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Andreas Bolz

Strength with high-rep/low-weight

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Andreas Bolz

So the best way to train strength is to train with more and more challenging bodyweight exercises or heavy weights. But what happens to max strength and muscle mass if you for example go from 20 to 50 reps in an exercise like Pull ups, Ring Dips or Pistols instead of going to harder variations or put extra weight on. Does your 1RM still increase? I read about this guy doing 163 consecutive full range HSPU, could he have strapped an extra 100 pounds on and still do 50 reps?

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Connor Davies

Strength still increases, but it's not as efficient as training at the lower rep ranges. You really need to take things out to 50+ before you stop seeing ANY increase in strength from adding reps.

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Andreas Bolz

Thanks for the answer.

 

Is there some kind of way to calculate this? There are formulas for predicting 1RMs from 2-20 reps that I found to be pretty accurate, but not for more reps.

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Connor Davies

At this level it's more about how your body adapts to training than any solid principle that can be broadly applied to everyone.

It's not really a good way to train if strength is your goal. To some extent some exercises should be worked in the endurance range, but this isn't with the goal of increasing strength in mind. There are other benefits to high rep exercises.

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Andreas Bolz

What are those benefits?

 

I just thought that if there is a direct link between 20RM and 1RM and you go from 20 to 40 reps, you can do 20 reps with at least 40 pounds of extra weight and therefore your 1RM increases.

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Jesse Frigo

Increased reps build endurance. 

 

Let's take walking as an example.  Some people don't have the strength to walk, due to injury or whatever.  When I broke my kneecap it took everything I had just to get onto the toilet and back into my wheelchair.  The healing process took almost everything my body had (motorcycle accident, and yes, there were some other more minor injuries).

 

As I healed, I transitioned to crutches.  I developed the strength to put weight on my leg.  Then I developed the endurance to walk short distances.  Longer distances (a few dozen yards).  Stairs up and stairs down built some more strength, but only to a limited extent.

 

At this point, walking in my daily activities was not building any more strength.  However, I still lacked the endurance to walk much more than a slow half a mile at a time without taking a rest.  Walking more and walking faster was valuable in that it trained my endurance to walk further with less rest, but it did not actually improve my leg strength in any appreciable form.

 

Even once I started running I plateaued on strength gains quite quickly.  Squatting was the best thing that ever happened to my legs.  I built up to pistol squats, then started barbell squats, eventually doing 1.5xBW for 5 reps.  I don't have knee issues anymore, and I can run fairly quickly these days with no problems. 

 

Training longer means you can increase your training capacity.  Training harder exercises means you can progress to harder variations.  There is some crossover (especially from the second to the first), but it is generally easier to treat them as two separate modalities.

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