Back in high school the only rep scheme I can remember ever doing was either with 10, 12, or 15 rep sets. Every once in a while we would max out or do sets of 5, but not too often.
Back then, I always thought that the more reps I got in, the stronger and bigger I would get.
The only issue was, I was lifting LIGHT weights with high reps.
I’m not sure why, but a lot of lifters think that if you lift with higher reps, you can’t get strong.
This can be true to an extent…
If all you do is constantly lift with higher reps within your sets like 10, 12, 15, even 20 reps, then YES, you will lose strength over time.
The key to building up more strength and getting yourself maximally strong is that you must train with reps of only 5 or below. When training with reps of 5 and below, you’ll be handling weights that will force your body to adapt by getting stronger. This is a pretty straight forward truth as just about any serious lifter out there should know that in order to get strong, you must lift HEAVY.
So, why do many lifters believe they should stay away from higher rep sets?
Well, it may be because they don’t understand how to use high rep training the correct way and below, I’m going to discuss how I implement higher reps sets into my training to not only build more strength, but to also build more muscle and muscular endurance as well.
The main way I implement high rep training into my programs is by blending it in with low rep, heavy weight, high intensity training.
The first thing I make sure to do is to always keep my heavy effort lifting into my programs. This is a MUST.
So sets with reps like 5, 4, 3, 2 , and 1’s are always within my program somewhere.
To look into this further, let’s look at how I implement high rep training in for the deadlift.
Before we get into that, check out a quick video of a recent training session I did with HIGH REP, Moderate weight on the deadlift (please excuse the music… 😉 )
Deadlift Workout 1 – Deadlifts 5 x 5 (HEAVY)
***Deadlift workouts will be spaced out every 6th day meaning, I will perform another deadlift workout 6 days later.
Workout 2 – 3 x 12 (Moderate Weight)
***When I say “moderate weight”, I mean a weight that’s challenging but not super heavy. Something you can handle with a good amount of speed.
Workout 3 – 6 x 4 (HEAVY)
Workout 4 – 3 x 15 (Moderate Weight)
Workout 5 – 8 x 3 (HEAVY)
Workout 6 – 4 x 12 (Moderate Weight)
Workout 7 – 5 x 5, 5, 3, 3, 1 (HEAVY / MAX Weight last set)
Workout 8 – 4 x 15 (Moderate Weight)
Now this type of set up has worked awesome for not only myself, but many of my clients. Strength continues to climb and overall endurance on deadlifts has also gone up. I’ve also used this method for squatting, overhead pressing, ect.
One of the main reason I’ve been following a set up like this is to help increase my max strength as well as my overall endurance. I’ll be competing in the Crossfit Open again this year so, I need to be ready anything meaning; i’ve got to be able to handle heavy and light loads for just about any type of rep or set scheme. The bonus to this type of set up is that it’s worked and the good news is, any major lift can be used with this type of set up to improve your results.
The concept behind why this works is the idea behind alternating between HEAVY and MODERATE lifting sessions.
When we lift with MODERATE weight for higher reps, you still get in good quality work plus add in more volume which helps with building up more muscle. This only works because we’re still including HEAVY lifting sessions into our program.
Other areas you can use moderate, high rep sets with this is with your accessory exercises. So, if we go back to our deadlift example from before, some good accessory exercises we may use would be RDL’s, good mornings, kettlebell swings, ect. It would be fine to hammer out reps of 10, 12, and 15 of these lifts to help “assist” our main movement, the deadlift. Again, the more volume we add in is okay as long as we’re alternating between the loads and reps we use.
But, switching between HEAVY lifting and MODERATE, high rep lifting also allows your body to get in a longer recovery period between the HEAVY training session.
A lot of lifters I talk with don’t give themselves enough rest in between heavy training sessions and this is why they don’t get any stronger.
The bottom line is this; STRENGTH is a SKILL and in order to get better at a skill, you must practice it over and over. This is where high rep training can help aid in building more overall strength when used right.
If you were to train HEAVY every week, you would eventually stall out just as if all you did was train with high reps each week. Doing the same thing over and over will cause burn out and eventual drops in progress.
There’s always got to be some sort of balance. This is just another way to add that in.
If you’re stalling out on your lifts and can’t seem to get any stronger, switch it up a bit and give this a try with your major lifts.
Post up your comments and thoughts about HIGH REP training below!
Live Aggressive and Get Strong(er)!