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Low Rep vs. High Rep Question


#1

In the 2nd week of a cutting (for lack of a better term) cycle and I have switched to doing high rep (15) sets instead of low rep (5-6) sets.

Using DB curls as an example:

Was doing 55lb for 5 sets of 5 reps...got good workouts and was pretty pumped after doing it.

Now doing 25lb for 3 sets of 15 reps and am having trouble getting the last few reps done.

Does this have something to do with fast/slow twitch muscle fibers? Was I just getting used to to low reps and heavier weights? Is it possible for a body to be more adaptable to lower reps than higher reps? Or am I just being a friggin' wuss?

I'm feeling this way on almost all my bodypart workouts now.

Just curious


#2

No your not being a wuss I am exactly the same way I hate and do not respond very well on anything higher than 6 reps. I dont exactly know why but my body responds very well and is built very much so for heavy lifting.

Just choose which you prefer the most because if you dont enjoy your lifting you wont stay motivated to make any gains.


#3

I know of girls doing 25 lbs for 15 reps, yeah you’re a wuss. :smiley:

I hate doing more than 10 reps on anything. Takes longer and the burning feeling sucks. Variety is good though, you should improve on your strength given time. I assume you’re a beginner?


#4

Not a beginner…I’m an old, still fairly out of shape, man!!

Well the DB curls are after 2 other bicep exercises so I’m a little weak at that point…was just using it as an example…but thanks for the wuss comment just the same…lol

And, I know of girls that can do that also…it’s the cramping of the muscle at that point that is killing me (not dehydration as I drink over 1 gallons of water a day)…have another couple weeks of it so I’ll just suck it up and see if it gets any better.


#5

No, your not a wuss. The fact you’re in the gym doing something puts you ahead of most people so give yourself some credit.

High reps hit the muscle fibers differently than low reps. The burn you feel on the high reps is the lactic acid build up. From what I’ve been reading lately, the 15 rep range is good for muscle separation/definition once a solid base has been achieved.

I’m doing a program right now where I’m using low reps on the big compound movement and higher reps on the secondary movement. For example, 5x5 flat BB bench and 3x15 on flat DB bench. I superset on the first, third and final set of the 5x5. So that may be a possible way for you to mix it up.

We were discussing cramping in another thread here this last week. Look for it here in the BB section. In short, you are very likely lacking in electrolytes. Water is fantastic, but you need to also replace the electrolytes your losing through perspiration. Two products; Ionic Fizz and Calm will/should stop the cramping. See that thread for the particulars.


#6

[quote]ProgMtl wrote:
Not a beginner…I’m an old, still fairly out of shape, man!!

Well the DB curls are after 2 other bicep exercises so I’m a little weak at that point…was just using it as an example…but thanks for the wuss comment just the same…lol

And, I know of girls that can do that also…it’s the cramping of the muscle at that point that is killing me (not dehydration as I drink over 1 gallons of water a day)…have another couple weeks of it so I’ll just suck it up and see if it gets any better.[/quote]

my fault man, I thought you said DB Bench press, must have mixed you up with another thread, lol.

that changes things quite a bit :smiley:


#7

I am not saying that the below is exact science or validated. It’s not. The fact that it uses math (really just arithmetic) does not mean that it comes to an exactly correct conclusion.

That said, I think it’s useful anyway:

When dropping weight to achieve more reps, if the result of this is that the product of the weight times the reps is now less than it was before, then you are going to too high a rep value for that exercise for you at this time.

The form and tempo must be essentially identical in the comparisons, by the way. The comparisons are best done in successive workouts with very similar previous work done, and most preferably at or near the beginning of the workout. But it can be acceptable to do it as first and second work sets with a good rest inbetween if experience has shown that you have little drop-off in performance between first and second sets under the conditions in question.

For example, suppose (for the sake of round numbers) you can use 100 lb in an exercise and get 5 reps. The product is 500.

Let’s say when you use 90 lb, you can get 6 reps. The product is 540. So 6 reps is not too high as examined by this method.

Let’s say all this remains true – the product keeps going up or doesn’t drop – down to say 75, where you can get 9 reps and the product is 675.

It turns out that to get 10 reps, you have to drop all the way to 65 lb. The product is 650. This being under 675 suggests that maybe 10 reps is getting too high for you for this exercise at this time, but on the other hand the value is pretty close and so certainly you might see if you can do better next week and either get 11 with the 65 lb (in which case even 11 reps is good) or get 70 for the 10 reps, in which case at least the 10 reps is good. Can’t make a conclusive decision with the numbers being as close as 675 vs 650 a single time.

Let’s say however that even 60 lb cannot yield 11 reps. You have to drop to 55 lb to get 11 reps, for a product of 605.

The conclusion at this point is not that you necessarily never go as high as 11 or more reps in this exercise, but that you are getting past your optimal training range – in my opinion – by this point. I would recommend doing the great bulk of training of this exercise at values less than or up to 10 reps, in this instance.

Just as a rule of thumb, not an exact science.

A different exercise for the same person could yield quite different results, as could the same exercise performed in a different manner, or a different person performing the same exercise.

A briefer way of communicating the principle involved is that when you have to drop quite a lot of percentage of weight to gain another rep, well, the reps are getting too high then.

A differing principle in the same subject area is to figure it based on 1RM. As personal opinion, less than 50% 1RM is generally getting outside the most effective training range, and for that matter the above-50-but-under-60 percent range seems kind of marginal to me.

If having a 1RM and where the 1RM is well-trained then I prefer the second principle to the first. But where for example the 1RM is not substantially higher than say the 3RM and quite a lot better than say the 5RM, or of course when it’s not known, then the first principle is the preferable of the two.