Q: “Should I be doing Low reps or high reps to get leaner?”
This is one of the most asked questions I get as a trainer, and one that needs some immediate attention! There is a principle commonly used amongst trainers, and it’s called the “SAID” principle. This acronym stands for “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand” Simply put, your body will adapt in a specific way based upon the demands you place upon your body. For example: If you want to be a faster runner, you must practice running form and technique. Similarly, performing lat pull downs does not necessarily make you great at pull-ups even though the two exercises primarily work the same muscles. Resistance training only affects the muscles of the body and does not expedite fat loss in a particular area of the body. Now let’s examine the high rep or low rep theory in more detail. Higher repetition ranges are typically performed with a lower weight, around 15-25 reps. If you are an endurance athlete who needs more endurance, or just beginning a workout program, you should perform repetitions in this range. Lower rep ranges, which are typically performed with heavier weight, are a great way to increase muscular strength and size. These rep ranges are generally 6-12 reps and are for anyone who wants to add lots of lean muscle. Your body will either get good at pushing lighter weight for more reps, or stronger by doing heavier weight for lower reps. When I trained for a bodybuilding competition, my rep ranges remained around 6-8 repetitions through my “in season phase”. During this phase, my body fat percentage goes from 15% to around 5%. So, how am I able to get so lean while performing so few reps? The answer is DIET! Whether you perform high repetitions or low repetitions, neither has a direct correlation with fat loss. Fat loss comes from your body being in a calorie deficit, which forces your body to utilize fat for energy. So, for all of those meatheads who love pounding the heavy weights in the gym, keep it up. If you are one of those people who prefer to lift lighter weights, then have at it. Just know from this day forward, getting a leaner look will not come from performing a certain number of reps but by maintaining an energy/ caloric deficit over time!