Today I’m gonna reveal a secret to you. You’ve probably read that there is no secret – maybe I’ve even posted this myself in the past. Well, I was lying – whoever told you that was lying. Robbing you of progress, sending your muscle-building quest on a detour.
You gotta promise me to keep this to yourself. Actually thinking about it, I’d rather you shared the link to this post with your friends.
Short rests make for an instant gratification in the mirror. Getting a good pump going is like cocaine though – you’ll feel amazing for about 10-15 minutes, then you’re gonna need another hit. Before you know, you’ll be running around trying to pump up ten times a day. That’s not what we’re looking for. While getting a good pump going can be great, it’s not the super secret.
The secret is setting rep PRs in the 5-15(+) rep range.
It’s really that simple. Adding weight to the bar in the big lifts will transform your physique as long as you get plenty of food in you. While getting your 1RM up will definitely do the same thing, you might as well stick to the higher rep ranges (unless you’re competing in powerlifting/weightlifting). Less CNS impact, less weight (meaning less risk of injury) and a higher potential for hypertrophy. What’s not to like? Only downside is that you don’t get to test your strength all the time… Oh wait – but you do. Adding 10kg to a 5RM means you got stronger. Beating rep maxes is just as good as beating a 1RM – actually it’s better if your goal is to add size.
Whether you’ve added 10kg or 3 reps to your 5RM, you got stronger – you increased the potential for building muscle. Now go eat some good food and grow!
Instead of always obsessing about 1RMs if you’re training for size and strength – what you can do for a heavy triple, a set of five or eight is more important. Obviously though increasing your 1RM will increase your 8RM as well, but specializing in one or the other will make a difference over time. Most people really have no reason to go lower than 3 rep sets.