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
October 29, 2018
One thing that has certainly hit me this past week is how the number of reps you do really affects your mood and your body. When I worked out on Monday, it was the celebration of my sixth anniversary of becoming vegan, so I decided to go a little nuts. You see, people like to accuse vegan men of being week and have even concocted the hilariously inane cutdown “soy boy” the last couple years. Needless to say I went with six sets of just about everything and it was a master class of killing yourself with heavy weights. The part that hit me the most was the deadlifts, where I muscled out 18 total reps at 365. I was able to get the job done but it was absolutely brutal. It pretty much made the rest of the day a death march and I barely survived. When I got home I just collapsed and fell asleep. The next day I was doing more medium reps with medium weights, and I definitely felt blasted when I got home. Now it could have been the ill effects of the workout from the previous day but I still felt pretty tired and overwhelmed from this workout. This is going somewhere, I promise. Okay, so here I was on Thursday, tired as heck and wanting nothing to do with any heavy weights, I went light and focused on repetitions for the workout. I figured this would be more cardio based and would be helpful in the long run for me. Well, after an hour I was once again spent and went home defeated. Three different types of workouts, and this got me wondering….should we really become overly concerned with the reps if the weights are right?
Now, this debate is pretty much a one sided affair when it comes to the rep counts. If you are concerned with reps, then go with the medium rep counts with 60-75% with 8-12 on each movement. Most experts and trainers feel this is the best type of workout to utilize because it pushes your body and strengthens it in a much more intense manner. Low rep counts are recommended for pure strength, for you are pushing 90% or higher or even breaking your plateau in the process. It’s kind of hard to argue with the results on this because you have hundreds of Instagram account models to prove otherwise. The workout I had on Thursday had me longing for the old days when I first started working out. I just did a hundred reps of various workouts, including tricep cable pulls, kettle rows, overhead presses and even overhead squats. It was fun and it really pushed me hard. Sure, the weights were not necessarily high, but why would this be considered a bad thing? I got a good workout! Now perhaps one reason why the high rep count idea has been given a bad name is due to CrossFit, for you see half reps and other chicanery in the average CrossFit box.
Now, when you do a lot of reps with a light weight range, it can be a heck of a workout. When you are doing lawnmower rows with 45-pound weights and pumping out a hundred of them, that is gonna burn some calories and get your body moving. Obviously as you get stronger you can use some heavier weights to make this even more dynamic. https://www.muscleandfitness.com/flexonline/training/awesome-rewards-high-rep-training Now the weightlifting and fitness community has something of a blind eye to the benefit of high rep workouts. One thing that is really useful for this type of workout is how it useful it is for people who are new to working out of beginning their fitness journey. When you begin with journey, you might not have much an idea of what to do and also have little knowledge of actual fitness. So yes, doing a lot of reps can help. When you are early in the process, consistency and getting in to the groove of your fitness game is important. When I first started, I was weak as hell and didn't really have am idea what to do. While Jon was helping me out with all the tools in the box, I had to do a lot of work on my own time as well. So yes, there was early morning workouts where I did lawnmowers, overhead presses and curls. This extra work was extremely beneficial. Eventually this sort of working out was not really beneficial to me down the line, and this is for one reason…I stopped trying to improve. While the effort was still there, I was not using heavier weights and just wasn’t burning the calories. So while my mistake was evident, it doesn’t have to be that way for most people. Now, this is where the “but” comes in with this type of training.
While you can burn some calories and get your body moving, the big threat is the wear and tear to your body. For three weeks, we ran blogs about overuse injuries, and one thing high rep count workouts can do is work your body in ways you cannot expect. This is where you might run into the whole anti-CrossFit group. Here is the reason why this can be a problem. If you use 45-pound weights for your lawnmowers that is great. But eventually your body gets used to it and you have to go heavier to continue getting a beneficial caloric burn. Eventually you will start reaching unsafe levels. What happens when you start trying to do 100-pound lawnmowers for 100 reps or even more? Eventually it is going to be counterproductive and could lead to some injuries. I can deadlift 365 pounds for 18 reps and know I can hit over 400 hundred. But what if I tried doing 50 reps at 365? It could definitely lead to some injuries in my lower back, mainly due to the fact I usually do about 225 pounds when I have that many reps. Most recently I did 100 deadlifts in a previous workout, but I only did that madness at 155 pounds. I could have seriously destroyed my legs and lower back trying to do that the CrossFit way and do 100 at 365. And here is the other thing that will happen when you start doing high rep count workouts….you start losing your form. Nothing can wreck the body worse and cause some issues when you start contorting your body and utilizing poor control to get through the reps.
It really just comes down to this….should you ever do high rep count workouts? Well, that is kinda what High Intensity Interval Training and German Volume Training really utilize at the core. However, they still stay in the 12-20 range on the rep counts. So when doing a lot of reps you have to make sure the weight is challenging but also not challenging to the point where it can hurt you. Also, don’t necessarily make it a habit doing this type of workout. Improving in strength should be as important as burning calories.
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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.