Have you ever tried to learn a new language? If you have you know how hard it can be and how overwhelming it may be at times. I remember taking Spanish all through middle school and high school and the thing I remember most was how confusing English can be and how it makes no sense.
The reason I’m talking about different languages is because for most people looking at an exercise program can be like trying to read a different language. All you really see is a bunch on numbers words and boxes none of which really seem to make sense.
I have some good news for you though. Here at Core Principles ever number, word, exercise etc. have a rhyme and reason behind it and I am here to today to try to better explain that to you and how it is important in your daily life.
If you remember back to one of my old blog posts I broke down each section of a program and how to chose exercises for each section. Starting with the warm up, then power, strength, accessory, and conditioning. For the purpose of this blog we are not going to talk about the warm up and skip to the rest of the workout.
For the power section we keep the reps somewhere between 5 and 8. The reason for that is because during the power section we want to move whatever we are moving fast whether it be a medicine ball, your body or some weight. What we are trying to train here is your nervous system to be able to send signals quick and your muscle be able to contract quick. To explain why power is important we are going to use an analogy of doing yard work. Let’s say you are cleaning up your backyard and there are some rocks you are trying to get rid of. You also asked a buddy to help you but unfortunately this buddy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed so when he is removing the rocks he decides to throw a couple at you. You need to be powerful to be able to react quickly and move out of the way. Luckily after a few attempts your friend realizes he should stop. Any more and unfortunately you would start to lose some power and your friend might knock you out.
Next we are onto our strength section. This is where things may become a little more confusing because things can vary. The rep range in the strength section can vary quite a bit. Sometimes you may be only lifting something 4 times sometimes it’s 8 even up to 10. If you are looking to train maximal strength you should try to keep the reps under 6 and the weight pretty heavy. If you want to train a little more strength endurance the reps may be closer towards the other end. Let’s go back to the yard work example. Let’s say you have one 50lbs bag of mulch you need to pick up and move your going to need to use all of your strength to move that but then your probably can take a little break and rest because you only had one bag to move. Now let’s say you have five 25lbs bags to move. You still need to be strong enough to pick up that 25lbs but you also need to have the endurance to move a few bags.
Here in the accessory section we have a lot of room to do different things based on what your goals are. However for the most part the reps in the accessory section will be a little higher, somewhere between 10-15. The goals for this section are to work on building muscle and some muscle endurance. Again going back to the yard work analogy this section will help build the endurance to finish all of the work but to also have some great looking muscles so you can show off your body in that tank top outside.
In the conditioning section we want to keep the reps higher and minimize rest periods and have a few exercises back to back. The goal here is to get your heart working and get a good sweat in. Thinking back to your yard work the reason for this is so that you can finish all of your yard work in a few hours because you have so much energy. That way you can sit on your deck with a drink in hand and relax at night since all of the work is done.
I hope by the end of this blog you can start to understand why each section varies a little bit in the amount of sets and repetitions we do. More importantly though how using different sets and repetitions trains different things and how that can be helpful to you in your real life.
– Coach Pat