Variety is always needed when life turns into a routine and become monotonous. The same applies to training. In fact, it can be one of the key precursors to building muscle mass. Variety in this context doesn’t necessarily mean selection of different exercises. You may have tried switching exercises before when working a specific muscle area, but have you ever tried to dramatically decrease the repetitions in one set?
The high-to-low training method is one for rep number combining, alternating between low and high rep ranges, from one workout to another, from one exercise to the next and sometimes from one set to the next.
Getting out of the usual rep range
Endless studies have proven that the now-famous so-called “bodybuilding rep range” of 8-12 reps is optimal for eliciting optimal muscle gains, but is far from the only method for muscle growth. As a matter of a fact, if you keep doing it for a prolonged period of time, muscle gains will slowly reach a plateau. Your muscle will eventually stop responding to the same stimulus over and over again. Plus, alternating high and low reps has its advantages as well. High reps increase blood vessels’ size and overall stamina.
Low reps are excellent for building strength. Both types can elicit muscle growth. The best tactic you can employ is to do a mix of both. High-low training will ditch the middle rep range, only temporarily and will only focus on the high rep range of 12-20 reps and the low range of 1 -6 reps. Now, let’s delve into the three different ways in which you can include the high-low training method in your workout program.
1. From one workout to another
Of the three different ways, this is the easiest to incorporate if you are first starting out with this type of training. Do one body part workout consisting of high rep exercises and then in the next one do all exercises in the low rep ranges for the same body part. If you train more body parts in the same workout, you can also try training each with alternating rep ranges.
As an example, if you train your chest before training triceps, do the chest exercises in the low rep range and the triceps exercises in the high rep range and in the next workout switch them up. Incorporating the high-low training in this manner will deny the concept of “muscle confusion” to take effect, which is what you get when you train your muscles with different rep ranges in the same workout session. But, it will allow you to focus on one rep range at a time a lot better.
2. From one exercise to the next
The second way to incorporate high-low training is to do all the sets of one exercise in the high rep range and then do the sets of the next exercise in the low rep range. Do the same switching between each pair of exercises within the same workout, going from a powered state to a pumped state.
It is better if you do the low reps on big compound movements that will allow you to put the most plates like a deadlift and high reps on the isolation/assistance exercise, which won’t have much an effect if done with low reps, like biceps curls. It is almost always better to start the workout with high-rep sets because this will serve as a warm-up. You can start low as well provided that you got warmed up properly first.
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