The Dangers of High Rep Workouts for Athletes
The Dangers of High Rep Workouts for Athletes
Your favorite fitness magazine says high rep workouts will get you toned, but is it the most effective form of strength training?
To supplement all of the on-field training you’re doing, chances are you’re also putting in workouts at the gym to increase your muscle strength, quickness, and power. Maybe you’re even following a 1R workout routine.
But, are you making one vital mistake that could be costing you results? High rep training is one trap many athletes fall into, thinking, unfortunately, that it will help enhance their muscular endurance and prevent fatigue. Is that really the case?
Recent studies have shown high rep training can actually be very detrimental to athletes. Let’s take a closer look then at why you may need to restructure your workouts rep ranges to optimize your sports performance.
High Rep Training And Strength Gains
The first reason high rep training isn’t the most beneficial approach for an athlete is because it’s simply not conducive to gaining lean muscle mass. Even if you’re playing a more endurance-based sport, having strength and power derived from lifting heavy weights in low rep ranges will be highly beneficial. If you’re looking to train for endurance, do so in the mode of exercise you’ll be performing on the field, not in the weight room.
Why? Because the primary goal of weight lifting, at least for an athlete, is to increase muscle strength (and in some cases mass) and high rep training simply will not do this. If you’re performing high rep training in the gym, you’d be better off putting your training efforts into running sprints or perfecting your vertical jump. Using such a light weight to get into the 20+ rep range for weight lifting is simply not going to provide the stimulation needed for real progress.
High Rep Training And Muscle Glycogen Depletion
The bigger issue with high rep training for an athlete’s is that it depletes a large amount of muscle glycogen. Your muscle glycogen is essentially what fuels every intense muscle contraction that takes place in your body. Unless you’re eating an extremely high carbohydrate diet all day, every day, high rep training could cause this muscle glycogen storage to decrease significantly. When that happens, your performance on the field will also decrease.
Obviously nutrition practices will influence the extent of the decrease (as a high protein/carb shake after lifts can help reverse this process), but constant high rep training could prove to be problematic if you’re doing it frequently enough. And should you become glycogen depleted and you continue to perform your gym or sport training sessions, you’re running a high risk of lean muscle mass loss as the body will have to use that muscle tissue as an alternate fuel source.
High Rep Training and Repetitive Wear And Tear
High rep training also causes a high amount of wear and tear on the ligaments surrounding the muscles and joints. Since you’re likely to already be placing quite a bit of stress on these ligaments through your regular athletic training, you don’t want the stress from high volume workouts to be heaped on top. By keeping the reps lower and the volume under control, you can see superior strength benefits without adding to the wear on those connective tissues.
Sure it’s true heavy weight lifting will stress the joints to a larger extent, but provided you’re using proper form and listening to your body, this generally doesn’t prove to be a problem for most healthy athletes. Be smart, besafe, and you’ll reap much more benfits through strength training with lower reps than you ever will following the 3 sets of 20 that muscle magazine is telling you to do.
To maximize your gains using a low rep, heavy weight approach 1R would recommend the following supplements:
- Cytosport Creatine - By increasing your body's ATP production creatine will help you become more explosive, more powerful, and more athletic when taken before or after lifts
- Optimum Nutrition 2:1:1 Recovery - The carbs and protein will help you recover and build lean muscle faster after tough workouts
- Cytosport Joint Matrix – When you’re training hard, and/or training heavy, your joints inevitably take a beating. Joint matrix will ensure that you don’t feel that beating the next day.
About the Author
Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now. She currently works with a variety of different clients with various goal sets, helping them reach whatever physique goals they have set for themselves. Shannon is a regular contributor to Bodybuilding.com and has also been named ‘Writer Of The Year’ two times running. She has been featured in the Iron Man magazine and has contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance.For more information on Shannon, please see her website, www.ShannonClarkFitness.com
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