Often times I find clients getting stressed over the number of reps, aka repetitions or sets, aka the number of rounds of a circuit, they need to do. They wonder is 12 enough, should they be doing 10 or 15?! Today I am going to let you in on a little secret...it really does not matter!! To a point. What is important, is your time under tension, a fancy way of saying, what really matters is how long you are working. For relative strength, i.e strength that does not increase muscle size, but allows the muscle to get stronger, you need to be working for about 20s and aiming for heavier loads, about 80% or more of your maximum. This means that technically, whether you do 1 repetition that lasts 20s; i.e 10s down on a squat and 10s up, or you do 5 reps where each repetition takes 4s to complete; 2s down, 2s up. You are working towards the same goals, the strength effect is similar.
The important number here, is that 80% of your maximum, not whether you are lifting it 1 or 5 times per set. Once you are hitting the range of 20s for time under tension, the most important thing to get right is the percentage of your maximum effort.
So why then for weight loss do coaches the world over recommend low weight and high reps...well simply thats a load of bull, sorry to burst that particular bubble for you. Yes, lower weight will allow you to do more repetitions, but the question I always ask, is are you hitting the correct percentage. In order to cause hypertrophy, i.e increase muscle, and before we start panicking, getting images of bulky, masculine, female bodybuilders, lets just take a beat and remember; lifting does not make you bulky, eating cupcakes or other excessive junk, will. Let me put it into perspective, the average guy that wants to bulk up, normally needs to hit around 3000 calories (conservatively) AND weight train heavily, to gain a mere 2kg of muscle mass per month. Thanks to testosterone, men tend to have bigger muscles and less body fat. However, even with 32x more testosterone than the average woman, they STILL have to work their butt off to gain muscle.
When we as women lift regularly, we work within our tension timing range for hypertrophy, around 40s btw, we eat a well balanced diet that feed our needs for daily life and exercise, what we get is; lower body fat and that "toned" look we crave so much.
This is not always so apparent at the start, as the weight may not always drop, as we exercise and gain muscle, which is why I always request pictures or measurements for clients. Which brings us to the age old question...is muscle heavier than fat? That however, is Wednesday's
question and blog, so tune in then and checkout shardefitness on youtube in the meantime. Hit the subscribe button and stay up to date with some of the latest workouts.