Rep Counting Kilz Gainz
If you are not getting the results you want from the gym, there is a good chance its because you are a rep counter!!! So I am at the “Fitness Park” gym in Marseille France and it hits me – rep counting kilz gainz!! You can immediately tell by glancing at someone if they are a rep counter. By “rep counter” I mean that to them, the only thing that matters is how many reps they do. People who are rep counters will never advance beyond otter mode, if they escape DYEL mode at all.
They often speed thru their set so fast that if you blink, you miss their entire set. Its like they hate the exercise so much that they speed thru it just to get it over with. Or maybe they need to speed thru the set so they can spend more time posing for a selfie titled “Training Hard!” They swing, they cheat, they use their whole bodies, they use micro-ROM – its like a circus. All that matters is that they get their 3 sets of 8 reps. Quite often, but not always, rep counters use WAY more weight than they can control which causes them to need to cheat on every rep, including the first.
How Rep Counting Disease is Spread
To see how we got to this state you only have to look over the shoulder of any trainer giving a client their first training session. What seems to be the trainers primary function? Yep, counting reps. The louder the better. Its like trainers think that they are being hired because their clients dont know how to count. Once people get pushed out of the nest and train on their own, they continue the all important counting and often the training partner assumes the all important role of rep counter.
Rep counters are obsessed with reps. They are the ones on the forums who are always asking “how many reps for mass?”. These people will not give up until you give them some magical number which most places on the internet are quoted as such:
- 6 reps per set to maximize strength
- 8 reps per set to maximize muscle mass
- 10 reps per set to tone
EPIC PILLOW SCREAM!!!!!! If you are focused on number of reps you will never get anywhere if you are a natural lifter. Its form and real strength. By “real strength” I mean how much you can lift without cheating. A great example is barbell curls. A rep counter might be able to do 8 reps of a 80lb bar in about 5 seconds while standing because their form looks like a circus contortionist. Put that same person on the preacher bench with a barbell and they can only do 25 lbs because they are forced to use good form. 25lbs is their “real strength”.
So how many reps for maximum strength?
Any answer you give is wrong! The reason is that you cannot maxmize strength using one number of reps per set!!! Look at any of the respected advanced strength training programs like Candito’s Periodization workout or Wendler 5-3-1. The reps vary from week to week!!!
So how many reps for maximum mass?
The problem is that not only cant you give one single answer but you are asking the wrong question entirely!!! Maximizing muscle mass is not about hitting a certain number of reps. Maximizing muscle mass in my opinion comes from trying to get as strong as possible while maximizing workout volume. Although this would not work well, imagine a strength training program where to every set in the program you add a drop set to bring the rep total for the set to 8 reps. In my opinion, maximizing muscle mass requires a lot more workout volume than strength training. An example of a good workout program to maximize muscle mass is my advanced extreme gym workout.
So how many reps for toning?
PILLOW SCREAM, there is no such thing as “toning”. If you just want to get a little strong (toning) then be one of those incredibly annoying people at the gym whose “set” on a machine lasts 10-15 while they gossip into their speakerphone and do endless reps with the weight pin pulled out so that they are doing nothing other than wasting space in the gym.
So, how much weight should you use?
You can fool your girlfriend and non-lifting buddies with your amazing e-stats on your lifts but your body is not fooled. People who do this often are clueless. They are complaining that they have “bad genetics” because they can curl 100 pounds with stick arms where that guy over in the corner with huge guns can only curl 80. They are completely oblivious to the fact they the guy with huge guns is using strict form with ultra-slow reps while they are using their whole body to swing the bar.
Decide about how many reps you want to do, a range. Choose a weight. Turn on your metronome app on your smart phone with it set to one beat per second. Do each rep with two ticks up (two seconds) two ticks down (two seconds). THAT is good form. If you cant hit your rep range then you are using too much weight. If you just stop out of boredom because you hit the top of your rep range then you need more weight. Warning, DO NOT COUNT, use the metronome as even when people use the “one one thousand, two one thousand” method they still count way too fast.
Building a huge chest
You do not build pecs like these by counting reps! If nothing I have said here is making sense, please try reading “10 secrets for building huge pecs” because its the same basic thing. If I know anything, I know my chest workouts and how to optimize them. A big part of that is first, to stop worshipping the bench press, and second, to keep mixing things up. My live workout at SFO (below) is a great example. After doing a few rounds of my rotisserie core workout I did about 45 minutes of pushups and its two days later and my pecs are still so sore that pec bouncing hurts. I have NO idea how many sets of pushups I did nor do I have any idea how many reps I did. What I DO know is that each rep was flawless and every set was done to failure.