10 and then have a better idea of what weights to jump up to 1-5 reps for heavier low rep sets.

Hope this input helps.

Actually I was looking at the dips and thats not as comfortable a pyramid.

Like Lunges just each set add on 2.5-5 or 5-10 lbs and climb upwards with the pyramiding sets. Once you hit the heaviest, then ratchet back down and do another set at like 1/4th -1/2 the max weight attained and do 10 and squeezeeeeeee.

** use the warmup set or sets to gauge how your muscle feels and get a better idea how much energy you are bringing to the table ~ then you can get a better idea of where to start. Where you go is up to you, enjoy!

I’m so glad you said this because it was exactly what I was thinking reading Amanda’s post.

Amanda, mind over matter. It’s really just a different rep range. Try easing into it. Use a weight you know you can do 6-8 reps with, but only do 4-6 or whatever range you are attacking. That should be the key. Attacking. There is a different mind set when lifting heavier. I personally need specific music to get me in the ‘mood.’ Yes I grunt. Yes I slap myself in the face. Yes I workout by myself

Anyway, take that weight and then add 5-10 lbs each workout. That’s what I do and its working pretty good. I’m using weight I’ve never lifted before. I try not to think about the weight I’m lifting. “Ah, its light. It’s only 5 more pounds than last time. Last time it moved easy.” That’s not a recorded conversation, but you get the idea.

[quote]AmandaSC wrote:
So if I add five lbs to my 8 rep weight is that the weight I should start with or should I do a lighter warm up set and then two sets at the heavier weight?
Thanks.
Amanda[/quote]

Yes, add 5 to your 8 rep and that now becomes your 4 or 6 rep weight. Obviously it will be easy the first couple of weeks. I ramp my warm-up sets. No more than 3 at each weight. Something like

3x135
3x185
1 or 2x205

Nothing taxing, but it gets me in the low rep mind set.

Thanks guys. I actually used to lift heavy but that was over ten years ago with an awesome trainer who used to push me until I felt physically sick. I agree that music helps, especially hard rock. If I could only get my new MP3 player to work : (
I’ll try your suggestions and let you know how it goes.
Amanda

I think its easy to find out where to start for sets of 6, especially if you do 12, 10, 8.

Take what you can do 8 times, with respect to being able to do 3 sets of it, as if you were doing 8x3.

Take that weight, do it 6 times, for 4 sets.

The volume should be the same, and you can decide from there, whether that was too light, close, or too heavy.

about the attacking I do that too
I listen to “angry music” and today I was finishing my reps and I was yelling at the bar to get up where it supposed to be

I was laughing and I think i said something like " get your *** a** up*** there you *** *** 8**** ***
phewwww

its all in your head really ease into it like whats was said

there are mp3s for 30 bucks

as for low reps, i personally find them by going to failure. most of my workouts im not able to do the 35, instead i do 15, 15, 13 or something like that

you just have to get your mindset to doing almost failure reps. especially when i squat (hardest exercise when it comes to failure IMO) i know that i go down, and then i have to come up im gonna end up at the sticking point and there ill be stuck maybe even for 5 seconds or more and slowly coming up, you just keep pushing (or pulling depending on the exercise) and dont stop. there are quite a few reps that i could have done that i didnt cause i THOUGHT i couldnt.

just dont increase the weight TOO much

I feel that 8 is one of the best rep range for a beginner… that’s pretty much what I did for months before trying lower rep ranges.

[quote]TheDudeAbides wrote:
Yes I grunt. Yes I slap myself in the face. Yes I workout by myself
[/quote]

So, is workout out by yourself through choice or did you just scare everyone else off?

If you think the low rep bit could be fear, get someone to spot you. Ideally someone you trust that can handle the weight you’re lifting, then you know if you can’t make it, there’s someone there to help (by the way, if you are being spotted, if the spotter even so much as touches the bar, the rep doesn’t count).

[quote]Roual wrote:
TheDudeAbides wrote:
Yes I grunt. Yes I slap myself in the face. Yes I workout by myself

So, is workout out by yourself through choice or did you just scare everyone else off?[/quote]
I’m a teacher and the only one that works out after school. I workout by choice. I enjoy the solitude. That allows me to listen what music I like as loud as I like. I can grunt if I feel like it. I’m not a monster if that’s what you’re implying. It must be working because I’ve made good progress the last six weeks. Yup, I am intense when I move weight.

Thanks for the spotting pointers.

[quote]TheDudeAbides wrote:
Roual wrote:
TheDudeAbides wrote:
Yes I grunt. Yes I slap myself in the face. Yes I workout by myself

So, is workout out by yourself through choice or did you just scare everyone else off?
I’m a teacher and the only one that works out after school. I workout by choice. I enjoy the solitude. That allows me to listen what music I like as loud as I like. I can grunt if I feel like it. I’m not a monster if that’s what you’re implying. It must be working because I’ve made good progress the last six weeks. Yup, I am intense when I move weight.

If you think the low rep bit could be fear, get someone to spot you. Ideally someone you trust that can handle the weight you’re lifting, then you know if you can’t make it, there’s someone there to help (by the way, if you are being spotted, if the spotter even so much as touches the bar, the rep doesn’t count).

Thanks for the spotting pointers.

[/quote]

Just realised I missed the smiley faces in my post. I did mean it in a good natured way, I wasn’t taking the piss. And the spotting thing in a direct quote (from Cosgrove I believe).

Seriously though, I keep looking at your log, and going by the weights, you have made great progress. Wish I could workout alone, no waiting for equipment, no odd looks when doing lunges and I could crank the music up to full without wondering if the guy standing next to me moving his mouth is actually trying to talk to me.

No worries man. I wasn’t taking it as a slam. To be honest I don’t workout alone … my 5 year old waits for me to finish “Dad can we go home now?” “Not yet, one more set.” Its always one more set.