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The First Rep is The Hardest

I over heard someone spotting someone else, and they kept syaing this. Now the exercise they were spotting them on was the incline dumbbell bench press, of like a lot of people they only came down half way. In that case, the first rep would be the hardest.

But they said this was true on every exercise they do, also ones where you start with the negative (BB bench press). Common sense would indicate that the last rep should be the hardest, then he got all into some science of it and I tuned him out. Does this guy have any clue, or is he just talking outta his ass.

The first rep isnt the hardest. On dumbell bench the first rep is harder than the next few but after that the reps get harder than the first.

If he performed absolutely no warm-up prior to lifting the weight, (or if he’s just not motivated), then yes… it might “feel” like the hardest rep.

But you are correct, your potential to perform work is at its peak on the first rep for a given exercise (for that muscle group).

KCB

[quote]PF_88 wrote:
I over heard someone spotting someone else, and they kept syaing this. Now the exercise they were spotting them on was the incline dumbbell bench press, of like a lot of people they only came down half way. In that case, the first rep would be the hardest.

But they said this was true on every exercise they do, also ones where you start with the negative (BB bench press). Common sense would indicate that the last rep should be the hardest, then he got all into some science of it and I tuned him out. Does this guy have any clue, or is he just talking outta his ass.[/quote]

Think about it. On the first rep your muscles are not fatiqued, so the first rep is the easyest. The only way i can make sense out of that is if for the first rep you were going to try to max out. Then we can say the first and only rep was the hardest, but from a logical point of view that wouldn’t make sense. It implies that other reps were easier.

[quote]PF_88 wrote:
I over heard someone spotting someone else, and they kept syaing this. Now the exercise they were spotting them on was the incline dumbbell bench press, of like a lot of people they only came down half way. In that case, the first rep would be the hardest.

But they said this was true on every exercise they do, also ones where you start with the negative (BB bench press). Common sense would indicate that the last rep should be the hardest, then he got all into some science of it and I tuned him out. Does this guy have any clue, or is he just talking outta his ass.[/quote]

You are correct.

It’s true if you don’t lower the weight before the first rep, because there won’t be any stretch reflex. I notice this myself with dumbbell vs. barbell bench presses. With the dbs, the first rep always seems much harder than the reps that follow, until it starts getting harder again of course.

With a barbell, you start the movement with the exentric part, and so you have the stretch reflex to help you with the concentric part from the first rep.

I think part of it is mental. I have experienced this phenomenom where the first rep is the “hardest”, until of course later reps. If it is a heavy weight, there can be that moment of doubt whether one can lift it. Once past that first rep the moment of doubt is gone and the next few reps are actually easier. There is something about knowing you can push a certain weight that makes it easier to push that weight,

your first rep involves some “starting strength” since youre moving the dbs from a dead stop from your weakest position. Thats why people sometimes need help getting the dbs up initially. So the first rep is harder than the second one and maybe even the third (but not necessarily). Its a compromise betwene “freshness” of the mucle fibers and stretch reflex…unless you begin even the first rep with a negative.

I don’t really do singles, but I up the weight when I hit my target rep range. When I do up it, the first rep does seem to be the hardest, because I’m lifting more then I have before.

So, psychologically, it seems to make sense in some cases. However, it shouldn’t be true physiologically.

I do agree with the stretch reflex, and the fact that when one starts a DB press, elbows tend to be below parrallel (to the floor), the DBs are at a stand still, thus making the weakest part of the lift, the concentric portion, even harder.

I would add that there may be a neurological reason behind this. No matter how psychologically amped or ready you may feel, your neurons may not be. This is where an adequate warmup may be beneficial. For myself, especially on my first lift, I warm up in a particular fashion. If I was doing squat for example, and my goal was 10 reps with 2 plates my warm up would consist of something like this:

Bar-20 reps
95lbs - 10 reps
135 - 8 reps
185 - 6 reps
225 - 1 rep

I find the 1 rep, especially when doing a higher number of reps during my set, to benefit my lifting. My body comes to understand what 225 lbs feels like and gets accustomed to it both on a physioligical and psychological level.

I have a friend who does something quite different. As an example, if he was to squat 225 10 times, he may place 275 on the bar and do a couple of squats with it, then drop the weight down for his set.

To each their own I guess, just as long as it increases your performance.

hmm, these are some pretty interesting responses. While I don’t think this guy mentioned anything about the mental aspects of it (he may have I stopped listening) that does kinda make sense. With the dumbbells I can maybe understand a bit, but I go right back down to my shoulders on every rep.

If its dumbbell work, I wouldnt say the first rep is the HARDEST, but its definitely harder than the 2nd or 3rd, maybe even the fourth depending on the weight you are using.

It has to do with an elastic response your muscles have that you dont get on the first rep. Anyone who has done these exercises know the first rep is very hard sometimes, but then it gets easier, then hard again.

I experience what is he talking about. On the first rep of the first 1-2 sets of an exercise, it feels like I won’t be able to lift that weight. Once I get that 1st rep out it then feels easier, of course until/if I get to that failure point.

The first cut is the deepest?

Anyway, it just sounds like common ‘psyche-up’ motivational talk to help push you through a set.

-Nate

First rep the hardest? Do another 4 reps, and THEN tell me the first rep was the “hardest”. Still the hardest? Do another 10 reps.

For all you science nerds:

Though this is merely theory and not fact, there is an idea that Ca ions shuttled around to incite a muscle contraction are not moved completely away from the muscle filaments during reps after the first. This would make 2nd, and maybe 3rd reps feel slightly easier due to the abundance of Ca.

Way to much info I know…

[quote]FutureDoc wrote:
For all you science nerds:

Way to much info I know…[/quote]

I was thnking along the lines of action potentiation and neurological priming too.

A tip from a couple of the writers here, and a few s&c coaches that I know is to start a movement with a few sets of a few reps at about 50% 1rm, explosive speed.

That gets everything firing real good.

Oddly enough I always find my first rep of the deadlift harder than rep 2-5.

[quote]scotty144 wrote:
Oddly enough I always find my first rep of the deadlift harder than rep 2-5.[/quote]

Ur not bouncing the weight now are you? Try standing up between every rep and see if that still happens.