If you’re strutting into the gym aiming for elite status from the first set, you might find yourself burned out or pinned down disappointingly fast. Set yourself up for sustained success by treating these lifting benchmarks with respect!
If you want know if you’re strong—or not strong, for that matter—you can easily find people online who are quite willing to tell you, in no uncertain terms. The fitness industry, and fitness culture in general, is saturated with standards that “prove” that you’re hardcore enough to hang with the big dogs.
I get the appeal of big goals, big muscles, and big lifts, but only when they’re earned through hard work—not when they’re chased at the expense of life and limb. If you’re trying to “hack” your way to the 1,000 club, an ego check is just what the doctor ordered to keep your gains on track while staying injury free.
- The Right To Train For High Reps
I’m not talking about super-light sets of triceps kick-backs here. Twenty-rep squat protocols and marathon bench sessions have an allure going back decades. They seem to promise that if you’re just mentally tough enough to last all the way through the set, you’ll be rewarded with near-magical, Instagram-worthy gains.
If only it was as simple as being mentally tough! Truthfully, your potential for injury only increases as the amount of time you spend in a working set increases, for obvious reasons. Once you place your body under load for an extended period of time, the anaerobic system runs out of steam, lactate starts to gain control, and the muscles begin to shut down. All of a sudden, a movement that started out working certain muscles is overly relying on others—and things can go south in a hurry.
In my opinion, higher rep training, as great for conditioning and hypertrophy as it can be, should be reserved for intermediate lifters who have good awareness of their body and a sound strength to build upon. Novice lifters need to earn their way to this point by training for strength first, and generally keeping to sets of no more than 6 reps.
Let the slightly heavier weights teach you! Mastering lifts with good form using lower reps is great for developing strength, stimulating the CNS to release more hormones, and even putting on initial size gains.