Too often athletes stick to the old muscle building or “hypertrophy” range of 8-12 reps. Unless you are one of the few who knows what percentage they should be training at this often ends up being an ugly 8 reps with too much weight, or an easy 12 reps with a weight you could have done 20 reps with. A lot of progress is potentially being left behind with this approach.
Here is where the high rep method comes in. I have seen progress from performing small exercises in the 15, 20, 30, 40 and even 50 rep range. This is with light weight, but not super light; by the end of each set the target muscles should be burning. Try utilizing this method in any lagging areas where you need to grow new muscle to improve. This approach also works great as a warm-up. Start by performing 100 reps (5 sets of 20 or 4 sets of 25) with a small exercise before going into your main workout. Every week add 20 more reps to the total and soon you’ll be eating up 200 reps for fun before what you even consider your “workout” has started. At this point your warm-up LITERALLY will be someone else’s workout - and whatever areas you’ve targeted will have visibly improved. Here are a few applications:
A volleyball player who needs bigger glutes and hamstrings for lower body stability: 100 band good mornings
A kickboxer who needs more muscle protecting the knee: 100 band Terminal Knee Extensions
A basketball player who needs more bulk in the shoulders: 100 lateral raises
I like the use of bands and cables for these drills to get a consistent resistance through the entire range of motion. Start using high rep entrance sets into your training and watch muscle grow!
Jordan Guilford is a sports performance coach who has worked with national and international level athletes in many sports. He works to make athletes better by optimizing training methods and nutrition through a plant based approach.