LESS REPS FOR MORE GAINS
Sometimes Less Is More
Often times in fitness classes it is about the go, go, go and the more, more, more.
100 burpee finisher? Great! Sprint uphill for 2 minutes? Awesome! Heart beating out of your chest? Let’s do it!
Now, I am not saying there isn’t a time, a place, and a purpose for such workouts-but I am saying that this is not the only way.
Modern day workout culture would have you believe that if you don’t leave your workout dripping sweat and having said “I’m dying!!” at least 3 times, then you really didn’t get a good workout, and definitely won’t be seeing any results from the work that you put in.
This is simply not true.
Whether they enjoy them or not, most women stick to these types of workouts because they think this will burn the most calories, and/or give them that lean, toned look most (not all!) women want. Let me tell you-this is NOT the only, nor the best way to achieve this goal (if it is indeed yours)
And beyond that, there is a way to get strong (not simply exhausted) by going about this in a far different manner.
If you’ve made your way to this blog list I am going to make the assumption you know that lifting weights is in fact a large part of how a female should be training. That no, there are no “male specific exercises” and that no, weight training will not make you big and bulky.
It is physiologically impossible to us as women to put on large amounts of muscle mass due to our natural hormonal makeup. It’s science! It’s chemistry!
I will also assume you are comfortable and open to the idea of training heavy, and in turn, lowering your reps.
Heavy is a relative term. It will be different for everyone. It is not important that you are loading up that barbell and moving big weights-what is important is that you are choosing weights that are heavy for YOU, that you can move with good form- recognizing that this will not stay the same over time. You will get stronger, and then you will have to lift heavier. So while I can’t tell you exactly how much weight you should be lifting, I can tell you that you will know when you’re there.
How many reps?
Even though a lot of women are getting behind the suggestion of weight training, and more and more so will even go heavy with their weights, I still see women in classes doing reps of 8-10, even if that is not what is called for. Telling me that they can't get past 105 on their squat and want to get stronger...but haven't tried cutting those reps in half and seeing what that does for them.
There is still some instilled fear that doing less reps "doesn't count" for is "just for guys."
5-6 reps. Give it a try!
This will not only get you truly stronger-teaching and training your body to pick up heavier loads like you might when you leave the gym and enter back into the real world, but it will stimulate the type of muscle tone that will make those muscles hard and defined.
Myogenic muscle tone-This is your muscle tone when you are at rest. The kind of muscle tone you see when you are standing in line at the bank and think “wow that lady has some nice arms.” This type of muscle tone is affected by the density of your muscles. The more dense your muscles are, the harder and firmer they will appear even while at rest. Heavy training increases your myogenic tone!
Neurogenic muscle tone-the tone that is expressed when movements or contractions occur. This is the muscle tone you see when someone is walking, stretching, or moving in any way.
Heavier, lower rep training will always come out on top to stimulate each one of these types of muscle tones, and of course-is extremely functional to your everyday life-far beyond the aesthetic. It will give you true strength.
So this is my Strong Body challenge for you this week! Take your reps down. Bump your weights up. Do you usually do sets of 10 for your single arm overhead press with 10lbs? Pick up some 20’s and do a set of 5. Write it all down in a notebook or in your phone so you don’t forget how strong you are, how far you’ve come, and what you need to do next time to continue to push yourself.
Learn something about your body and your strength. Learn that your aesthetic goals and your strength goals can be one in the same.
Put it to work
Here is a sample workout to give the above information a go.
-5-6 reps should be HARD. if you do 6 and you feel like you can do more? Stop. Count it as a warm up set, grab more weight, and then go again.
-REST. During your “working sets” These are the ones where your 5-6 reps feel difficult, rest for at least 90 seconds, and if you can bare it-2 minutes. Your body needs time to build up the energy again so you can lift that heavy weight!
-A Rep (repetition) is one complete motion of an exercise.
-A set is a group of consecutive repetitions.
-Complete A1 & A2 back to back (with rest). Complete all sets of A1 & A2 before moving on to B1 & B2. etc.
-Feel free to sub barbell for dumbbell or kettlebell
5 sets 5-6 reps
A1: Barbell Back-squat
A2: Dumbbell Chest Press-Neutral Grip (Palms face each other)
B2: Single Arm Bent Over Row
C1: Barbell Bench Press
C2: Hip Thrust