This week in exercise science.
All great achievements require time.
- Maya Angelou
- I don’t pin, but these smoothies look bomb.
- Balance your diet for racing.
- New menu labels are doing it right.
- BMI’s of champions.
- How to monitor fat percentages.
- Risks behind sports supplements.
- Opinion stew on eating healthy.
- The younger generation has a health problem.
- One min video on carbohydrates during exercise for optimal performance.
- New results from 14-year study on fast food.
- Gym bangaaaaaa
Have a great weekend!
Misconceptions about Powerlifting
People honestly think that if you lift heavy for a low amount of reps you can’t build muscle. People literally think that unless you are doing 8-12 you will be small and fat.
It blows my damn mind. In my experience, the person who is pushing more weight will be more muscular. End of story
This, plus the stronger you are the more weight you can rep for “hypertrophy specific” work.
Peculiar topic but let’s try and find a general, short answer to this…
Let’s start at the root of the problem. Generally in the training environment, you will see this guideline:
- 1-5 reps = Strength
- 6-12 reps = Hypertrophy
- +12 reps = Endurance
This is just an example since you can find PLENTY of these. The overall characteristic is the notion of trying to classify how different amounts of reps will have different effects. At first, this seems logical to do - especially for beginnings - but the truth is that nothing is that easy.
IT ALL DEPENDS ON YOUR GOALS AND CURRENT TRAINING EXPERIENCE - Generally, you aim for either hypertrophy or strength development. Of course, achieving both is possible and is often constantly in progress but the other is typically a secondary result from your training. So how does that affect your training type?
Strength training: Strength development is based on two factors, muscle size and neural adaption. An increase in muscle size often leads to a fast and significant increase in strength. This will not last for long, however, as muscle growth becomes harder to achieve over time due to physiological adaptions. The second way to gain strength is much more potent. This is based on neural activity between your nervous system and your muscle fibers. As you train, your nervous system becomes more experienced in handling the weight and the neural adaptions are developed. These are typically what you strive for as a competitive lifter. This means the neural adaptions are much more stronger and efficient when handling low, heavy reps.
Hypertrophy training: Hypertrophy is the concept of tearing your muscle fibers and causing microtrauma, which forces them to rebuild and become stronger (bigger). Microtrauma are small, “insignificant” tears where as actual muscle tears are serious injuries. Anyway, this trauma is often sought out by bodybuilders due to their training regimes. But this is where it gets messy because unlike strength training, there is no “perfect” rep range for hypertrophy. Finding out what grants the greatest muscle growth depends so much more on genetics than strength training. In fact, the best solution is to experiment with different training programs, rep ranges, and exhaustion techniques (drop sets, extended sets, triple sets, giant sets, time under tension, etc.).
So, the rep range you need to use relies on genetics, previous experience, training career, and goals. For strength training, the typical rep range is roughly 1-5 and plenty of sets (easily +10 sets per exercise). This is due to the neural adaptions being more apparent when training with heavy reps. It’s still possible to become stronger with higher reps but it will typically take longer.
For hypertrophy, the typical rep range is decided by the exercise (larger ones are often done with low reps) with isolation work often being done with +8 reps. This is often because the weight is low enough to do the exercise properly, with good form & technique, while being heavy enough to pose a challenge. Other factors deciding the rep range could be (but not limited to) the exhaustion method, rest time, and training program.
Which one should you choose then? Depends on the goal. Are you looking to become stronger? Work with the low rep ranges and do lots of heavy sets. Are you looking to become bigger? Experiment and find out what rep range works best for you. Don’t ignore low, heavy rep ranges as they help you build strength and handle higher weight. And if you design the program right, they will have the same hypertrophy potential as “normal” rep range sets!
I tried giving a short, general reponse but it’s a messy topic so I’ve missed a lot of dimensions and aspects. Hopefully, my point came across.