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 Photo credit: InShapeNews, 2017 – Reps Matter:

Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer

The most effective way to change a workout other than changing exercises is by changing the reps. Different repetitions performed with the same exercise can achieve a completely different outcome.

In simple terms the lower the reps the higher the intensity of the exercise, meaning the greater the risk, so the choice of exercise is very important. There are many other factors that can be affected so let’s briefly talk about the differences and what they achieve so you use the right method for you.

Low reps (1-5 repetitions): The lower repetitions focus on more of an increase in strength benefit, this occurs when the mass of the load put on the client is at their limits. This type of rep range forces huge neural connections to be made and creates more motor units to be created in order to lift the extreme load. By far the most effective way of improving maximal strength and power, however, not a good intensity to start giving someone when they aren’t confident with the exercise, have poor technique, or poor stiffness/stabilisation through the movement. Exercise choice must be very simple due to the risk of injury due to the high loads and intensity the joints will be exposed to.

High reps (12-15+): The higher repetitions meaning a low intensity is good to use if you are new to the exercise as the lower load enables you to learn correct technique, stabilisation & muscle activation without the risk and massive neural activity. This rep range also has the added benefit of improving muscular endurance & posture on a given movement and is commonly used in rehabilitation programs for this reason. However, fewer motor units are recruited within this repetition range; therefore, strength won’t improve as effectively, and also fewer muscles working at once. Also if the client is performing a lot of reps with poor technique, it will cause poor movement skills and possibly injury so you need to have great awareness when working in this range. Complex exercises are great to use here.

Moderate (6-12): This is the most common area people work and is known as hypertrophy. This range has been shown to increase muscle size better than the other two rep range as it hits the muscle fibres with enough tension and load to force muscle growth. As the intensity is not too high there is a minimal neural recruitment allowing for more time to complete the exercise. Use of advanced methods like supersets and drop sets work really well here.

I like to mix my training using all three rep ranges. Far too many people never change their workout and always complete their training with the same reps, sets and tempo and wonder why they never change. By mixing up your reps you keep the body guessing and allow a greater chance of improvement.

Important rules to follow are:

  1. The lower the reps the more simple the exercise must be.
  2. Complete no more than 25-28 sets per workout.
  3. The hardest or most complex exercise should be first.
  4. All abdominal and posture related exercises should be last.
  5. Change the program every 4-6 weeks. For heavy programs every 3 weeks.
  6. Never sacrifice technique to get more done.
  7. Try to include as many functional movements as possible.
  8. Beware of overloading complex exercises like deadlifts and woodchops with high rep.s

In summary, changing reps is essential if you want great results. You just need to be certain on what your goal of the workout is so you can choose the right exercise and rep range for your goal.

Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called NO Regrets Personal Training.

Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.

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Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

One thought on “LOW REPS VS HIGH REPS”

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