T Nation

Working Hard Enough?

I dunno, it’s wierd. I feel like if I am not doing 3-5 Hard reps then I am getting no success, an example being.

I was working chest the other day on the bench press. Note I am a weakling. I started my warm-ups with 20 both side, did 5 reps fairly easy. Added 5, did another 5 reps fairly easy. Added 5, did 5 reps. Added 5, struggled with 5 reps, really, my back began to arch on the fifth rep and it was a very sloooow rep up.

Then I added 5 to go for my max of 120 which I have been able to do for about 2 reps. Now I am going from struggling to get 5, to I can only do 2 reps, is this normal?!

I bet I could do 3 reps with 120, but I would need a spotter to help me up on the 3rd rep, because my 2nd rep I is also verrrrry slooooow and I am fighting every last centimeter on the way up. Any suggestions…?

It just feels like the two reps isn’t enough to really cause me to grow the muscle I so want to have.

The muscle you oh so want to have will come, if you keep stuffing your face and lifting. If it’s hard for you to complete a rep, I don’t understand how you feel you’re not doing enough work???

Again, pal, you’re thinking too much. I don’t know what else to say in response to this? Anyone else?

What stands out immediately is the fact that you’re doing 4 warm up sets to get to 120#. I’m not knocking your strength levels because we were all beginners once, but you’re wearing yourself out on warmup sets! Try doing 2 warmup sets, say, 85#x5,105#x5 and then going to 120#x5. I’m betting you’ll get at least 5 reps, possibly more.

Alright sounds awesome, thanks.

So since I maxed with 1 rep with 130 last time at the gym, should I go for…

90x5
110x5
130x ?

Something like that? Or should I still shoot for like 3-5 reps with 120 even though I know I can lift 130…just I can’t lift 2 reps (I remember last time I went, the one rep was I remember like normal-difficulty but I KNEW if I let it go back down, it wasn’t coming back up)

Stay with the 120# until you can get 6-8 good reps. Then go to 125# for as many reps as possible, NOT 130. Maxing out only tests your 1 rep max. It does not build muscle and only overtaxes your joints and recovery.

[quote]TornadoTommy wrote:
Stay with the 120# until you can get 6-8 good reps. Then go to 125# for as many reps as possible, NOT 130. Maxing out only tests your 1 rep max. It does not build muscle and only overtaxes your joints and recovery.[/quote]

Gotta Call BS on the part about going for heavy singles not building muscle etc. BUT I do agree at his stage in the game he is best served sticking to getting 6-even 10 reps and build various strenght qualities. Get strong all the heck over.

Save the singles doubles etc for a few years or just rarely to test progress

[quote]Phill wrote:
TornadoTommy wrote:
Stay with the 120# until you can get 6-8 good reps. Then go to 125# for as many reps as possible, NOT 130. Maxing out only tests your 1 rep max. It does not build muscle and only overtaxes your joints and recovery.

Gotta Call BS on the part about going for heavy singles not building muscle etc. BUT I do agree at his stage in the game he is best served sticking to getting 6-even 10 reps and build various strenght qualities. Get strong all the heck over.

Save the singles doubles etc for a few years or just rarely to test progress

[/quote]
Gotta call BS on the part of 1 rep maxes building muscle. Where did you get that from? The only thing 1 rep maxes will do is give this kid shoulder problems.

[quote]TornadoTommy wrote:
Phill wrote:
TornadoTommy wrote:
Stay with the 120# until you can get 6-8 good reps. Then go to 125# for as many reps as possible, NOT 130. Maxing out only tests your 1 rep max. It does not build muscle and only overtaxes your joints and recovery.

Gotta Call BS on the part about going for heavy singles not building muscle etc. BUT I do agree at his stage in the game he is best served sticking to getting 6-even 10 reps and build various strenght qualities. Get strong all the heck over.

Save the singles doubles etc for a few years or just rarely to test progress

Gotta call BS on the part of 1 rep maxes building muscle. Where did you get that from? The only thing 1 rep maxes will do is give this kid shoulder problems. [/quote]

Anytime you lift something heavier than your muscles are used to is a good thing, as long as it isn’t much more than they can handle and even if it’s just once. Do you think your body will not tear down it’s muscle just because you are testing your 1RM with a single rep?

As I understand it, doing a 1RM – or in general, reps fewer than 6 or so – will create strength by primarily stimulating the CNS to handle the heavy load. It will also create some hypertrophy because it does involve tearing down the muscle, but the biggest improvement is strength because it involves a limited number of reps due to the heavy load.

Isn’t that why strength methods that focus on low rep work (<6 reps) for a major movement also use other subsequent exercises with higher reps (6-15 reps)? Those other exercises help stimulate more hypertrophy than the low rep exercises would by themselves.

So you get the best of both worlds, an increase in strength and and increase in hypertophy, both of which make it easier to improve the other over time.

This is what I’ve gleaned from reading about the subject. Am I way off in thinking this?

[quote]Defender wrote:
As I understand it, doing a 1RM – or in general, reps fewer than 6 or so – will create strength by primarily stimulating the CNS to handle the heavy load. It will also create some hypertrophy because it does involve tearing down the muscle, but the biggest improvement is strength because it involves a limited number of reps due to the heavy load.

Isn’t that why strength methods that focus on low rep work (<6 reps) for a major movement also use other subsequent exercises with higher reps (6-15 reps)? Those other exercises help stimulate more hypertrophy than the low rep exercises would by themselves.

So you get the best of both worlds, an increase in strength and and increase in hypertophy, both of which make it easier to improve the other over time.

This is what I’ve gleaned from reading about the subject. Am I way off in thinking this?[/quote]

No. You’re pretty much on spot. Most of Waturbury’s programs are loosly based on this.

[quote]Defender wrote:
This is what I’ve gleaned from reading about the subject. Am I way off in thinking this?[/quote]

No, you are just about right on.

The thing that is way off is that this kid is a raw noob, and should be working in the upper range of reps per set/ per session.

friedrice- You have to build the structure before you build the strength.

Work on high volume for a good long time(like a year) and test for max once a month. You should have plenty of potential for gains from that without having to use one to three rep protcols for gaining.

If you want to do yourself a humongus favor, get a copy of Ian Kings “Get Buffed”. That book will keep you busy making progress for at least a couple of years, and you will learn a shitload about strength and conditioning.

It will teach you how to plan a series of progressive cycles to accomplish a goal.

[quote]TornadoTommy wrote:
Phill wrote:
TornadoTommy wrote:
Stay with the 120# until you can get 6-8 good reps. Then go to 125# for as many reps as possible, NOT 130. Maxing out only tests your 1 rep max. It does not build muscle and only overtaxes your joints and recovery.

Gotta Call BS on the part about going for heavy singles not building muscle etc. BUT I do agree at his stage in the game he is best served sticking to getting 6-even 10 reps and build various strenght qualities. Get strong all the heck over.

Save the singles doubles etc for a few years or just rarely to test progress

Gotta call BS on the part of 1 rep maxes building muscle. Where did you get that from? The only thing 1 rep maxes will do is give this kid shoulder problems. [/quote]

Where do I get that lifting heavy, singles, double, triples build muscle. Well from years under the bar and its been stated by many an author. As training age goes up the intensity of the lifts that activate/stimulate muscle growth goes up and volume goes down. Equating to the best range to be lifting for strength and size for an advance trainee being the 1-5 rep range. Of course you have to eat for it.

You will note that I did agree however that for this individual at his stage training age that yes he is best served to stick to higher reps.I even stated he is best to hold off the 1-3 reps range a few years.

Though I do know for me this afternoon. going to the gymn and working up to a 1 rep max is going to give me plenty of stimulus to progress in strength and size.

Cheers,
Phill

I suppose I better add the reason that lower reps ranges work for the more advanced trainee is that they are more effecient in recruiting there muscle fibers. They can activate more on a single rep. where as the younger trainee is like a V8 running on 4 cylinders it takes a lot more reps/strokes to get where they are going to tap into and tax all the fibers needed to stimulate growth.

So they use reps. As the fibers/tissue gets taxed then other fibers tissues take over. But by lifting progressively heavier as the trainee goes on in experience they to become more effecient at activating there fibers and need less reps and will fry there selves by doing to much volume easier due to using so many of the fibers at one time.

Folks, I never said heavy doubles and triples have no value. I’ve done a LOT of this type of training. What I’m saying is that maxing out on benchpress every chest day will eventually injure ANYONE. This is a classic newbie mistake.

After training (and competing) for 30 years, I’ve learned that some training protocols only lead to injury and fatigue. From my experience, it’s hard to progress while recuperating from an injury.

I am seeing a lot of leaps of faith here. Low reps will build muscle, IF you are able to perform a like amount of reps with more weight. High reps will build strength, IF you do higher reps in the future with the same weight.

What is missing in his approach is quality of reps. Taking a set to a brave level of effort is commendable, but taxing yourself with 1 set of six when 2 quality sets of 3 reps could be done is less wise choice. We know nothing of his form. We know that his output dropped by his description.

Is he rowing for an equal amount? Is he getting enough nutrition to support growth? There are way too many holes here.

I havent and still dont think we disagreee at all. I think it was just a matter of taking in the whole context of statements. I think were on the same page.

[quote]TornadoTommy wrote:
Folks, I never said heavy doubles and triples have no value. I’ve done a LOT of this type of training. What I’m saying is that maxing out on benchpress every chest day will eventually injure ANYONE. This is a classic newbie mistake.

After training (and competing) for 30 years, I’ve learned that some training protocols only lead to injury and fatigue. From my experience, it’s hard to progress while recuperating from an injury. [/quote]

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
I am seeing a lot of leaps of faith here. Low reps will build muscle, IF you are able to perform a like amount of reps with more weight. High reps will build strength, IF you do higher reps in the future with the same weight.

What is missing in his approach is quality of reps. Taking a set to a brave level of effort is commendable, but taxing yourself with 1 set of six when 2 quality sets of 3 reps could be done is less wise choice. We know nothing of his form. We know that his output dropped by his description.

Is he rowing for an equal amount? Is he getting enough nutrition to support growth? There are way too many holes here.[/quote]

No arguement here and yes High reps even for the advance lifter can be very helpfull at times. Then also the other variables you state. its just very hard to assess online. The more info the OP gives the better of course.

I think we do have a very good lil discussion going on though.

Hey, this is a good discussion perhaps, but I’m just going to reiterate that beginners need to stick to higher rep ranges for quite a while.

And, I’ll step out on a limb while I’m at it.

Instead of going for maxes, as a beginner, why not have a spotter around and see how many reps you can get. If you get more than 12 without the spotters help, you can up the weight next workout. If you get less than 8, lower the weight.

Being an absolute beginner, you may also not be very good at knowing whether or not you really can make that next rep or not… and you could be capable of more than you think!

[quote]vroom wrote:
Being an absolute beginner, you may also not be very good at knowing whether or not you really can make that next rep or not… and you could be capable of more than you think![/quote]

Exactly. We’re only limited by our own willingness to try.

I have learned something here, why the lower spectrum of reps work ! Thank you T-Nation !

But yeah, I do 5x5 style lifting. Trust me, if you can’t get 5, you’re working hard enough with big enough weights. Keep with 120 until you can hit 5 reps and THEN up the weight by another 5.