The rep is the centerpiece of your entire workout. No matter how much you prepare, practice, and discuss your fitness goals, it all comes down to that single individual rep. This is the moment of truth. For me, the rep is the most exciting part of my entire exercise regimen. Because in that brief moment, I get to see how far I’ve come, and how far I still have to go. I get to feel, in my muscles and bones, exactly how strong I am. How much can I lift? How high can I jump? How long can I hold? All of these questions are answered every time I attack the next rep.
Now there are many different reasons to do more or less reps for any given exercise. The common wisdom around the gym is that a lower number of reps at higher weight is the formula for building muscle mass, while more reps at lower weight is great for fat burning and building endurance. A lot of seasoned gym rats like to start with a multi-month period of bulking up, by lifting weights so heavy they can only complete five to six reps before they fail. Then, once they’ve made the gains, they’ll switch over to high-intensity, fast-paced circuit training with much lower weight, and reps that get as high as a hundred for any given exercise. Of course, you ultimately have to listen to your own body and modify every workout for how you feel on any given day.
But the point is this – the actual moment of the rep is where all the magic happens. When you lift that barbell, or perform that crunch, or drop into that squat, you are igniting transformation, whether you are trying to get bigger, get cut, or drop some pounds. So it is of the utmost importance that you approach each and every rep accordingly. Each rep is a chance to go further, higher, and stronger than ever before. What’s a great way to keep this in mind while working out? Try to find what I call the “rhythm of the rep.” It’s as simple as tapping the beat to your favorite song. You simply set a pace for each exercise and count off each rep in time with a steady, continuous beat. It doesn’t matter if you are working out fast or slow, just stay consistent with your timing. No long pauses in the middle of a set allowed. This will help you to deliver maximum, consistent effort at the beginning, middle, and end of each set.
Here’s another amazing trick for getting the most out of each rep. All you need is an O2 Trainer and a plan. I bring one of these amazing little devices to every workout because I love the extra challenge. They’ve been shown to improve the volume of air you can ventilate, and increase red cell volume. Now, they’ll simultaneously help you maximize your efforts on every rep.
On each powerful inhale, you’ll be conditioning your lungs with the O2 Trainer’s built-in invevtilatory muscle-training resistance. Then, on each exhale, breathe out with a strong “shhh” sound. The idea is to use the sound of your own breathing to help you keep the rhythm as you blast through your reps. I like to let the exhale power the work of each rep, as in lifting from the floor into a push-up on an exhale. But that’s up to you. Just stay in rhythm, and never give up until you’ve finished your set or your muscles fail, whichever comes first.
It doesn’t matter where you’re working out or what kind of training you’re doing. High rep and low rep sets each have their place in every fitness plan. Just challenge yourself to really go for it with every single rep, every single time. That’s a recipe for the ultimate workout.