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Don’t forget to forget counting your reps

Don’t forget to forget counting your reps

“Sets and Reps” are intrinsically woven into the fabric of bodybuilding/resistance training and are arguably one of the very first things we learn in the gym. Although by definition, fixing the amount of repetitions we perform can actually act as a hindrance as well as an inspirational target.

Let me explain – one of my “bug bears” in the gym is when you see enthusiastic trainers walking around with one of those gym cards a well meaning instructor has provided with a list of exercises, sets and reps that they have to undertake.

Upon doing so, the person simply ticks a box in recognition of completing the task. Problem is though, the development of the body is anything but “fixed” so we’re potentially in danger of placing serious limitations on each and every working set – this should ring alarm bells!

Now if we have a set goal in mind prior to a working set and truly focus upon that goal, we are more than likely to achieve it, but what if you could go on and perhaps manage an extra 2-3 reps? This question challenges us to view training to failure in a new and more helpful light. I have no doubts that the vast majority of you reading this do indeed train to failure, that’s not in question but training to failure on each working set is something you have to be incredibly pro-active about.

It’s a case of not being satisfied with our current limits as we seek to find our new limits, in each and every set and rep. We can all very easily (and often subconsciously) complete our sets once the desired amount of reps have been achieved instead of when the muscles can no longer handle the strain. This is the wrong approach for optimum muscle overload and the sets leading up to our heaviest lifts are the ones most likely to have limits/constraints placed upon them.

If we are fully warmed up then doesn’t it stand to reason that every rep of every set should have the sole purpose of taking the working muscles to failure? Or should we back off on these sets so we can glorify ourselves with a bigger weight on our heaviest lift? Are we really that vein? Or are our ultimate goals so much more important? Fact is we break a lot more muscle down when “dealing with failure” over 4 sets than we do over 1!

Reps essentially fit into three very general categories with 3 different objectives – we should consider doing a selection of all 3 in our workouts:

Strength – 1 to 5 reps.

Hypertrophy (muscle size) – 6-12 reps.

Endurance – 12 reps+

This doesn’t mean however we should have a fixed number in our heads in our approach to each set.

When you’re not focusing on counting reps you’re focusing more on the working muscles, technique and of course muscle overload. But this can be tricky as counting reps has no doubt become integral to your training and somewhat ingrained.

Use this tip several times in each workout and start reaping the benefits immediately:

I suggest starting off your set with several totally random numbers, 7, 11, 3, 9, 1 etc you’ll soon lose track of your reps and begin to focus on the exercises prime objective – to take the muscles to failure and beyond!

How many reps will you have done? Who knows, but more importantly you’ll be rest assured that each rep has served its primary purpose. This will inevitably breakdown more muscle and therefore be creating a greater platform for growth!

You will also further the development of the crucial “‘mind – muscle” connection as you focus on the contractions of each and every rep without compromise.

So remember to start forgetting, might just get you through a plateau.

Disclaimer: All exercises on this site are intended for healthy individuals without any present medical conditions. If you are currently experiencing any bone, joint, or musculoskeletal pain, we advise you to consult a licensed health care professional prior to commencing any of the exercises suggested within this site. The author, editor, and publisher specifically disclaim all responsibility and liability for any injury arising from the use and application of the information provided within this site.

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