Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
September 24, 2018
There is a lot of things that go on at work, and for the most part, much of what happens is quite startling. We got people playing with legos, people making random quilts and of course people scarfing down tons of salty snacks. Fortunately I actually adhere to the rules and thus scarf down far too much of the cheap coffee (or some brown liquid posing as coffee) and keep my mind focused on the job. I mean my job is so bizarre we actually had a theft problem when spinners were all the rage (aww, remember that craze?) And then you have these two that sit near me who recently started “working out.” I put the word in parentheses because they are doing everything with a 15-pound weight, which in regards to the guy (and not so much for the woman) is pretty much useless. They tried spreading out their entire day with various reps, like squats, overhead tricep pulls and of course curls. But it got me thinking about the age old problem that typically is spoken about in just about every fitness forum you can think of….is doing a lot of reps with light weights worth it?
Now this is pretty much how Crossfit came to be, mainly because you have people trying to do a ton of reps with weights, but the difference is they are going full throttle with weights they may be too much for the amount of reps they are partaking in. Like me trying to do 100 reps with a 400-pound dead lift. It is a dumb and dangerous idea and I will attempt it this Thursday. Okay, maybe I will not but I can certainly try to some day, and maybe do it at a weight that is a little more comfortable like 225 pounds, which is closer to my 50% max. I did something similar to this not too long ago and I will give a nice little opinion about it a little later. Anyway, there is a constant push-pull with this argument and you will hear the benefits and arguments spoken loudly. Doing tons of reps will help with your cardio but not make you bigger or stronger. Going heavy with fewer reps will help you lift more and plateau bust when you hit a certain weight. Both sides have their well meaning arguments, but how do you decide which way to go when you have so much visual and scientific evidence to go on. I mean, Crossfitters do reps to infinity and most of them look healthy (or at least the ones on TV and Youtube). And then you have the guys that focus on short bursts of heavy lifting, utilizing 80-85 percent of their max on the weights and then tackling a new max every couple weeks to keep the weight going up. These guys have some cuts and ridges and look aesthetic as well. Both methods use a ton of energy and both can leave you pretty tired. But is one better than the other?
When you look around the internet, you will see a lot of arguments for a “moderate” amount of reps. https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/rep-range-builds-most-muscle/What this basically means is throwing around some weights with 8-12 reps. The benefits of this method are pretty clear according to the article. You first of all get a good balance of your “pump” which brings the admirers, and you also stretch you muscle fiber out much more. Now we all understand the importance of doing your stretching routine, for this engages you muscle and allows you to gain better elasticity. This is the reason why when you start your squat routine, your depth is trash and thus you need some good warm-ups sets to get the body working properly. So back to the people at work. While they may not have been using a weight that would even remotely benefit them, they were at least engaging their body….which is something I have to really start doing more. Either way, working out and getting your body into motion deeply requires a lot of elasticity. So doing work in the medium range provides a good mixture of muscle elasticity and strength building. This article provides a really good primer into why your muscle becomes more elastic and usable as you go about this. https://www.sportsrec.com/509834-the-physiology-of-stretching-muscles.html
Now working in the medium rep range is certainly a buzzkill and kind of a fence sitting solution to the modern workout methodology, but it is certainly not the end all. While you can get strong using 60 to 70 percent of your max on an 8-12 rep basis, is it really bad to go in the other directions? Now let me tell you some of my own personal experience with some recent events. Now typically I go with medium weights and often times work in the 5-10 range. While these types of workout are great, they seem to benefit me more from a maintenance standpoint than anything. Now I will state this idea is not bad, but you have to challenge yourself with ALL forms of the weightlifting methodology. Some of the toughest workouts I have ever had is when I go 80-90 percent of my max and try to do the workouts in small windows of time. Typically I do sets of three, and up until recently Jon has been having me do some ladders with the sets, doing three sets of five, three sets of three and then three singles. Anyway, this really gets the blood pumping and knock me out for a longer period of time in between the reps. So sure, maybe the caloric burn is slightly different and I am looking at a pure strength build, its not like this is all that bad. I still get a good assessment of my strength and capability.
Now her is my argument for the low weight-high rep count workout regimen. Last week at Barbell Club at Parsons Training East, two of the basic workouts was to do 90 back squats and then do 100 chest presses. Now this is definitely a lot in regards to this two workouts, so you have to come up with some workable weights that will not kill you. I did 155 for the back squat and then used 45-pound weights for the chest press. By the time I hit 60 or so in both workouts, I was dying. One thing that a lot of reps does is force you to be mentally stronger. Your mind starts playing tricks on you and the once easy to lift weights feel heavier due to your body being tired and your energy low. And what was even worse….I was so dead and sore the next day I had to do a workout just to get a little more pepp in my step. To tell you the truth, that workout knocked me down for two days and I was not really using heavy weights.
So in that respect, you might be best to mix all of these ideas up. Concentrate on your regular lifts and then pull out a crazy day where you go heavy or light. Could be worth a try. Either way, I can definitely tell you it was a major benefit for me.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
Meet the Author
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
Steve shares his journey once a week here on our blog. We hope that you find a spark of inspiration from reading his blog.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.