1-3 Reps for Strength Training

If you are into bodybuilding, then the chances are you’ve never used rep ranges of 1-3, and for all intents and purposes, for sheer size, they would be almost worthless to you. Rep ranges of 1-3 may add a modicum of size (after a long period of using them), but really, they are for pure strength training. Some may say, extreme strength training.

The thing about extreme strength training is, it’s short lived. You give out a maximal effort, and within a few short reps your muscles give out. It has very little use in the way of practical strength which may be useful for sport or whatever. Usually, strength training for sports requires more reps, usually around 5-6 for best results.

Like the old adage says, ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten.’

In other words, if you continue training with 1-3 reps, you’ll only get better at 1-3 reps, and it will have very little carryover to other rep ranges. And the same holds true for higher reps, they will have very little influence on how much you can lift in lower rep ranges.

Low reps work for strength because we have different types of muscle fibres - a whole range of them actually, ranging from very slow twitch to very fast twitch. Very slow twitch fibres (which make up the vast bulk of our muscles) handle the tasks of endurance, while the small amounts of very fast twitch handle the explosive lifts.

When we perform endurance tasks, we are recruiting and using the abundant amounts of endurance (slow twitch) muscles we have. When we switch our training to explosive training (which is definitely what 1-3 reps is) then we are in need of muscle fibres capable of providing short-lived, but explosive power. This is why those who train for strength always use reps of 6 and less, all the way down to 1. That way, the repetitions cover the whole range of explosive fibres.

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