T Nation

EC's Cool Tip


Higher Reps for Newbs:

Beginners lack the connective tissue strength necessary to handle maximal weights. Beginners should be encouraged to train at eight reps and above as a means of improving connective tissue strength to prepare the joints for subsequent high force and velocity movements. Following 6-8 weeks of introductory loading in the 8-15 rep range, novice trainees can begin to look to heavier loading.

Figured this would be as good a forum to post this in as any. I agree with this tip. Out of curiosity (I haven't myself had a layoff beyond a planned active recovery week for sometime) do you guys think this is a good idea after a layoff as well? How long a layoff?


Here's another study from Arizona State that deals with this:

"Those who have been lifting for less than a year should use 12-15 reps to be completed per set. Beginners make considerable strength gains by adaptions that occur within the nervouse system. Lifting weights teaches the nervous system how to fire signals to the muscles faster and more effeciently so that the right muscle fibers are optimally recruited during a lift. Using more repetitions allows the nervous system to get more practice, as it must work to control each and every rep."

Not sure that I agree with the entire first year part, but I think it would be good for a time for beginners.


Good question. I'd like to know as well. It would seem that muscle memory would come into play a bit here, but I don't know about any CNS memory.


Today's training tip comes from Christian Thibaudeau:

Back in the Saddle

When returning to strength training after an injury or long layoff, loads of 60% are sufficient for the first 3-4 weeks. Keep the reps relatively high (12-15) and the eccentric tempo (lowering) slow, around 5-6 seconds.


Cool. I agree. So are there any programs like this on T-Nation to refer beginners to so that it's easier for them? I always refer beginners to Vroom's thread or suggest ABBH, but truthfully, for the untrained I agree with CT and Eric. I had my sister, who hadn't really lifted since college, doing full-body, HIT workouts for the first two weeks. I wanted to teach her what failure was so she could learn what it felt like and how to push herself and learn to stop near it in the future. After the first 2 weeks, I moved her to training to near-failure and added a 2nd circuit-all exercises with slow (4-second) ecentrics. Soon, she'll be moving to heavy loads and more sets and moving to an ABBH-like split. I think this is a better approach for those who have never lifted or haven't for a long time than suggesting one of the T-Nation programs I've seen from the getgo. Of course, I and others could always just explain what to do, but it's easier for beginners if they have a structured program laid out that they can follow. Any beginner T-Nation programs like this?


Here's something I thought about. If a beginners gains are mostly due to neuromuscular adaptation, shouldn't beginners routines be 10 sets of 3 with something they can do 3 sets of 10 with. Couple that with short rest intervals 1-2 minutes, that seems like that would teach them faster than 3 sets of 10 when fatigue would alter technique.



Hmmm. Maybe, but they would probably still be too limited by connected tissue strength to handle maximal weights. I also don't really think it's easier to intially learn form with weights heavy enough for 3 rep sets. From may begin to falter toward the end of high rep set, but they'd had a chance to get a feel for the motion and learn appropriate form on the eariler reps. Which may not happen if starting right away with heavy weights and the high force, high velocity movements necessary to lift them.


Good thought. However I don't think this method would recruit enough MU's to elicit much neuromuscular adaptations. The load is light enough where the fast MU's won't be immediately recruited, and with so few reps in a set, there won't be enough fatigue among the slow MU's to recruit them later in the set as occurs in the last few reps during the repetition method. But you did mention a short rest period, combine that with a little bit heavier load (say an 8RM), and probably drop the number of sets to 8, and it looks good.


Good thought, but the other poster was right about 3 reps with a 10rm being a little too low - 5 or six sets of 5 with a, say, estimated 8RM would be spot on.