Low Reps for Muscles?

Can you build muscle on low reps, say 1-3?
 
^^ A question that a lot of people would like to hear a resounding YES for, however while the answer is indeed a yes, it’s not as easy as you may think, let’s look at why.
 
Strength, skill & speed, that’s what most low rep training is for.
 
Typically lower reps are also used for building limit strength and neurological facilitation/connection, this is due to the often high % of relative 1RM meaning that the excessive amounts of volume required to achieve hypertrophy would cripple a mere mortal.
 
Lower reps are also very good at grooving a movement or practicing a skill as you will be forced to reset and perform more first reps, while also amassing less mechanical fatigue.
 
Keeping this in mind, how could you use lower reps to help you build muscle then?
 
There are several ways but these are some of the easiest to apply:
 
– Target Sets
– Super Sets with a ladder format or single rep choice
– Cluster Sets
 
All three can be ran for 3-6 weeks. Here is how they are applied.
 
Target Sets –
 
These are similar in nature to a rest-pause style of training where you will do say 3 reps and then rest briefly to get your oomph back before doing another three and another until you’ve hit your target amount of reps, say 25-50 with 75%+ of your max.
 
Super Sets w/Ladder Format
 
You have an A1/A2 pairing, do 1 rep of each, then two, then three, then back to one and repeat until you can no longer get to three reps.
 
OR
 
You have an A1/A2 pairing, then do 1 rep and keep alternating the exercise until you’ve hit your rep target. This also works well with 2 or 3 reps.
 
Cluster Sets –
 
Let’s say you’re working for a set of 12 reps on a single exercise, you do three then rest 15 seconds, repeat 4 times, the rest before your next set. That’s the format.
 
If you were looking to program a cycle of this training your workouts might look like this:
 
Weeks 1-6 – Target Sets 70-80% 1RM loading
 
A1 – Main Lift 3-8×1 working towards a heavy daily single
B1 – Main Lift at % for 50 rep total as fast as possible
C1 – Accessory movement, your choice of reps
 
Weeks 7-12 – Super Sets 75-85% 1RM loading
 
A1 – Main Lift 3-8×1 working towards a heavy daily single
B1 – Main Lift at % totalling 25-50 reps
B2 – Antagonist exercise to main lift
C1 – Accessory movement, your choice of reps
 
Weeks 13-18 – Cluster Sets 80-90% 1RM loading
 
A1 – Main Lift 3-8×1 working towards a heavy daily single
B1 – Main Lift at % for 3-5 Cluster Sets totalling 25-50 reps
C1 – Accessory movement, your choice of reps
 
This is only a guideline of how you might apply the above methods, there are plenty more you can use. The defining factor to building muscle will always be total volume, to achieve that using low reps you will need to up your workout density (keeping rest to a minimum) and get as many quality reps as you can with ideally 80%+, however that will take time to build up to.
In short, while you can build muscle with low reps it takes a lot more planning, the best rep ranges for hypertrophy has to be 6-12 for 2-6 sets typically, however lower reps are far more fun :).
 
Enjoy,
Ross
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s