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High reps Vs Low reps

I’ve been in the fitness industry a long time now and I see a lot of people training. The difference in what people do and what people believe is effective, is quite varied.

Generally I see women training with lighter weights, not because they are inherently weaker than men, but because they want to tone up and not bulk up….pause for sigh.

I also see a lot of people training lighter weights doing their sets super fast with very little rest, as they are trying to burn fat.

You then see some people heaving massive weights poorly in the vain attempt to get bigger.

So what should we do to get the best out of our muscles?

Firstly, lets dispel some myths:-

Heavy weights will not make you women massive. So girls, please do try to lift something worth lifting, you’ll really see the benefits.

Lighter weights lifted faster will not speed up fat loss, it will have the same effect as doing CV work. It will burn calories be it from fat, glycogen stores (muscle sugar) or will burn muscle tissue. You need heavy stimulus to maintain muscle mass in a calorie deficit.

Lifting heavy weights badly will just get you injured quickly.

OK. Now that’s cleared up, lets look at rep ranges. Muscles respond to stimulation. Muscular changes will happen when subjected to stress. The type of stress we apply will denote the type of change we encourage…what the hell does that mean in real words?

It means, if you train for a marathon I.e. lots of repetitions at low intensity, your muscles will adapt best to suit that environment by increasing efficiency and blood flow. If you lift really heavily, only a few times, you will get stronger but not necessarily bigger by improving your nerves. By lifting somewhere in between around 65-85% of your 1 rep max you will hit the point for hypertrophy, i.e get bigger.

The main goal, in my opinion, is to find a failure point. Your muscles must be pushed, they will adapt to whatever rep ranges you’re working with. So if it is strength, then look to fail at 3-5 reps, if it is muscle size it is failure at 6-12 reps etc.

Just to throw another spanner in the works, your muscles are made of a ratio of fast and slow twitch fibers fibers. This means some of your muscle are designed for endurance and some for power. It’s genetics that determines the ratio, but you have a little wiggle room to change this through training. The slow twitch muscles respond more to higher rep stimulus and the fast twitch respond to heavier weights.

Therefore, training in just one rep range might be selling your growth potential short. I would recommend training in a variety of rep ranges to illicit the best and fullest response from your muscles.

Also, as a side note, my best recommendation for fat loss is to train hard and heavy, then, compliment your weights with CV for best body composition. I’d recommend ladies to lift heavily aswell. You will find the benefits are over and above anything else you’ve tried before.

I hope this was of interest. If you would like more information or just a great place to train, come and visit me at Fat Al’s Gym.

Keep on liftin’

Ali ‘Fat Al’ Stewart

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