Muscle Sport Magazine

Reps: It’s the Last Few That Make You Grow

Dave Jackson

The way to know if you’re finding a volume that works for you is, of course, listen to your body. If you do three sets and you end up feeling like you can’t do those same reps anymore, your body is telling you something. Low volume may be for you. Some people, instead, find themselves getting stronger and stronger as the sets go on and still feel energized and able to pump out more sets. When you tell yourself “I feel like I’m doing too much,” you are. That’s your cut-off point.


Think of a pitcher; he may be unstoppable for 80 or so pitches, and after that, batters start hitting off of him. He hit his limit.


I’d say 75% of people respond better to volume and only 25% are made for heavy weight and low rep. Guys who have naturally heavy muscle–not bulky guys full of fat–but guys with just natural muscle, they seem to be more of the low volume/intensity guys.


Rep Schemes


Make the muscle do the work. Some times you’ll get 10-12 reps with a weight and the next time you try, maybe you’ll only get eight. Drop the weight and get the reps, make the muscle do the work.


There is a certain relation to muscle size and strength, but it’s not what most people think. Bodybuilders have extremely larger amounts of muscle than power lifters, but power lifters can outlift them in one-rep maxes time and time again.


If you look at a 200-pound power lifter, he might look like an athletic guy, but he doesn’t look massive. But if you see a 200 pound bodybuilder, you’re going to look at a guy with an impressive physique. Try to get 10 but don’t go above 14 for actual working sets. For a warm-up, do it until it burns. And remember, every body part counts. No muscle is more important than another; give every muscle love, but certain body parts deserve a little more work. Which ones? Only you know.


I did an interview with Leon Brown when he was 62 years old. When I got into the gym, he was doing chest and even at his age, it was impressive. His girlfriend told me he just finished chest and that he had finished it for the fourth day in a row. He still trains old school – three times a week – but sometimes he feels a part may deserve a little more work. So this time, he decided he needed to work his chest a few days in a row. That was what he needed, and he knows his body, so he did it.


Excerpt from “Essentials of Bodybuilding”by Gregg Valentino with Nathan Jendrick


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