T Nation

One Way To Do More Reps

When I used to do a lot of singles on bench presses, I was able to knock off 225 20 times for reps at a bodyweight of 188lbs. I never trained the bench press for endurance and did not really need to. Part of it had to do with the fact that after training with 350+ for singles, 225 felt like nothing. Same with the dips and chin-ups.

Now, I doubt that someone who train the bench press for sets of 20-25 will improve their one rep max and I will tell you why. For one, you never get used to handling heavy weights. If you train with 225 all the time and then try to lift 350, it is going to feel like a ton, but not the other way around. Your central nervous system never comes into play and also you do not have to respect the weight when doing high reps. You really only have to concentrate on the last few reps(Unless, you are doing the Super Squats 20 rep program in which every rep is hell).

Let me give you an analogy, If I am a professional fighter, beating up inferior fighters will not prepare me for superior fighters. However, beating superior fighters will make the mediocre ones feel like nothing.

An example of test driving this idea is to do weighted pushups. If your goal is to do a lot of pushups, try doing pushups with a 50lb sandbag on your back. Once you can do 10-15 easily, try doing bodyweight pushups and watch your numbers fly up.

Will this work for everyone, I have no idea. Regardless, it definitely works for me. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

Mike Mahler

This is such a coincidence that Mike is mentioning this method. Cuz, I think this is exactly what Ko and I are doing with our deads. Last week, I finally performed a 280 lb dead, and yesterday lifted two good reps with that weight. NOW, 245lbs is like “nothing”. And we’re doing the same thing with our benches. I’m sick and tired of being “stuck” with a 150lb bench. So, now I’m just pushing it (weight-wise),for one rep. And after two chest workouts, I can actually say it’s working.

I agree as well. I am doing Grease the Groove with weights in a back pack to up my pull ups and push ups. It’s blowing me away how much I’m improving.

What Patricia said. I started pushing the weights up every session. I pulled a 355 dead last week with difficulty. This week I tried it again after pulling 365, and it was easy. I tried 315, and was able to bang out 5 reps with little effort, and could probably 10 rep it.

You can also accomplish the same feat without accumulating any fatigue by simply holding a supramaximal load in a locked out position for a few seconds prior to the repetition set.

Nice work everyone! Patricia and Ko keep up the great work.

Bud Jeffries usually does nothing but singles in his training, but was going to squat 700x20 ‘very soon’ last time I checked his website. I guess training for high-rep stuff isn’t always best done with high reps.

training for maximum power will ultimately make your muscle recruitment better as well as making your tendons and ligaments stronger and you will be able to do more weight in any rep range. Please do not tell me this is a new concept to you guys that are non newbies to t-mag. I don’t know i just found this a little bit of a surprise post. normally i would just skip along but something just compelled me to write since I saw a few responses from t-mag veterans. Now one thing that i might add is that uneless you switch up training technique as well as watching out for certain muscle imbalances then you might stall out. Just because something works now, does not mean that it will work forever. But you probably already know that. :slight_smile: laters pk

I agree totally; going heavy is the best way get strong. The only issue is that repeated maximal efforts can, over time, be detrimental to progress by overtraining the CNS. If you structure your overall plan of training and rest appropriately, though, you’ll definitely get pretty strong.

You kids may also want to consider the isometric workout in the paper copy of T-mag (issue 2, ah my first T-mag). Have not tried it myself but intend to do so at some point. Take care. Lata.

MBE: “Making forum life that much more circus-like since 1981. JADABB founder, 2002.”


I try and go up every session, even if its only by 5 or 10 pounds, and even if its only for a few reps. After going up 20 pounds or so for a 1rm, I can then get my previous 1rm for reps. Is this something new or special? I mean, I thought that’s how it was “supposed” to be done…

Well, there is an expression that increasing limit strength “raises the roof” for other types of strength, although at a certain point you get diminishing returns. Anyway, I noticed the same thing with DL’s and cleans. I worked up to 415x5 on DL’s last week. Now clean weights that used to be heavy are warmup weights for me.

being a former powerlifter, I agree with you so much, it’s like i’ve written the post myself (exept for the fightin’ stuff)… increase the weight to increase the reps. not the other way around…

I recently read an article that I found interesting. It said, “low reps don’t build strength, they demonstrate strength.” The author contends that it takes sets of 8-10 reps to help build strength in order to lift heavier weights. His reasoning is that it takes 3-4 reps to warm-up the body, another 3-4 reps to start working the muscles and another 3-4 reps to actually work hard and exhaust the muscles. I read the article a few times, and I understood what the author was saying. When I first started working out (10 years ago), I worked out with 135lbs on the bench for sets of 10-12. Eventually I worked up in weight so I could do more weight for the same amount of reps. I didn’t practice lifting heavier weights for low reps. But I did manage to lift 205-225 for a single when I wanted to test my max. So it made me think, maybe it does take higher reps to help build the strength needed to make low-rep attempts at heavier weights. I mean, haven’t most of us lifted in the 8-10 rep range in order to get stronger? His other reasoning is that this helps build muscle mass as well as strength and this equates to lifting heavier weights in the end. So I’m just wondering what others think. Remember the statement: low reps don’t build strength, they demonstrate strength. Thoughts?

Jack, it does seem pretty “duh”, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t think this way. For example, most people assume that in order to do more pushups they have to do lots and lots of pushups. If you think about it, it’s like people lifting heavy singles all the time to increase their 1RM, or doing nothing but speed work to get faster.

This CNS “trick” has been mentioned in an article in T-Mag. Sorry, can’t remember which issue.

I am definitely not trying to take credit for the benefits of singles. Just something that I remembered again after talking to a friend and I wanted to share it with the forum. Thanks for the clarification.

I have always believed that I lift 10-12 reps to increase size, and 4-5 heavy reps to increase strength. Isn’t this a common belief?

I find that my strength goes down if I do not push the big weights on a regular basis. This is how I make the best gains (using deadlifts as an example): warmup-135 1 set/10 rep, 225 1 set/10 rep(I sometimes skip this one), 315 5rep /1 set 365 1rep /2set (depending on how I feel, i may drop the weight 5-10 lbs for the second set. I try to push the weights up 5-10 lbs every week. I followed the similiar routine for squats and bench, and had good results also. When and if I hit the wall, I think I will switch to 5x5 to solidify the gains, and then start again.


Great post and let me address it. In Dinosaur Training, Brooks Kubick has an entire chapter on the benefits of singles for buidling strength and size. It is a great book and I recommend it highly to everyone. Also, I believe that singles do build size if you do enought of them and have proven this in the past. When I got my bench press up to 365, I rarely did more than singles for several months. Now I do agree that novice lifters should not start off with singles and that 8-10 is better for building a solid foundation and strong tendons. However, if you have never done singles or low reps before, you are going to be in for a pleasant surprise. The way to do singles for mass, is to use a weight that you can max 3 times and do 10-15 singles, with slow negatives, and short breaks. Start off with 90 second breaks and work your way down to 20 second breaks. Once you can do that, increase the weight by 10lbs. Do this for 3-4 weeks and I bet that you will pack on some size. I have been doing this recently with 2 kettlebell military presses and a friend commented the other day that my shoulders look much bigger. Magic? Of course not. Just a different stimulus then what I have been used to. Thus, to summarize, my point is to gain sixe with singles, up the volume and decrease the rest between sets. If you take 3-5 minute breaks like powerlifters do then you will not put on as much size.