I posted this in another thread, but I feel that it is one of the most important thing I ever said. I don’t want anybody to miss it.
There IS a best way to train (by that I mean exercise selection, load, volume, etc.) but it still all starts with the rep.
Think about it: The rep is the beginning of everything. Each set is merely a series of several repetition performed one after the other. The set itself is not what is causing growth - the individual reps are! The set is merely a way to arrange several growth-producing events that happen to be called repetitions.
I don’t care how advanced you think you are and how good you think your repetitions are, the fact is that the vast majority of you can improve their repetition style. And if you improve on that, then growth will occur at a drastically greater rate.
Not all of you totally mess up the reps; some are probably doing a good job at producing decent repetitions. But that is not enough; well, not enough if you want to grow as fast as the human body will allow you to!
You all have (except for a few exceptions) some room to improve upon the execution of your reps. And the more room for improvement you have, the more progress you should be able to make in the near future.
Those who will refuse to work on their execution (oftentimes because of their ego) will simply never be able to gain optimally from any program, regardless how cutting edge it is supposed to be.
Never assume that you are too strong, too big or too advanced to work on execution. NFL players still work on their basic skills even though they are the best in the world, Olympic lifters work on making every single lift as perfect as possible even after winning gold medals, world-class sprinters still work on basic footing drills despite the fact that they obviously know how to run ! And the list goes on and on.
The fact is that every single repetition is actually four things :
An activation: Each repetition potentiate (wakes up) the nervous system and help make the motor pattern more automatic. Because of that, each repetition contributes to making the next one even better (until fatigue compensate and prevents optimal performance). Look at somebody doing a power clean or a power snatch, during a set of 2-5 reps that second rep is always better than the first one, simply because of neural activation.
A stimulation: Every single repetition represents an opportunity to stimulate growth. It does so by causing some micro-trauma to the muscle, by pulling nutrients into the muscle (a process called non-insulin mediated transport) and by stimulating the release of several growth-producing hormones as well as by increasing the sensitivity of their respective receptors.
A regulation: Regulation means that you are adapting your workout depending on how your body is reacting to the training taking place. The execution of a rep, how it feels, etc. Is the first clue informing you about the working state of your body on that day. It also tells you when to stop a set to avoid overstimulating the nervous system.
An athletic event: Every single repetition should be seen as an athletic event in itself; you should strive to make every single repetition perfect, just like a baseball pitcher attempts the perfect pitch every time he throws a ball. It boggles my mind that people think that ‘those last two reps’ are all that counts when trying to build muscle; it’s exactly like if you were to say that only the last 2 or 3 pitches of a game are important! It’s just plain dumb. If you want to maximize growth, you should milk every single rep for all its worth.