THURS: Low vs. High Reps. When and Why?
The most underrated part of the board each day is how many reps we perform. In tier one, we aim to build a combination of strength and structure which is why we center our programming around the five rep set. But what about the rest of the workout? Why are certain rep schemes chosen over others?
One of my personal pet peeves in bad programming is the “throw a shit ton of reps on the board and make it challenging” approach. It’s creating fatigue through low hanging fruit that carries with it a very heavy cost. Movement. Conditioning must walk the careful line of challenging enough to create adaptation, but sensible enough to keep movement pattern. It’s very easy to have thoughtless conditioning work sabotage all that work we put into tier one, and really, all the work you have put in your training prior to that day.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a conditioning work piece that has you perform 200 body weight squats over the course of a 20 minute duration (not unlike today). Ignore what else it’s paired with and instead pay attention to just the squat reps. We can perform these 200 reps in a number of ways, but here are a few examples.
- 200 at once
- 100 x 2
- 50 x 4
- 25 x 8
- 20 x 10
- 10 x 20
Quick. Which one do you think would net the best fitness? Weird question, I know. But which one will provide enough stimulus to be difficult while also preserving movement pattern?
Really, it’s any of the sets of 50 reps and under because at that range, we are able to challenge endurance and lactate threshold, and build endurance while also keeping the integrity of our position. It does very little good to ask someone to perform more than fifty of anything at a time (save for rare instances in highly trained individuals) because position will break down and once position breaks down, we begin teaching ourselves how to move poorly. Reps get sloppy and we hard wire poor movement that we will take with us into our next workout. You’re crazy if you think 200 faulty reps won’t have an adverse effect the next time you get under load in that movement (i.e. a back squat)
In most cases outside of structure work, intensity will usually be more effective than volume. Choose your rep count wisely and make sure you don’t mortgage your future movement for the near mirage of volume based fatigue.
How you move under body weight or light load is how you move under heavy load.
In Teams of 4.
*Break up among your team*
200 RKB Swings
200 Rope Waves
100 Renegade Rows
100 Hollow Rocks
60 Cal Assault Bike
80 Push Ups
Run 1 Mile Together as a Team