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High Reps for Growth

RazorCuts

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High Reps for Growth
by Chris Cormier - 1995



Most bodybuilders will tell you that you can't get big without getting strong. If you've been at this sport for any length of time,, you've probably already learned that to get stronger and make your muscles grow, you need to lift within a rep range of 6-10. Most training articles advise you to stick with these low-rep parameters.

I'm here to tell you that the low-rep system is only second best -- at least as far as leg training is concerned. You may already be using high-rep sets to train your calves, which is an endurance muscle group that actually receives a stimulus each time you take a step. Such endurance muscles respond will to high-rep training because you're training them in a way that they were meant to be trained.

The fact is, you can train legs very heavy at low-rep ranges and make considerable progress. I did for a long time during my days as an amateur. When I was 19, I put six wheels on each side of the squat bar. In what must have been a twist of fate, I suffered an injury that changed the way I trained legs - in the long run, for the better.

One day while squatting with a relatively light weight (315 pounds), I turned just slightly to talk to someone with the bar across my shoulders; the next thing I knew, I was on my back. I felt a jolt - a pinched nerve. Instinctively, I re-racked the weight before falling to the floor, but I was unable to get up for about two hours. Though the injury was never diagnosed, it left a permanent mark: I could no longer squat in the manner I was used to without severe repercussions.

Though squatting had been my bread-and-butter leg exercise, I was forced to find an alternative that was equally effective. The movement I chose was the leg press.

The leg press may not be quite as effective as the squat in terms of overall quad development, but I can't argue with he results I've experienced from using it. More important the movement itself was how I combined dong the exercise with a new training style - which brings me back to my injury.

The simple answer to my injury was to use high reps in my leg training - much higher than most people traditionally use for muscle building. No longer did I do sets of 4 to 10 reps, but rather, I pushed through 20 reps! Even though my ego occasionally craved super heavy weights, I actually found that I was growing at a far faster rate on higher reps -- so much so that legs are now my number-one bodypart.

While some people might cut the weight stack in half in order to complete twice the reps, I pushed myself -- enduring both physical and mental torture -- to get my weights high too. How high? Turn the page if you can blow out 20 reps with 1,350 pounds. That type of training will definitely breathe fire into your quads.

How can you achieve your own heavy-weight, high-rep sets? First, attend to the physical component by warming up. With leg extensions, for instance, warm up by doing 15 reps with about 50 pounds (or whatever your warm-up weight is) for five sets. Then move on to the leg press. Start off with a couple of plates on each side of the machine for 20 reps, and add another plate on each side for every set (about five to seven total) thereafter. If you can do 15 reps with a weight, then you can do 20, but it's best to have a spotter there to keep you moving. Add just a little more weight every workout while keeping the reps high.

Getting the muscles to do the work is hard enough, but the most difficult aspect is actually mental: the attitude that it takes to get those last few reps. That's a champion's greatest skill, not devising some special combination of movements but perfecting mental toughness. A champion knows what he wants, knows what he needs to do and what it takes to get it. He wants it bad enough to work through the pain.

Work on your mental approach. Keep at it. Train with others who understand its importance. A good training partner will keep you focused when you want to quit.

One last point on the leg press: I often see people doing the movement with their legs way out on the platform or alternating foot positions (ditto for calf exercises). I prefer to keep my feet shoulder-width apart, pointing directly forward or just slightly outward. I don't think legs ware meant to do exercises with an exaggerated stance. Use a screwy stance while moving a ton of weight, and you're just begging for an injury.

There you have it: a leg-training formula that abandons the traditional school of thought on using heavy weights and low reps to build muscle. I discovered the routine quite literally by accident -- but you don't need to, because here it is.
 
E

edge250

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great article, and i totally agree with higher reps on legs, as you know razor i adapted this to the uht program and used 12-15 reps instead of the 6-10 for my 3 sets, whats funny is my calves respond better to low reps. shame cormier cant get it together, such a great bodybuilder. heard he is over in england at dorian's temple gym training with yates himself. hopefully being away from LA and all that it brings in that environment he will once again chase the top guys
 

mike1107

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yep it's well known that legs answer vcery good to high rep range (15-20)

i guess it's because we walk all day and that number of type I fiber must be great in legs
 
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edge250

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mike your legs are amazing, what kind of workouts do you do. i'm sure its largely genetic but always interesting to hear what guys are doing?
 

bulldog21

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mike1107 said:
yep it's well known that legs answer vcery good to high rep range (15-20)

i guess it's because we walk all day and that number of type I fiber must be great in legs

I completley agree with you Mike, I stay in a high rep range for most of my leg movements 10-20 and use a lower rep schemes on some compound movements such as squats like when I use Razor's UHT program doing 4-6 reps on the last set....

Oh and you look awsome Mike1107 and you are going to win featured memeber as you should as you deserve it bro!

Edge250 you will get it next time as I will keep voting for you! :p :D :)
 

RazorCuts

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Back in the golden era most did use high rep training for legs. The 20 rep squat was very popular back then. If you look at most of the champs back then thier routines were mostly higher reps for legs.
Even Arthur Jones recommended higher reps for leg movements.
I think high and low reps both have there place in leg training.

RC
 

bigdan

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i went to higher reps to ease stress on the joints and started growing. i was doing set of 20 on upper and lower body. i have dropped to 10-15 upper but still do 20 on legs but i do a few set of no less than 10
 

mike1107

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bulldog21 said:
I completley agree with you Mike, I stay in a high rep range for most of my leg movements 10-20 and use a lower rep schemes on some compound movements such as squats like when I use Razor's UHT program doing 4-6 reps on the last set....

Oh and you look awsome Mike1107 and you are going to win featured memeber as you should as you deserve it bro!

Edge250 you will get it next time as I will keep voting for you! :p :D :)

thanks buddy but I think you deserve it as much as I do !!
 
E

edge250

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bulldog.......you deserve it before me.......you got the great hair thing going for ya, gives ya the advantage, lol
 

bulldog21

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edge250 said:
bulldog.......you deserve it before me.......you got the great hair thing going for ya, gives ya the advantage, lol

LOL, thank man but if I diet this hard again for a show I am gonna pull it all out! :p :D
 

brisk walk

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yes indeed...... 10-12 upper body exercises and 15-20 lower body exercises.

Higher reps will shock your system and get you growing again. IMHO
 

bloodshed

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that is a good article. i personally like to vary it though. theres some days where i'll do a timed run of squats and do 135 for 2-4 minutes, or ill do a set of 20 with 365 or so, or ill do my sets of 5-8 reps with 405+(im not as strong as some of you in here) so i couldnt tell you what exactly is causing my legs to grow at the rate they do, but a mixture of all of that is definitely doing something. if only the rest of my body grew as fast...
 

brisk walk

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Yes indeed......

the higher reps on legs are sensational for getting the quads to GROW!!!!!
 

Athlete

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Dante does this with his "widowmaker". really works wonders for your legs.
 

bodyform88

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good post.im goin to try higher reps with legs...except not on squats...but im going to keep all my other muscle groups in heavy weight low reps
 

The Booger

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How many sets are you guys doing? I want to give this high rep thing a shot.

Also, on your last set, should you really be busting your ass the last couple reps or just have it be "tough" to get the last reps?

I'm used to 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps for all body parts. Then again I was training for strength THEN mass. Now I'm mainly mass and if I get a good strength increase, that's just a pure bonus.
 

RazorCuts

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Your best bet is to use UHT for all body parts. This routine has proven over and over again to build more muscle using different rep ranges and stretch overload. This will cause hypertrophy and hyperplasia.
 

Downtowncb84

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If you think 20 rep sets for legs work, try 30 rep sets for shoulders. You cant do it for to long but 3 weeks on 3 weeks off will really speed up delt developement, you may get a lil pale during the workout but you just got to take a minute, recollect and hit it again.
 

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