So you’ve finally found a fitness routine that works for you, but it’s become a bit too repetitive. In fact, you’re beginning to feel a bit stuck, and no workout should feel like Groundhog Day, right?
The truth is every type of exercise has its purpose within a particular regime. However, we understand the whole ordeal can be a tad frustrating. For that reason, we’ve prepared an outline for all of you who’ve been discouraged by the sheer volume of a certain repetition workout. We’ll go over the science behind reps, their benefits, and ways to optimize them. Let’s get this show on the road!
As you begin to hit the gym, you’ll stumble upon numerous terms, all related to workouts. Let’s outline the holy trinity of basic exercise:
- Repetitions: As their name indicates, reps refer to the number of times you’ll have to perform a particular movement. One repetition can entail a complete movement of an exercise, such as shifting from left to right and vice versa, bending and extending, and raising position and lowering position. Doing a repetition workout the right way is essential for it to be effective.
- Sets: These refer to the number of times one has to perform a specific exercise without taking a break. For instance, if you perform ten crunches at once, that would comprise one set.
- Rest time: Again, this one is pretty self-explanatory. Rest time is essentially the break you take between each set. Since our muscles require a pause between reps, this segment is just as important as the previous ones. However, the length of your rest period will vary depending on the results you’re trying to achieve. Therefore, for strength training, take a break for 3–5 minutes. Meanwhile, building muscle will require 1–2 minutes of rest.
Science Behind Repetitions
You’ve probably heard of the age-old concept propagated by Athenian philosophers — “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” And indeed, there’s a good reason why this practice is crucial for effective learning. According to scientific evidence, repetition is a trigger for memory formation. The more often you do something, the better you’ll remember it.
But that’s not all, at least according to New York University’s Nikolay V. Kukushkin. Namely, he claims that our neurons can also sense the order of repeated experiences and use those findings to distinguish between different patterns. How amazing is that!
However, we’re here to discuss repetition in terms of fitness, so let’s delve into that. Reps of a certain movement will invoke muscle memory. Moreover, some studies indicate that specific combinations of sets and reps stimulate different muscle adaptations. For instance, lighter weights and a more frequent rep workout would help you improve muscle tone. Conversely, heavier weights and fewer repetitions allow you to build muscle.
Benefits of Repetition
Since we’ve gotten the theoretical portion out of the way, let’s focus on some practical advantages of a repetitions fitness regime:
- Mastering basic movements: To start performing more complex routines, like doing a box jump, you’ll need to perfect the basics first. This way, your coordination, power, and balance will become more stable. Remember that muscle memory we mentioned? Well, by doing a movement a certain number of times, we’re creating that mind-body connection, reinforcing the basis of an exercise. So, take note of this little nugget of information the next time you have to do another squat.
- Defining and sculpting: Another benefit of a high repetition workout is that it will boost your strength and muscle mass. This is most obvious when lifting, as you’ll see how much stronger you’ve become compared to when you were just starting.
- Getting better results: Speaking of comparisons, you’ll also notice an increase in the number of reps you can do. Doing specific movement patterns on a regular basis makes you more efficient at performing them, thus helping you train harder and better. In turn, you’ll burn more calories, getting one step closer to your fitness goals. If you notice a certain exercise becoming too easy, feel free to adjust its intensity after consulting your trainer.
How Many Repetitions Should I Do?
Now that you know all the benefits, you’re probably wondering what the optimal number of reps is. The answer depends on the goals you’re trying to achieve. For instance, if you want to work on your overall fitness, you can start with lighter weights and do as many reps as possible without losing form. Then, take a rest and do a few more reps.
Those looking to gain functional strength should focus more on using heavy weights but reduce the number of repetitions. Meanwhile, individuals who want to bulk up should also use heavy weights but do a moderate amount of reps and sets.
As with everything, this will be a journey of trial and error. Even top athletes need to repeat an exercise until they do it just right. So, don’t get discouraged; you’ll be making progress before you know it. And if you need some more solid evidence, you could always invest in an efficient smart body fat scale like Eros. This handy device will help you keep track of 13 key metrics, including BMI and body fat percentage. Even better, it comes with a handy app that you can sync with your Google Fit account.
Reps may have you feeling stuck like Phil did in the town of Punxsutawney, but you’ll get your happy ending as well. All you need to do is trust the process a little bit. As long as you stick to your regime, you start to notice the difference over time. Those weights will be easier to lift, while those squat sets won’t leave you feeling like you’ve run a marathon. As you exercise, you'll see your fitness journey take shape and slowly unfold. You’ll be reaping the rewards of your hard work in no time!
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