Is using a rep range an effective method for growth?

Discussion in 'General Training' started by nLinked, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. nLinked

    nLinked New Member

    Currently doing HST and happy so far.

    I was thinking to myself, if I never heard of HST or didn't read any other method, and I was left only to my own creation, I would come up with something like this:

    1. Set a rep range of 6-8 for all exercises and a fixed rep speed, e.g. 2s up, 2s down
    2. Choose 5-7 compound exercises
    3. Find my 6 rep max for all exercises (rep 7 must fail)
    4. Start exercising over the next few days, and challenge myself (with good form only) to try to do a 7th rep
    5. When my strength is better and I can do 8 reps at the same speed, increase the weight so it becomes my new 6 rep max

    What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it's an effective method? It's contrary to HST because with HST you put your RM at the last workout of the 2 week block. But with the above you start with your 6 RM, and try to reach to 8 reps over the next few days, and then you increase the weight to make it 6 RM again.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  2. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    It's not really that different to HST. The progressive load element is obviously greatly reduced, but that is true of any program/regime which doesn't facilitate some degree of SD.

    All you're really doing is raising the weight when you can. I assume frequency is the same (every other day/3-4 times per week).

    I'll note that choosing 6 and 8 reps is fairly arbitrary.

    In fact, it appears rather similar to Lyle McDonald's generic bulking routine.
  3. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    My thoughts are that I would rather just do HST.
  4. nLinked

    nLinked New Member

    Thanks. This isn't something I plan on doing, just trying to compare. Getting steady gains with HST so far. If I was doing the above, yes, would add SD, and it would be 3 days week.

    Wanted to clarify one thing regarding the progression element. If we simplify the progressive load method of HST greatly, would I be right in saying, the last workout of each 2 week block is the 15, 10, or 5 RM, and because each workout before it is an increment lighter, the aim is to do those more slowly so you still finish at 15, 10, or 5 reps (depending which week it is)?
  5. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Can you reword that last question, it doesn't really convey what you want to know.
  6. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Is this really a question about training close to failure throughout a cycle?

    Ie. are you suggesting that, when using sub-max loads for a particular rep range (let's call it N), you think that slowing down the tempo in order to ensure you can only manage N reps is what we are after? Well, no, that's not the aim. You could do that but I would think it would be hard to do. Doing so would take you closer to failure for every set of every exercise. That is something that we are trying to avoid doing for most of the cycle.

    The RM sessions are the ones where you are training to failure. Pushing yourself to the point of failure has more of an effect on your CNS than on your muscle tissue. Pushing yourself to failure more often will add to your level of accumulated fatigue. That could cause you to under-perform at the heavy end of the cycle, right when you need to feel as strong as possible. By only training to failure (or close to failure, depending on your definition of failure) every couple of weeks, you allow your CNS some time to recover and for some fatigue to dissipate (or at the very least it will accumulate less quickly).

    If you want to get your body better at dealing with the effects of failure training then train to failure more often. However, it is not required for hypertrophy and that is surely why you are here? Occasional training to failure does have some benefit in the area of strength and it can be 'fun' to test your strength every so often, so it's not something that needs to be completely avoided either. In my experience, a regular HST cycle has a good balance of both failure and not-to-failure training.

    On the other hand, I may have misunderstood what you meant and be barking up the wrong tree!
  7. nLinked

    nLinked New Member

    I'm glad I asked because this changes everything I believed I was doing right!

    Yes, my question refers to when HST states that you should find your 15, 10 and 5 rep maxes, and to plan your workouts, you go backwards from the last day of each 2 week block, going down incrementally by for example 5% or 5 lbs, until the first workout of that block. Because of that, I assumed I was right in thinking that because the first few days of each week are lighter than your (15, 10 or 5) rep max, you should be doing them slower so you still fatigue and finish at those stated reps.

    I thought in the HST FAQ it said start off slowly, and then become faster in rep speed as you feel your energy dropping and feel the burn in order to complete those reps.

    I only want to do it properly - as HST states, and I think I may have understood it all wrong now. If we are not supposed to go slow in the earlier workouts of each 2 week block, I'm thinking the weight would be too easy, and I would stop at (15, 10, or 5) and not have felt like I've done anything. Where am I going wrong? I'm sure my initial rep maxes are correct as I fail to do another rep without sacrificing form.

    That's exactly what I thought it meant all this time, and now I'm not so sure how it's meant to be!

    Edit: this is where I saw this:

    Last edited: Mar 1, 2013
  8. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Notice that it says "difficult to complete the set" and not "working to failure" or anything along those lines.

    Who cares if the weight feels to easy? Feelings don't matter. Your muscles don't have emotions or feelings. They won't decide to not switch on protein synthesis because they don't feel like they worked enough. Muscles response to load and time under tension, not feelings. As long as you are not starting out too light, you will be triggering growth. Stop thinking "working backwards from RMs" and instead think along the lines of "start at 70% of my RM and progress up to my RM on the final day" because you aren't working backwards, you are building up. If you are starting out too light, that would be a problem though.
  9. nLinked

    nLinked New Member

    Thank you for clearing this up for me.
  10. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    When you slow down reps you are increasing TUT for the same rep total. You can do this if you like. Just stay away from failure, ie. it can be hard but there's no need to squirt eyeballs or give yourself piles!

    When the loads are light, I tend to just do more reps rather than slow things down. So at the beginning of a cycle with, say, 75% of my 15RM loads, I might do 20-25 reps depending on the exercise. If it's deads or squats I'll probably stop at 15 reps because it always seems plenty after SD. High-rep deads and squats are never going to be that easy, even when using 75% of your 15RM. SD has the effect of making the first few sessions seem way harder than you might expect.

    As an example, over the past couple of weeks following around a 10-day SD break, my front squat workouts have gone like this:

    Front Squat
    20/02 15 x 60kg (I followed that with 15 x 60kg back squat)
    23/02 2 x 15 x 70kg
    27/02 2 x 15 x 80kg
    01/03 15, 12 x 95kg

    After each of these sessions I had some leg and body soreness.

    15 x 95kg was a new 15RM but I'm hoping to hit 15 x 100kg before I switch to 10s. At that point I'll probably drop back to 90kg but do 3 x 10 which should give my CNS a break, and then I'll attempt to build the loads up to a new 10RM; rinse and repeat for 5s and then doubles or triples.

    My rep speed has been the same throughout so far. As the cycle continues and the loads get heavier, my rep speed will inevitably slow down. I try not to let that happen too much though because I'm after speed all the way to help with my O-lifts.

    During the 15s I try to blast through the set without pausing between reps so that I get the maximum amount of metabolic effects (ie. a great burn). Later in the cycle, when the loads are heavier, I may take a breath or two between reps but I'll try to maintain rep speed as much as I can.
  11. nLinked

    nLinked New Member

    I gave this a try today and had a great workout. Instead of increasing TUT, I kept the TUT constant (about 3s down, 1-2s up), and if I can do more than the rep target (which I did - almost double!), then so be it. It just means in my next HST cycle, I will increase the weight to bring the reps back down to the target. I like this idea. Thanks for the insight :)

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