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A Game of Reps

When it comes to developing tone in a muscle, or a base level of strength, or adjusting your body composition via the way of lifting weights, there is absolutely one thing you need to do, and that is to up your reps game.


Let's say you want to build your Quadricep muscle (front thigh muscles), you need to do squats, a knee extension and flexion exercise. You could do leg presses or leg extensions, but these exercises don't maximise growth potential of the muscle.


Now, bearing in mind most people lack strength in the upper back to adequately perform front squats, we should opt for back squats, where you put the bar on the shoulders, behind your neck. Your body is automatically then loaded with the weight of the bar.


So, how many reps do you do?


Well, it doesn't actually matter, the amount of reps you do is based on things like:


- Are you training to build muscle or to burn some calories?

- Are you training for a sport or just to get fitter for your kids?

- Are you training for a PR or just casually?


I would recommend starting with 5 reps, because when you get 5 reps, that opens you up to the next option, which is to either increase the weight, or increase the reps. If you increase the weight, you should stick to just 5 reps and then increase the weight once you hit 5 reps. If you increase the reps, you should stick with the same weight and increase to 8, then 12, then 15.


Why? Because that's how I've always done it, and it's always worked for me.


When you start with a new target amount of weight, your body will not be neurologically accustomed to it, so it needs time to adjust. Let's go back to the weight on the bar, which is 20kg. If you have never performed a squat with 20kg before, it will be difficult the first time around, and you might struggle to get 10 reps.


Then, when you do it again, you get 12 reps, and again, and you get 15 reps. So then, what do you do? Well, you increase the weight to 22.5kg, and you perform the same rep formula you did with the bar, which was to aim for 15 reps, except that you may not get 15 reps, you might only get 6 or 7, and for all 3 sets too, but that's fine, it is to be expected, because you are not strong enough yet, but don't stop, because everytime you train, you get just a little bit stronger, you train your body to produce more force and lift the weight.


What happens is that in week 1, you train for 3 days, each day you train you perform squats with a 20kg barbell, and on day 1 you get 3 sets of 10 reps, on day 2 you get 1 set of 10, 1 set of 11 and 1 sets of 13 reps, and on day 3 you really push it and get 1 sets of 12, 1 set of 13 and 1 set of 15, and you really push yourself.


The next time you train, you add another 2.5kg to the bar, making it 22.5kg, and you start again, aiming for 3 sets of 15, knowing that you won't get those 3 sets of 15 reps, but you do it anyway, because you have to.


So, you do 3 sets and you get 1 set of 10, 1 set of 9 and 1 set of 7. This is information that you can use for you next set on your next training day, and you set yourself a target of 1 set of 11, 1 set of 10 and 1 set of 8, that's the minimum you want, any more is a bonus.


This is how it works with reps, you get what you work for, but you are always starting from scratch.


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