T Nation

More On High Reps vs Low Reps

Hi people

Just been reading all about this all show no go discussion that seems to be the hot topic at the moment.

I train with low reps pretty much all the time,training programs like max-ot and like waterbury’s new program. My question is how come a % of bodybuilders and even WWE wrestlers (no flaming please) train with high reps all the time. Ive read training articles that wwe wrestlers such as john cena, HHH, Rock, goldberg, batista and randy orton and none of those big buggas trained heavy low rep sets,same with the local bb in my town,speaking to them its all supersets and light weight for 15 reps and above.Now i know STEROids will come up here but being a user in the past myself i responded way bettr to low reps while “on” sure that might work for me but with the great writers such as waterbury explaining the great benifits of low reps i just want to know if any of u guys grow like weeds on high reps for muliple sets?.
Hmm i may get flamed here but im just a curious sumbitch.
Peace
H

First of all let’s set it straight. Waterbury recommends DIFFERENT rep ranges for mass. He recommends 18 rep sets in some of his workouts. The reason CW likes the low-rep-high-set scheme is becaue it also builds great strength. And as we know Chad doesn’t like bodybuilding in the form of non-functional muscle.

Second. High reps done properly will build loads of muscle. And functional muscle too, if you do compound exercises with a decent weight, you can expect some serious size. So they might be training heavy seldomly and then use the newly found strength to do higher(10 and up) reps with a heavier weight.

Myself, personaly, I usually have heavy training with most of my cycles, but I also heavily incorporate medium and high reps. Wrestlers don’t really need strength that much(because they make money by pretend-fighting). Why do you think German Volume Training works? High reps can be used very effectively for mass, period. Part of high rep training succes is a tremendous increase capillar-density that supplies nutrients to the muscles. That’s a big deal in Chad’s Endurance for Hypertrophy program.

There’s no one perfect scheme in mass training because variety seems to work best. And are you going to get any variety with a narrow rep range?

Why would you be flamed? It’s a good question. Personally I think that the wrestlers you mention have already built their size in previous years and just try to keep what they have. They use low reps for it as these are less stressful to the joints and probably facilitate the recovery process from damage obtained between the ropes. As for the bodybuilders, same story probably. Either that or they really dig the gym scene. I guess there are two ways to build your body: One is to really push it hard and go home, rest a few days etc. The other is pump up your muscles everyday. Since these bodybuilders you talk about probably enjoy being in the gym very much they opt for the second approach. By pumping with light weights they can be in the gym everyday for 2 hours, something that’s impossible with heavier weights.

[quote]w2097 wrote:

Wrestlers don’t really need strength that much(because they make money by pretend-fighting).

Thanks for the reply’s.Regarding strength and wrestlers not needing strength,try telling that to brock leanar or john cena as they hold 470 pounds of the big show on their back and flip them to the canvas,i know u might say its all help form the other guy but thats a story for another day.

Im going to try with a high rep program,just to see what sort of gains i get.As much as i like having strength i want bulk much more,i sit at a desk all day so strength at the moment im putting on the back burner.
There is no harm in trying different things right :smiley:

Hehe the reason why i thought id get flamed is most people bag out the wwe and say all the time its fake and stuff like that ,hell i know its fake but it entertains me :slight_smile:

Thanks again
Peace
H

Hey HHH,

Those are good questions.
First off, those WWE dudes you mentioned have absolutely incredible genetics. Case in point: the biggest sumbitch I knew in college performed little more than db bench presses, curls and pulldowns for his upper body development, yet his physique was unbelievable. Why? Because he is samoan. Did I mention that he spent most of his nights drinking beer and smoking hashish? Well, let’s just say that he had a huge tattoo across his massive upper back that read, “Samoan.” He knew his physique was from his family tree, and he was right.
Second, I’ve met with Kurt Angle, and he told me that he usually performs nothing but high-rep, light-load training for one specific reason: because his joints ache every single morning from his wrestling matches. Therefore, heavy training is no longer a viable option. But you can be sure that he build his initial physique with such low-rep, heavy-load parameters.
What this all boils down to is genetics. I sure wish I had my college buddy’s genetics, or The Rock’s genetics, for that matter. But I don’t, and most of the T-Nation readers don’t either. Therefore, we must dig deep into the hypertrophy bag o’ tricks that I frequently write about.
Keep performiing those heavy, low-rep sets and you’ll soon become one of the elite!

HHH:

Excellent post!

I have trained a variety of ways and have found that I made my best growth gains, rep wise, in the 6 to 12 area. Not exactly low huh?

I found that when I train with lower reps I do gain more “one rep strength.” However, I never get any larger. There also seems to be a larger preponderance of injury in that rep area, at least for me. This does not stop me from performing various low rep routines throughout the year. I like variety and the feeling of gaining greater one rep strength.

As I have stated in prior posts, I think it has more to do with the individual than the program. Some people are simply built better for one type of training than the other.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
I think it has more to do with the individual than the program. Some people are simply built better for one type of training than the other.[/quote]

I agree with this. My reps are usually between 4 and 10 with 4 reps usually being my last set unless I am going light. That works great for me and I usually only train one body part a day (except for chest and triceps). Going higher in reps would mean using less weight and for me, that produces less muscle.

Great thread fellas. I think the body needs to be cycled, regardless of preferences. I think low-rep/high-load may initiate growth, but that will also take a physical and mental toll after a while. Some of the best gains I have ever seen are when I hybrid two schemes together (it has taken me years to learn what works best for my body, so I wouldn’t directly apply this advice).

This is a 4-week cycle:
week A
mon 5x5 heavy for pressing, pulling, and a leg (eg, DL).
wed 4x10 medium range for shoulders, arms, and leg auxiliary.
fri 5x5 heavy for pressing, pulling, and a leg (eg, DL).

week B
mon 4x10 medium for shoulders, arms, and leg auxiliary.
wed 5x5 heavy for pressing, pulling, and a leg (eg, DL).
fri 4x10 medium for shoulders, arms, and leg auxiliary.

Week C is like A, but flip-flop 4x10’s and 5x5’s. Week D is like B, but again flipping the sets/reps. Repeat for 2-3 cycles increasing weights each week.

It’s an oscillating scheme that I have found to allow me to “load-up” heavy, but work in medium weight to continue hypertrophy without the joint wear and tear. It boils down to two heavy weeks and two medium weeks of each body part. My shoulders and wrists thank me for this type of cycling.

Also, as far as the WWE is concerned, I totally agree that 95% of those guys are genetic freaks - not just by height, but with their muscularity. Many of them are as big as the Mr’ O contenders, but a foot taller!

But, on the contrary, most of these guys ARE elite athletes! Maybe not the NFL, but NFL Europe. It’s only fake from an ameteur wrestling point of view. From a physical perspective, there is nothing fake about the abuse that their bodies take. I’m not a big fan of the WWE, but when you have elite athletes “retire” to the WWE, “them rasslers ain’t no cub scouts!!!”

TopSirloin

[quote]Chad Waterbury wrote:
Hey HHH,

Those are good questions.
First off, those WWE dudes you mentioned have absolutely incredible genetics. Case in point: the biggest sumbitch I knew in college performed little more than db bench presses, curls and pulldowns for his upper body development, yet his physique was unbelievable. Why? Because he is samoan. Did I mention that he spent most of his nights drinking beer and smoking hashish? Well, let’s just say that he had a huge tattoo across his massive upper back that read, “Samoan.” He knew his physique was from his family tree, and he was right.
Second, I’ve met with Kurt Angle, and he told me that he usually performs nothing but high-rep, light-load training for one specific reason: because his joints ache every single morning from his wrestling matches. Therefore, heavy training is no longer a viable option. But you can be sure that he build his initial physique with such low-rep, heavy-load parameters.
What this all boils down to is genetics. I sure wish I had my college buddy’s genetics, or The Rock’s genetics, for that matter. But I don’t, and most of the T-Nation readers don’t either. Therefore, we must dig deep into the hypertrophy bag o’ tricks that I frequently write about.
Keep performiing those heavy, low-rep sets and you’ll soon become one of the elite! [/quote]

I would agree with this but will also add: The WWE wants the look that Batista and Orton have. It is hard to see how strong somebody is but you can see how big Batista is and that is what the fans want. Most people also associate how big you are (Batista) with great strength. That is why regardless of Batista’s lack of ability in the ring and his lack of ability to carry a match, the WWE continues to push him. Its all about looks.

In addition, I must state that both high and low rep ranges should be utilized for maximum hypertrophy. Merely focusing on one end of the rep spectrum will always lead to subpar hypertrophy results. That’s one of the reasons why my ABBH is so popular - it varies in rep ranges throughout the cycle. In fact, almost every program I write is based on rep ranges that swing high and low.
My advice: perform both sets of training rep ranges without neglecting the other end of the spectrum for any time longer than a week or two.

Chad:

What is your feeling about someone having a higher number of fast twitch (or slow twitch) fibers?

Could this be at least one reason why some of us do better than others on certain programs?

Would you recommend that a slow twitch fiber person train with higher reps most of the time, for example?

um…in response to the original post, most of the pro-wrestler interviews and workouts were found in M&F right? I’ll gangbust here, but I find that most of the articles in there fail concerning athletes tend to lean more towards hi rep light weight training. In fact most statements in the interviews read familiar. Am I implying that the magazine fabricates? I hope not, but whatever. When they did interviews with UFC fighters, the same thing arose as well. Okay that’s it.

I like to watch WWE from time to time, when there’s nothing else on or if my coworkers are watching. I particulary like the objectivication of women, I mean I like to watch the Divas. But does everyone think these current “hardbodies” came into pro-wrestling skinny boys? Many being former football players in college etc already have the training in areas of lo rep and hi rep. Then the medication use during collegiate years.

Gotta back Mr Waterbury up on genetics. Samoans are much malosi. Actually most of us Polynesians are much malosi/ikaika. But like anyone predisposed to be huge, powerful, or strong- it must be awakened and most times it doesn’t take much.

Professor X said:
Going higher in reps would mean using less weight and for me, that produces less muscle.
That’s a good point ! I’m 46, 5’8",
194 lbs. I began weightlifting at 34 and probably lost about 4 years with silly routines. I always use 1-8 reps and mostly 1-5. I did the first 4 weeks of TBT but honestly used 8 reps instead of 18, otherwise the load is too low !
Any comment is appreciated !
Thanks
Luca

Well the 18 rep sets aren’t meant to directly produce big muscles. What they do however is increase capillary density which not only make you a bit bigger, but also enhanse the nutrient delivery to the muscles, making your heavy workouts lead to more muscle mass. This is part of the reason Powerlifters don’t grow that big - they have very dense muscles and good CNS, but much fewer “feeding tubes” for these muscles. So their mass grows inside a predefined ‘bag’ of capillaries and doesn’t increase because of the narrow rep range.

I train with a 3-10 range for the most part myself. But I think there shouldn’t be any doubt that different rep ranges can help achieve mass goals regardless of genetics. Because even the skinniest bastard would be limiting his progress by working out in a monotone 1-5 rep-range.

[quote]w2097 wrote:
This is part of the reason Powerlifters don’t grow that big - they have very dense muscles and good CNS, but much fewer “feeding tubes” for these muscles. So their mass grows inside a predefined ‘bag’ of capillaries and doesn’t increase because of the narrow rep range.
[/quote]

Eh, not quite, even beyond the fact that many powerlifters carry a huge amount of LBM. I rarely ever go over 8 reps, but I’m significantly larger than any time I did “bodybuilding” training.

A variety of rep ranges are good, no doubt, but that’s not a way to rationalize 18 rep sets.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
Chad:

What is your feeling about someone having a higher number of fast twitch (or slow twitch) fibers?

Could this be at least one reason why some of us do better than others on certain programs?

Would you recommend that a slow twitch fiber person train with higher reps most of the time, for example?[/quote]

ZEB,

I don’t put much emphasis on a trainee’s proposed muscle fiber make-up since there’s really no way to accurately measure such characteristics. The ol’ fiber-type test of a 5RM followed by a set to failure is flawed, at best.

Here’s the bottom line to all of this: nerve controls muscle. If you train heavy, with low-reps, you’ll induce a muscle fiber-type characteristic change that leads to more fast-twitch fibers. This, in turn, will induce hypertrophy on someone who’s been training with high reps all his life. All of this occurs from the CNS control of muscle fiber types.

But the same is true with someone who trained heavy for most of his training life. Once he performs higher rep training, hypertrophy ensues since the CNS is no longer in a rep range that’s neurologically efficient. Ed Coan is a perfect example of this phenomenon.

In other words, train your weakest strength quality and hypertrophy will ensue.

Chubs 108

U guess that these wreslers workouts come from muscle and fiction.HOW DARE U BELIEVE I READ THAT FLUFF :frowning: .Only kiddin bro .I got most of these workouts from the wrestlers websites and wrestling magazines that i flick through down at the magazine store.
dwaynejohnsonfever.com
randyortononline.com
Just a couple of sites there if anybody is interested.dwayne johnson is THE ROCK if anyone was curious.
For the first time in about 5 years i gave high reps a shot for a whole body workout.My muscle induranc ewas shot to pieces,as soon as i would hit my second set i was already shaking and strength went down fast,fell 5 reps short of my first set.
But big chad hit’s the nail on the head when he says training both rep ranges will give u the best of both worlds and maximum hypertrophy.
Thanks for the reply’s again guys,its helped heaps.

Peace
HHH

Chad,

I’m not sure I understand… if you do higher reps you stimulate fibers that are stimulated by low reps anyways - type 1s and type 2as since their recruitement threshold is lower and the intensity is high -, so what does it change? Maybe the CNS is less effective in that range but what matters for hypertrophy is just that the fibers be stimulated to receive a TUT.

What’s more, you increase the TUT of the type 1s and type 2as, but at the same time you decrease the load very much. So how can you be sure that those fibers are more damaged in the end?

Thanks.

Chad:

Thanks for getting back to me! Your answer makes perfect sense.

Hi all i thought i would give an example of a system that ive always used!

Hypertrophy Phase

REPS: 8-20
SETS PER EXERCISE:3-4
REST BETWEEN SETS:60-90 seconds
NUMBER OF EXERCISES PER BODYPART:2-3
TIME UNDER TENSION PER SET:40-60 seconds
TOTAL SETS PER BODYPART:6-8

Strength Phase

REPS: 5-8
SETS PER EXERCISE:4-5
REST BETWEEN SETS:180-240 seconds
NUMBER OF EXERCISES PER BODYPART:1-2
TIME UNDER TENSION PER SET:30-40 seconds
TOTAL SETS PER BODYPART:8-10

Then i suggest you experiment with the right ratio of volume ans intensity that works for you. I also follow the 1-2 percent rule: you must be able to do another rep or add 1-2 percent to the bar everytime you repeat the workout.

If your not making this gain your either under recovering or waiting too long between workouts.