T Nation

Low-Rep - Health Side Effects?

I’m 16 and I work out 5 days a week; 2 upper days, 2 lower days, and one day for any exercise that I didn’t get a chance to do or just need to put more work into. For all the compound lifts I do:

8-rep warmup
10-rep set
6-rep set
3-rep set
Failure set
(All of this is done pyrmiding up in weight.)

My question is will this workout kill my joints? Alot of the posts here seem to suggest that it will.

I have been taking 1500mg of glucosamine as I heard it would offset the alleged degenerative properties of my workout. Is this true?

I know I’m young but I plan on turning lifting into a life activity and I don’t want to screw myself for later by doing stupid shit now.

~Pitbull11188

My joints, especially my crappy rotator cuff, have felt much better since I started doing a westside prgram involving low reps and heavy weights.

But I cant stress form enough…dont do the 8 second down bullshit, but slow enough to keep your form perfect. Skimp on form, and you’ll end up with what you dread.

Drop the failure set. That’s the one that’ll get your joints.

It’s been shown that any set below 8 reps causes degenerative changes in joints. But cutting out all sets under 8 reps is not the best answer.

What I do is a good warm up, then my low rep sets, say 5x5, then i drop the weight and do another set of 10-12. By now I’m so fatigued that it’s a real effort to complete more than 10 reps with solid form. This hopefully will keep my joints in good shape.

DEfinitly drop the failure set, you’re young and still growing. Failure sets will screw up your growth, or so I’ve heard (on this site.)

Also, weightlifting increases bone density which is good for you since you’re still growing.

The most important thing is that you keep perfect form.

Also, tell us your workout plan too… For all we know you could be doing squats, deads, lunges, GHR’s, leg extensions, seated and standing calf raises twice a week for your leg days. This would be overtraining.

List both leg days, upper body days, and your “anything else days”. And give us your diet too. If you want to make lifting a “life activity” you might as well start off lifting and eating correctly young and you’ll be way ahead of the game by the time you’re out of college.

[quote]rrjc5488 wrote:
Also, tell us your workout plan too… For all we know you could be doing squats, deads, lunges, GHR’s, leg extensions, seated and standing calf raises twice a week for your leg days. This would be overtraining.

List both leg days, upper body days, and your “anything else days”. And give us your diet too. If you want to make lifting a “life activity” you might as well start off lifting and eating correctly young and you’ll be way ahead of the game by the time you’re out of college.[/quote]

upper day is:

bench press - 8,10,6,3,fail
standing excurlbar curls - 8,8,8,8
skull crushers - 8,8,8,8
incline bench - 8,8,6,4
curl negatives - 30sec.,30sec.,30sec.
rows - 8,10,6,3

lower day is:

squats - 8,10,6,3
deadlifts - 8,10,6,3
good mornings - 8,8,8,8
military press - 8,8,6,6
lat raises - 8,8,8
shrugs - 8,8,8,8,8

w/e day is:

wrist curls 8,8,8
neck - back bridges
calf raises - 10,10,10
(calf raises are performed by holding the bar like I’m going to shrug)

[quote]Sxio wrote:
It’s been shown that any set below 8 reps causes degenerative changes in joints. But cutting out all sets under 8 reps is not the best answer.
[/quote]

This sounds like a load of BS to me. When and where was such a thing shown?

That looks like a lot of pushing and not a whole lot of pulling on the upper day. It also looks like your upper day is the same thing twice a week - correct?

I wouldn’t do it that way, and I agree with the others, the failure set isn’t the wisest.

Squats, deadlifts, goodmornings on the same day?

Military press and lat raises on the lower day?

I’d have a rethink, and maybe do something like:

Upper 1
Two compound push exercises.
Two compound pull exercises.

Lower 1
One or two compound lower exercises.
Core

Upper 2
Two different (from day 1) compound push exercises
Two different (from day 1) compound pull exercises

Lower 2
One or two compound lower exercises
Core

Speaking from personal experience, I’d also watch the amount of work the lower back has to do. That includes bent-over rows. I paid a price for battering my lower back too much for too long.

It was in a health and fitness e-zine that gets sent to me every month. I don’t still have the mag so can’t find the reference.

But if it sounds like BS, then don’t worry about it. Me personally, I add a set of 12 after a low rep set. Can’t hurt can it?

And to the original poster - that’s overtraining dude. Try to reduce your worksets to 12 or less. You’ll see the results instantly. Right now you’re doing something like 25 work sets. That’s too much volume for 95% of the population.

It hasn’t “been shown” that doing below 8 reps will damage your joints. That’s a completely unsubstantiated claim.

Sets to failure won’t stunt your growth - the amount of force it takes to actually cause an ephesial plate injury is mind boggling. Kids can lift maximal weights with good form and not get hurt according to a few dozen studies I’ve seen. It makes sense, since the force generated by jumping from a 6 foot surface (like a jungle gym) on the knee is about equal to a triple bodyweight squat for most kids, and they don’t stop growing because of that.

Sets to failure are pretty useless most of the time, though they should be used periodically for optimal hypertrophy.

I wish actual data rather than stuff pulled out of writer’s asses were more available to the public…

-Dan

[quote]Leafblighter wrote:
Sxio wrote:
It’s been shown that any set below 8 reps causes degenerative changes in joints. But cutting out all sets under 8 reps is not the best answer.

This sounds like a load of BS to me. When and where was such a thing shown?

[/quote]

Exactly what I thought. How can that be proven? Does it consider what exercise is performed? The level of intensity? Rest periods? Diet etc etc. I some how doubt that 8 is a somehow magic number and anything under that damages joints regardless of any other factors.

Make sure you do lots and lots of pulling, that will help ensure shoulder joint health.

Do all kinds of rep ranges. Don’t emphasize the failure sets, but don’t skip them altogether all the time.

My $.02

If you’re concerned about your joints, just do compound exercises, drop the extensions, curls, etc…

I would say just take a program from this site and follow that, probably something from Chad Waterbury. TBT would be my suggestion.

And, what the hell is a lat raise?

I’m not training to be pretty, its a nice side though, I’m training to become strong. I’m much less worried about hypertrophy than I am about the numbers I’m putting up. This was supposed to be a powerlifting program but apparently I didn’t do a great job putting it together.

Also, I’m not overly worried about my joints, I just don’t want to kill them by the time I’m 30.

Believe it or not, contrary to most people my age I actually neglected my biceps for a long time. I do skull crushers with 95lbs and curl 75lbs.

Can anyone help me or point me in the direction of materials to devise a powerlifting program? Suggest any pulling movements aside from deads, GMs, and romanian deads?

I’d like to build my biceps more because I look funny with big tris and near-nonexistant bis but again I’m more interested in functional strength than big muscles.

Edit: A lat raise is what my football coach called the exercise where you raise two dumbells horizontally and then “pour the milk” kind of like trying to fly. Sorry I’m not sure what it’s proper name is.

[quote]pitbull11188 wrote:
Can anyone help me or point me in the direction of materials to devise a powerlifting program? Suggest any pulling movements aside from deads, GMs, and romanian deads? [/quote]

Go to the Article Library (LH side of page). Scroll down until you get to the Author tab. Scroll down until you get to Dave Tate. (Authors listed by surname alphabetically, although first name is given first). Read all his articles.

You will then know all you need to know about designing a powerlifting program.

If this is too much reading, just start with DeFranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards.

Westside for skinny bastards by Joe deFranco. He sets it up for you, and after a few weeks, you can tweek it if you like. But its the best one I’ve been on so far. Check the archives bud.

I’d like to add my input regarding joint health and safety.

I think that rep ranges and loading schemes are debateable in their effects on joints, provided that good form is maintained at all times. In addition to maintaining good form, I have discovered a certain training protocol which is very useful in maintaining proper joint health. The protocol is this:

Structure all of your exercises into biomechanical planes of movement and train them correspondingly. For example: Flexion/Extension, Pressing/Pulling, Lateral Abduction/Adduction. Every single movement can be reversed by changing the direction of the tension, and thereby involving antagonist muscle groups. This is a significant expansion of the basic push/pull antagonist protocol. Here are a few corresponding movements to clarify the principle:

Overhand Triceps Pressdowns
w/
Overhand Reverse Curls

Bilateral Front Raises
w/
Bilateral Front Pulldowns
(arms straight out in front of the torso in both cases)

Horizontal Press
w/
Horizontal Row
(supine body rows)

This type of training is perfect for use with cables because of the ease with which the direction of tension can be reversed. The benefits stem from taking joints through their full planes of movement with opposing tension in each direction. This is very useful for rehab work as well as overall improvement of structural and postural stability. Most people only perform movements with tension in one direction (lateral raises, for instance - how many people do lateral “lowers”?) and this can create strength imbalances that contribute to poor posture and joint problems.

I think that training entire planes of movement with opposing tension is the most sensible training ideology that one could follow, from a biomechanical perspective. It should be utilized wherever it is practical. Generally speaking, that means you should use it on single-joint isolation movements.