Maximize Your Strength and Gains With This Simple Rep Scheme
Did you know there’s a simple way to get more gains from your strength workouts? The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has an upcoming study that uncovered this phenomenon. Researchers took 22 men who recreationally trained for strength and size and broke them into two groups. Everyone trained four times per week for twelve weeks. But each group worked their main lifts with a slightly different rep scheme. The control group performed 4 sets of 10 reps with 2 minutes rest between sets - a pretty traditional workout. The test group performed 8 sets of 5 reps with 1 minute rest between sets. Notice the trend? Both groups performed 40 total reps in approximately the same amount of time, just with different rep schemes. Both groups used loads ranging from 65-75% of 1RM, and total volume was about the same between groups.
The group doing the 8x5 rep scheme experienced greater gains across the board. While everyone increased in lean body mass by about the same amount, the test group showed much greater strength through using more sets and shorter rest intervals. The test group averaged a 33 pound increase on bench press and a 140 pound increase on squat (using a Smith machine). The control group averaged just 20 pounds and 107 pounds, respectively. The test group also gained more power in the vertical jump over the control group.
The book isn’t closed on this topic yet, though. Previous studies haven’t shown this type of difference. In fact, some studies have shown that this type of rep scheme resulted in fewer gains than a traditional program. Those studies tended to use heavier loads, around 85% 1RM, so that could be a factor.
So when training for hypertrophy, you might want to use this rep scheme rather than the traditional sets of 8-12 reps. You’ll still get the same increase in size, and your gains in absolute strength could skyrocket.
1. Jonathan Oliver, et. al. Greater Gains in Strength and Power With Intra-Set Rest Intervals in Hypertrophic Training. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (forthcoming). POST ACCEPTANCE, 3 June 2013. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182891672.
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