DON’T GET STUCK IN A REP RUT
Ok, you know that the ideal rep range for hypertrophy (building muscle) is 8-12 reps and you know the ideal rep range for getting stronger is 4-8 with heavy loads. But for most people the goal is not to become a competitive power lifter, a competitive body builder or physique competitor. The goal for most people is to look better and feel better. (Admit it; it’s mainly to look better)
You also know that a stronger muscle gets bigger and a bigger muscle gets stronger. But did you ever stop to think about why bodybuilders are bigger than power lifters? Power lifters are obviously stronger. Why aren’t they bigger?
Power lifters are only concerned with one thing-getting stronger. So power lifters do one thing-lift heavy for low reps. Heavy lifting for low reps build dense hard Type II muscle fibers.
Bodybuilders, on the other hand, should train in all rep ranges which also builds Type I muscle fibers.
No muscle in the body is totally Type I or Type II muscle fibers though there are a couple that contain as high as 90% of one or the other type. Most, however, have a ratio of around 60:40. So if you are training in only one rep range you are, to some degree, ignoring 40-60% of the muscle fibers.
The point is you need to train both types of muscle fibers by getting out of the “Rep Rut”. It’s called “Periodization” and it simply means alternating your workouts between strength and hypertrophy (and endurance and/or power phases) using a predetermined cycle or phase. The phases can vary in length from days to weeks
Studies indicate that periodization improves strength, hypertrophy, body composition and motor performance considerably better than non-periodization programs.
Here is an example of a periodization model by muscle fiber type;
Since there is an almost endless array of periodization programs possible I’ll be describing some of them in detail in future articles, but the chart above will give you the general idea.