Will low reps get you strong?

A lot of people who we see on a day to day basis often have the same burning question when it comes to lifting: “Will high weight and low reps make you stronger?” The answer to this question is more complicated than you might think. Here, we’re going to have a look at this in a bit of depth, but take note that this article mainly applies to compound exercises, such as your bench press or squat.

High Weight

Firstly, we have to define what is actually meant by high weight. For most of you reading this, you may think that a 150kg squat is really heavy, in fact its likely too much for you to lift. If we then asked some competitive power lifters what they thought of lifting that weight, then the chances are they’ll laugh and tell us 150kg is “nothing but a peanut”.

What we’re trying to get across here is that the phrase high weight is simply relative to what you can lift: if you have a bench press PR of 100kg, then chances are that a heavy weight for you is 75kg or more. On the other hand, if you can bench 200kg (don’t worry, we’re talking hypothetically) then a heavy weight for you is likely to be 150kg or more.

To sum this up:

  • A heavy weight is relative to your own strength
  • It is typically at least 75% of your PR (or one rep max)

So does this mean you should train at 75% or 100% of your PR? Well you ideally want to be training within that range, sometimes nearer 75% and sometimes very close to your PR. Like with most things, variety is the spice of life, and the key to getting stronger.

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Low reps

So you’ve heard from your local gym rat that low reps is the way to go for getting strong: only bodybuilders lift for high reps and they’re all weak. Now we won’t lie to you, there is some truth in this, but again we need to explore it a little bit more. Most people in the gym, which probably includes you, like to train for at least 10 reps. They love to train for that pump and feel the burn: sadly, it’s not really going to get them or you much stronger.

Most scholars out there agree that the rep ranges you choose will benefit you in different ways

  • 1-5 Reps: Strength
  • 6-8 Reps: Strength and Hypertrophy
  • 9-12 Reps: Hypertrophy
  • Higher Reps: Endurance

As you can see, the two areas which are best for promoting strength are the 1-5 and 6-8 rep ranges. Now we imagine that most of you reading this probably weren’t aware that 8 reps could be good for building strength as it doesn’t really seem low, so hopefully this clears things up for you.

Now, like we said with the weight you should be using, you should be mixing up your rep ranges as well. Putting two and two together, we can see that there’s a pretty obvious link that arises: you aren’t going to be lifting 95% of your one rep max for 8 reps. There’s also not much point in trying to lift 80% of your one rep max for 2 reps as it will be far too easy. Which leads us on to our final point

How many reps for a given weight

  • 1 rep = 100%
  • 2 reps = 92-95%
  • 3 reps = 90-93%
  • 4 reps = 87-90%
  • 5 reps = 85-87%
  • 6 reps = 82-85%
  • 7 reps = 80-83%
  • 8 reps = 75-80%

Note: This is estimated and can vary depending on your levels of endurance. It is however a very good indicator for how much weight you should be lifting depending on your recommended number of reps.


We hope that we’ve now cleared up for what exactly is meant by high weight low reps and you can make some educated decisions on how much weight you should be lifting. Like we said, you should eventually use a variety of rep ranges to achieve your goals and become a stronger person. If you are after a programme to help start you out, check out the EHF Beginner Programme, which is full of information and guidance.

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Bulking on a Budget

It is often said that the road to six-pack abs or buns of steel starts in the kitchen. Here we’ll be giving you a couple of tips to help you on your way, and how you can do it on a budget!

Location matters

There is a lot of emphasis around in the media at the moment around so called “high quality meat” and food in general, but what does it actually mean for you and your pocket? Well first we’ll start by saying that there’s never been any real scientific evidence that suggests that organic food is better for you or that GM food will harm you. So you can look away from that £10 chicken breast and not be afraid to take a peek at the own brand food that’s on offer from Aldi or Lidl.

Trying not to cheat

It can be tempting in between meals to open up a bar of chocolate and nibble on it. But by doing that you are only cheating yourself. Try to stick closely to the foods you should be eating, believe us when we say the rewards will outweigh the hardship. (Don’t worry, a cupcake every once in a while won’t kill you.)

And now onto the most important part, the most essential foods that will give you the most nutritional value for your money.

Whole Chicken

A whole chicken is not only economic, but is also a great way to obtain a lean source of protein and energy. Every part of a whole chicken can be used towards your daily meals – you can even use the bone to make chicken stock.  Some upmarket stores will charge a higher amount for “improved quality”, but as always its up to you. The price of a medium sized chicken is only £3 a kilo.

Ground Beef

In terms of bulking foods, beef is the winner. It’s easy to prepare, doesn’t leave any food wasted and can be bought for a good price. In addition, beef mince has a large number of cooking possibilities. Beef mince will cost around £4 per kilo.

Tuna

Tuna is an excellent lean source of protein. To make things even better, it’s usually a case of opening a tin of tuna and eating it straight from the can. No mess, no fuss. Depending on the type of branding of tuna bought, tuna can be bought for as little as £1.00 per can.

Oats

The key to a perfect breakfast is oats. When added to water or milk, oats blend to make the perfect breakfast. What makes oats even better is the range of foods you can put into a bowl of oats. Common additions include bananas, cinnamon and honey. Oats can be bought at a dirt cheap price. A kilo’s worth will cost about £1. Excellent value.

Oats

Rice

Long grain rice is our carbohydrate of choice, and is a fantastic accompaniment to meat. Rice is one of the best carbs around for digestion, gaining mass and cutting. Rice is best bought in bulk, and will cost around £6 for 5kg of long gain goodness.

And that’s it! Let us know about some of your favourite recipe/bulking choices in the comments below!

 

 

Photo Credit:

http://www.rinzlermeats.com/html/chicken.html

http://test.transformationisbelieving.com/?page_id=1239

http://fillyourplate.org/blog/50-things-oats/