The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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Thread: Reps/Weight

  1. #1
    Delphi Fusion
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    Reps/Weight

    It'd be great to get some solid answers for this one it's really bugging me.

    What makes more difference to muscle growth the number of reps at weight x or the weight itself?

    Of course the more weight the less reps you can do and vise versa but do either have advantages or disadvantages in certain situations?

    More importantly do they both tire and stress the muscle in the same way? In a scientific situation lifting a weight ten times is like lifting a weight half is weight twenty times, so surely they are both the same.

    An odd one I know but the more I think of it the more it makes less scense to me.
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  3. #2
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    Science was never my field of specialty, but I do know this.

    Repping 20 pounds 20 times is not the same as repping 40 pounds 10 times. You get better gains with 40 pounds. I don't know the scientific reasoning behind it, but I think it has to do with shocking the muscles and something to do with type a and type b ii fibers and that sorta stuff.

  4. #3
    skinny white boy
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    Number of reps. Has to do with fiber recruitment and neural factors, among other less relevant things.

  5. #4
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    here is some info on muscle fibers
    http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/muscle.htm

    The number of repetitions performed to fatigue is an important consideration in designing a strength training program. The greatest strength gains appear to result from working with 4-6RM. Increasing this to 12-20RM favours the increase in muscle endurance and mass.

    How much load you use depends upon what it is you wish to develop:
    * 1RM to 3RM - neuromuscular strength
    * 4RM to 6RM - maximum strength by stimulating muscle hypertrophy
    * 6RM to 12RM - muscle size (hypertrophy) with moderate gains in strength (Fleck & Kraemer, 1996)
    * 12RM to 20RM - muscle size and endurance
    http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/weight.htm
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 06-08-2004 at 05:39 PM.

  6. #5
    En botella whey! Max-Mex's Avatar
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    So what happens when you do small rep counts, but more sets? Don't see that listed there.

    For example: I do 4x3 for squats (2 min rest between sets). So where would that put me on the list?
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  7. #6
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    according to the studies in this post:
    http://www.wannabebigforums.com/showthread.php?t=48817
    doing more than one set per body part results in 0-5% more gains.

    but there is more to it i'm sure...
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 06-08-2004 at 07:07 PM.

  8. #7
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    When you add stress to a muscle and ask it to contract your body figures out the minimum ammount of motor units it needs to fire to move the weight. This results in the minimum number of fibers in the muscle in question being fired by your nervous system.

    Two factors to remeber are type 1 and II fibers and the difference between intensity and fatigue.

    Low reps + heavy weight will mean the body has to recruit more fibers to move the weight. All muscles are a mix of type I and II fibers (simplistically speaking)...and type II fibers show the biggest volume changes when they are stimulated. Becasue ytpe II fibers are explosive fibers...they require heavy loades to trigger their recruitment. So...heavy weights and low reps will trigger type II fiber recruitment (and thus the greatest subsequent muscle volume increase from hypertrophy)...BUT also has the benefit of not causing fatigue.

    medium weight + higher reps = fatigue = lactic acid generation and glycogen depletion. If thats what you are shooting for thats cool. Lactic acid benefits tendon growth and joint helath. Also glycogen depletion is a tool for fat loss (see UD2).

    heavy weight + low reps = type II hypertrophic stimulation + not reaching fatugue and so there is glycogen left in the muscle to aid in recovery/growth.

    In answer to your question Max-Mex...if you keep doing sets (that are low rep/high weight) all you will do is reach fatuige...and make lactic acid and deplete all the glycogen. I dont think thats particularly productive to hypertophic growth. It already got plenty stimulated (full type II fiber recruitment) by set 3. Why do 4 or 5 or 6? However....if its working...dont fix it

    Im sure ive missed out several other points/mechanisms....but thats the simple view. And its late and im tired.

    Augs

  9. #8
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    here is some more good readings on fibers
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/betteru25.htm
    http://www.teenbodybuilding.com/shane6.htm

    it has a nice chart for reps and how ideal they are for growing each of the fibers and for adding strength.
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 06-08-2004 at 08:23 PM.

  10. #9
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    I'd take into account, the ATP science.

    ATP is for gaining mass, but that's not what all people are after sometimes.

    Anything after 10 seconds and you are starting to burn sugar - in fact not only starting, but converting to mainly sugar burning.

    For 6-10 seconds you are using ATP. There is the creatine used in there at the end but the ATP is more important.

    So even if you did 10 really fast reps, as much as you can, ten of them, and you took around 10 seconds to do it, then you'd be good. You probably can't do this though, unless your focus is really really fast twitch fibers.

    Myself, I take a tiny bit longer than ten seconds due to letting the weight back down (negative). It's not too bad to go over 10 seconds, but just try to come close to ten seconds. This is again for maximum muscle gain - this may not be your goal.

    So instead of worrying about how many reps, or how many weights lifted, I worry about doing a ten second lift. It's got to be heavy if it's within 10 seconds. Doing weights within ten seconds forces you to do your maximum or near maximum - because if you do beyond ten seconds, you can't lift your heavy weight. Similar to why a 100M sprinter can no longer sprint fast at the very end of the race - it's usually over in 10-12 seconds. You see them slow down at the finish line a bit. They are utilizing all their ATP. When they hit the "near finish line", they slow down because of lack of creatine and ATP - they start burning sugar. Sugar is not a good 100M sprinting fuel at all.

    You will still get big gains if you go beyond ten seconds. Just because you go beyond ten seconds, does not mean that you didn't put a lot of stress on the ATP system. It's just that if you want to do the heaviest weight possible, you really only have ten seconds.. it isn't humanly possible to lift a heavy, real heavy weight, beyond ten seconds. It is possible to lift weights beyond ten seconds, but not the heaviest - that's the science.

  11. #10
    Delphi Fusion
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    Fantastic responses. So I would be correct in saying that when we design a workout we need to take into account the muscle(s) we are working for a given exercise and the type of fibers which make up the majority of the muscle before we decide how many reps and sets. Also we need to take in to account our goals and weaknesses.

    Lactic acid benefits tendon growth and joint helath. Also glycogen depletion is a tool for fat loss (see UD2).
    So if you have a reaccuring tendon problem this might be an idea.

    Sometimes after a big lift you get muscle twitches (well I do) is this due to fibers still being fired?
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  12. #11
    En botella whey! Max-Mex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Augury
    In answer to your question Max-Mex...if you keep doing sets (that are low rep/high weight) all you will do is reach fatuige...and make lactic acid and deplete all the glycogen. I dont think thats particularly productive to hypertophic growth. It already got plenty stimulated (full type II fiber recruitment) by set 3. Why do 4 or 5 or 6? However....if its working...dont fix it
    For squats, it really boils down to wrist issues. That's the only reason. My wrists begin to hurt quite a bit if I do more than 3 reps. I used to do front squats and ofcourse this wasn't an issue, but I stalled and was getting a little frustrated. Went back to regular squats and made some serious gains. However, trying to do 6 reps(2 sets) (my normal rep count when I was doing front squats) just wasn't happening. So I split up the rest time (8 mins total) and reps (12 total) into 4x3 (2 min rest between sets).

    The benefits I see from doing a routine like this is I can use a heavy weight and I fatigue myself because of the short rest time. Also, because I'm doing lower reps, I feel I can concentrate more on getting 3 really good reps. Plus, my wrists are much happier now.
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    PB's&Goals

    Deadlift: PR 1@440, Goal 1@450
    Squat: PR 1@375, Goal 1@400
    Bench: PR 2@275, Goal 1@300

  13. #12
    skinny white boy
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    Augury is correct. Listen to this guy, he knows what he's talking about...and isn't too lazy to type it all out.

  14. #13
    Banned Jezmason's Avatar
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    I think i saw better gains while doing 3 sets of 6, infact, i think i may start doing it again...

  15. #14
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ps101
    Similar to why a 100M sprinter can no longer sprint fast at the very end of the race - it's usually over in 10-12 seconds. You see them slow down at the finish line a bit. They are utilizing all their ATP. When they hit the "near finish line", they slow down because of lack of creatine and ATP - they start burning sugar. Sugar is not a good 100M sprinting fuel at all.
    That is extremely questionable...by no means does a sprinter need to slow down in the last steps of a 100m race...if they do its only because the race is over and they know they are not going to jump from 3rd to 1st in the last 3 steps.

    consider that the world records are as follows
    100m: 9.78
    200m: 19.32 (.24 seconds faster than 2x100m: 12.4% increase in speed)
    400m: 43.18 (4.06 seconds off 4x100: 9.4% decrease in top speed)
    800m: 1.41.11 (22.87 seconds off 8x100: 22.6% decrease in top speed)

    I realize that the first 5-10 meters of the 100 are piddly slow (relative to the rest of the race) and that in the greater distances acceleration from 0 is only once...also momentum of a 180lb sprinter travling in excess of 30mph goes a long way...

    So...that taken into account

    consider the speed of a 4x100 world record squad
    where the world record is 37.4 (1 start)
    1.72 seconds off of 4x100 world record speed (4 starts)
    so if each start is costing 0.57 seconds (assuming the runners are at full speed it actually illustrates that the runner in the 200m dash is running at top speed a helluva lot longer than 90 meters before the deceleration point is reached.

    my math is probably off, and my logic certainly is flaky...but I couldn't let a statement like "a 100M sprinter can no longer sprint fast at the very end of the race" go without retort.

    BTW, carl lewis is and always will be king in my book
    There is where I'd like to put in my pic standing next to him on the track if only I had a scanner!
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 06-09-2004 at 03:49 PM.

  16. #15
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ps101
    Anything after 10 seconds and you are starting to burn sugar - in fact not only starting, but converting to mainly sugar burning.

    For 6-10 seconds you are using ATP. There is the creatine used in there at the end but the ATP is more important.
    why is the ATP more important than the ADP/creatine phase?
    As in, whats the disadvantage of going the extra bit (14-18 seconds total) into your ADP/creatine to knock out an extra 2-3 reps? I typically only do 3ish reps per 10 seconds myself.

    I've read in several places that the ATP timing is as you suggest 4-10 seconds before the ADP/Creatine kicks in which can last 30 seconds (some would say up to 1 minute, some would say only an additional 10 seconds).

    Do you burn sugar in the ADP/Creatine stage? or does that not start until ur past there?
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 06-09-2004 at 03:48 PM.

  17. #16
    Senior Member aka23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ps101
    I'd take into account, the ATP science.

    ATP is for gaining mass, but that's not what all people are after sometimes.

    Anything after 10 seconds and you are starting to burn sugar - in fact not only starting, but converting to mainly sugar burning.

    For 6-10 seconds you are using ATP. There is the creatine used in there at the end but the ATP is more important.
    ...
    You will still get big gains if you go beyond ten seconds. Just because you go beyond ten seconds, does not mean that you didn't put a lot of stress on the ATP system. It's just that if you want to do the heaviest weight possible, you really only have ten seconds.. it isn't humanly possible to lift a heavy, real heavy weight, beyond ten seconds.

    Muscle cells store ~6 mmol ATP/kg. This can sustain about 1 second of sprinting or intense weight training. Here is a graph of fuel sources during varying lengths of maximum intensity exercise http://www.wannabebigforums.com/atta...achmentid=6948 . There is not a dramatic shift at any one point. Glycolyis gradually becomes the more dominant fuel source. Similarly both strength and speed drop gradually, but for a variety of reasons besides fuel sources. Plenty of people can lift heavy weights for more than 10 seconds.
    Last edited by aka23; 06-09-2004 at 04:07 PM.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka23
    Plenty of people can lift heavy weights for more than 10 seconds.
    not your max. Heavy weights, yes, I already agreed with that.

    Are you telling me that the absolute maximum weight a guy has ever power cleaned could be lifted twice? No way.

    There are so many times I've experienced the ten second situation myself. I'm doing my heaviest weight possible, and I can only do ten seconds of work. Anything more and I will just drop the weight on my foot. I'll notice a surge of power for 6-10 seconds, and then when I try to do my next rep, it's like I lost my leg or I lost my arm or something. It is not even there! it's completely DEAD.

    Regarding the argument about sprinting:
    Sprinting is completely different than weightlifting. You have momentum and it's not the same. It's like comparing flying an airplane to walking. You can't just stop the airplane in the middle of the air, but if you are walking you can. Weights is not comparable to sprinting. I shouldn't have even brought in sprinting to the conversation because it just brings in a bunch of mathametics that we cannot calculate here in a forum (momentum, acceleration, etc.). It's like doing a couple of math calculations and telling me you know everything about a computer.. it's just too complex and requires calculus, etc. The point is you can't compare 200M to 100M by it's time's and say "one is double the other" "so there it can't be ATP for ten seconds".

    If you can lift weights beyond ten seconds, you aren't doing your maxiumum weight.

    I should have clarified what I meant when I said "the ATP system". What I meant was your "potential atp". In other words, your ATP that is available immediately.. not the ATP that's available from the SLOW conversion processes (read low weight, high rep, lactic acid).

    Regarding creatine:
    I will have to look into the creatine system and study it again, but I recall it was 6 seconds for ATP and 6-10 second range for creatine. Of course when you go beyond 10 seocnds there is still a bit of creatine being used, but the point is that it's most significant during that 6-10 second bit. After that, it is very insignificant. Indirectly it can be significant (since you delay the sugar burning by up to 4 seconds!! this can mean like 4 seconds of extra potential ATP). You can even give a runner creatine and he could benefit from it (when going up a hill or when there is a wind against him) , but the significant portion of it's use that really matters is in that 6-10 second range.

    I know there is ALWAYS a bit of ATP used all the time (even a 40 Mile runner uses ATP). I am talking about the important ATP, the stuff that makes you build muscle the fastest.

    When I say ATP, I mean the ATP available to you RIGHT NOW. Almost or almost everything is based on ATP within the subject of any muscle work, I'm talking about the 6 seconds of ATP available to you. POTENTIAL stores RIGHT NOW.

    Just the other day I was able to lift TWO reps of my "supposed 1 rep max". My 1 rep usually takes about 6-10 seconds. Now since I was able to lift two of them, I knew for sure that that was no longer my 1 rep max. So I upped the weight, and I was right. Now I could only do 1 lift. My second rep attempt of the new upgraded weight resulted in feeling no energy left. Felt like my arms would fall off. If you can do more than 6-10 seconds of work, you aren't doing your heaviest weight. In no way you should train with your heaviest weight all the time.. of course. That's why you can still get big by doing ten reps. You are using the "potential atp system" still, but not its maximum potential.

    Look, it's simple. This is why high rep weight lifting doesn't build as much muscle as low rep. It's a time factor. You can't argue and twist math and say that ATP is always relevant and that you will build muscle beyond ten seconds, otherwise marathon runners and 400M runners would be as BIG as 100M runners. It doesn't matter how much explaining or math you do, there's ten rough seconds and that's what we are given for the heaviest possible load (not heavy, heaviest).

    Quote Originally Posted by aka23
    There is not a dramatic shift at any one point.
    There is a very dramatic shift. This shift is oxidation. Nothing is more dramatic than just a few seconds of difference between making it or breaking it. If you use oxygen, you aren't lifting your heaviest weight. Only a few seconds more, adn all of a sudden oxygen starts coming into play. I consider this very dramatic. It's only in a few seconds that all this happens, not like a few minutes.
    Last edited by ps101; 06-10-2004 at 02:21 PM.

  19. #18
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ps101
    You can't argue and twist math and say that ATP is always relevant and that you will build muscle beyond ten seconds, otherwise marathon runners and 400M runners would be as BIG as 100M runners. It doesn't matter how much explaining or math you do, there's ten rough seconds and that's what we are given for the heaviest possible load
    I agree with just about everything u said, we're just giving you a hard time, we love looking for holes in everything people say because we're just really keen on learning
    BTW, welcome to the board! u seem to know ur stuff, are you a physiology major?

    However you finished with something else I want to tweak u about
    100m and 400m runners are about the same size...and the reason they aren't as big as marathon runners is because of the difference in muscle fibers between the groups.
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 06-10-2004 at 02:14 PM.

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffgarcia
    why is the ATP more important than the ADP/creatine phase?
    As in, whats the disadvantage of going the extra bit (14-18 seconds total) into your ADP/creatine to knock out an extra 2-3 reps? I typically only do 3ish reps per 10 seconds myself.

    I've read in several places that the ATP timing is as you suggest 4-10 seconds before the ADP/Creatine kicks in which can last 30 seconds (some would say up to 1 minute, some would say only an additional 10 seconds).

    Well during the ATP stage you can still lift more weight than in the creatine stage. The body uses creatine as more of a back up. SO it all depends on what you are after. I'd say if you were a skier or something doing a 30 second ski run, then yes I'd go ahead and train for 30 seconds.. because if your race is 30 seconds, you don't want to train for 6 seconds.

    Quote Originally Posted by geoffgarcia
    "Do you burn sugar in the ADP/Creatine stage? or does that not start until ur past there?"
    Hrm I'm not too sure, will have too look into this.

  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by geoffgarcia
    I agree with just about everything u said, we're just giving you a hard time, we love looking for holes in everything people say because we're just really keen on learning
    BTW, welcome to the board! u seem to know ur stuff, are you a physiology major?

    However you finished with something else I want to tweak u about
    100m and 400m runners are about the same size...and the reason they aren't as big as marathon runners is because of the difference in muscle fibers between the groups.
    Haha, well I came on to this board because I saw a lot of people here that know their stuff. A lot of boards on the net are just full of BS "training routines" whereas this web board includes a lot of science and actual results and photos of you guys.

    Have you seen marathon runners on tv..... they are really really bony. I suppose I have not watched the olympic running in a while. I will have to look at some 400M runners. I know some of them are tall and skinny, but from what I have seen... marathon runners actually look anorexic sometimes, wheras 400M runners look just skinny.

    Also the mitochondria increases in size, within the cell, but that doesn't mean muscle size.. so a 400M runner might have big mitochondria and still slim muscles.

    As for physiology: I am no expert, I've never taken a course in my life. I'd like to be debated and corrected where wrong.

  22. #21
    Senior Member aka23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ps101
    ...
    doesn't matter how much explaining or math you do, there's ten rough seconds and that's what we are given for the heaviest possible load (not heavy, heaviest).
    ...
    There is a very dramatic shift. This shift is oxidation. Nothing is more dramatic than just a few seconds of difference between making it or breaking it. If you use oxygen, you aren't lifting your heaviest weight. Only a few seconds more, adn all of a sudden oxygen starts coming into play. I consider this very dramatic. It's only in a few seconds that all this happens, not like a few minutes.
    There have been many studies showing the rate of strength decline as reps increase. For example Brzycki's paper "Strength testing: Predicting a one-rep max from a reps-to-fatigue" found the following relationship between 1-rep maxium and reps-to-fatigue maxiumm at other weights in relatively untrained persons.

    1 rep -- 100%
    2 reps -- 97.2%
    3 reps -- 94.4%
    4 reps -- 91.7%
    5 reps -- 88.9%
    6 reps -- 86.1%
    7 reps -- 83.3%
    8 reps -- 80.5%
    9 reps -- 77.8%
    10 reps -- 75.1%
    ...

    The above table indicates that the subjects average 5 rep maximum was 88.9% of their one rep maximum. There would be a different curve with more trained persons, especially at the lower reps. However, the basic idea is the same. There is not a dramatic shift in weight at 6 seconds, 10 seconds, or any other point. The strength decline is gradual.

    Quote Originally Posted by ps101
    This shift is oxidation..
    The oxidative metabolism would not become the dominant energy source until more than 90-120 seconds.
    Last edited by aka23; 06-10-2004 at 03:51 PM.

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