211019 Strength, Speed, Sets, and Repetitions

211019 Strength, Speed, Sets, and Repetitions

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS

Strength has a direct and very distinct role in the development of speed and explosiveness. This relationship enables greater weight to be lifted which in turn brings with it the concomitant and potentially uninterrupted rise in the total at the end of the macrocycle. However, (and this is a big deal) constantly hammering away with the big weights, i.e. those is excess of 95% or those at the 40-50% levels of intensity will lead to a fixation similar to the speed barrier experienced by sprinters who are pushed to fast and too soon in their careers. In both instances, lifting constantly in these ranges will hamper the growth process.

The number of repetitions per set has a profound effect on the outcome of the program. Increases in strength result from loads of 85-95% intensity that are performed with brief efforts at maximum speeds of 1-3 reps per set. These reps do not create a hypertrophic effect on the muscles but do help the neuromuscular coordination pathways to become more efficient.

An expanded repetition scheme that is performed with multiple sets will enlarge the muscle tissues. Reps in the 4-6 ranges will increase the muscle mass while at the same time the increase in strength is only slightly less than that seen in the 1-3 bracket. At 7-10 the mass is increased but the strength gains are lower than those seen in the 4-6 ranges. Essentially the strength gains begin to drop off and the muscle mass increases as the repetitions go higher.

Beginners goals should be that of adding muscle mass and increasing the strength of their motor unit recruitment capabilities. In this case, the use of small and medium weights performed for multiple repetitions of 3-6 per set and accessory exercises done for up to 10 reps per set are ideal (this is contrary to the muscle ragmags). Setting up a program for new lifters requires knowledge of how the body responds to the stimuli of resistance training.

It has been found that if a person is able to lift a weight twelve times the best sets will be with multiple sets of 4-6 repetitions with that particular weight. Maximum reps cause maximum fatigue which accumulates and leads to loss of being able to train at a sufficient volume, injury and eventually less training time.

Experienced lifters have to increase the intensity of their workouts in order to make progress. This is accomplished by utilizing the maximum effort percentages for multiple sets of brief 1-3 rep sets. Frequent use of this rep/set scheme is advisable for these lifters.

In each instance a periodic return to a myofibrillar hypertrophy phase of lifting is advisable in the continuing effort to keep muscle mass at its peak.

Finally, special one repetition workouts that develop technique and speed are necessary each day to concentrate the neuromuscular system on the lift so this ability is not lost as the training continues.