We have a guest post from Coach Krista today!
You may have noticed that in general the FITNESS track perform more reps than PERFORMANCE for most strength based exercises.
One reason for this is to allow you to get the right stimulus for your ‘training age’, ie. how long you have been doing consistent strength and conditioning training.
When you are new to strength training, your brain basically can’t turn on/recruit as many muscle fibres, as a more experienced lifter. A novice needs more ‘time under tension’ in a given set to switch on the appropriate muscle fibres AND enough of them to cause a positive adaptation.
An example: Someone with a younger training age may take 8 reps to recruit enough muscle fibres for the desired stimulus, whereas someone that has an older training age may get the same stimulus in 5 reps.
It might seem to make sense to the new lifter, that if all the strong peeps in the room are lifting the big weights for 1-3 reps, that is what they should be doing too.
But even if they try as hard as they can, and even if it seems really heavy, the newer strength athlete simply can't activate enough motor units (a motor neuron and the skeletal muscle fibres innervated by that motor neuron) to lift a heavy enough weight to cause a significant stimulus and thus a significant adaptation. Each repetition 'turns on' more motor units as the muscle fatigues, thus more reps equals more activated motor units.
In a nutshell, the LESS time you’ve been CONSISTENTLY lifting weights, the MORE you will benefit from using higher reps in your strength programming.
As an added bonus of higher rep training, you simply get more practice at the movements, the benefits of which are obvious.
Now, even with a more advanced training age, you can still find benefit with higher rep training.
For example, if you have a job that has you sitting down all day you may need a little more posterior chain work.
If you're looking to gain muscle, the combination of your training age experience, and higher reps, will allow you to stimulate a greater hypertrophic response, ie, get jacked!
If you've had an injury or time off traveling, jumping straight back into heavier loads is not recommended. Another great reason to perform higher rep movements.