So you’re approaching the end of a THT cycle and you are beginning to plateau on a few lifts.
You decide to drop the rep range to 4-6 reps to failure to help BLAST through it as recommended.
Why not all the way down to 2 reps?
Why can’t you stimulate all the growth you want by lifting 2 reps to failure, or even just your 1 Rep Max?
For sure, the muscular contractions of these lifts are INTENSE – I’ll give you that.
But when training specifically for larger muscles, there is another major consideration to be taken into account.
But firstly, would a 2-rep-set recruit all muscle fibers? Yes it would.
The load is heavy enough to signal the brain to say, “Hey, I need all available fibers contributing to this lift”. That’s good.
NOTE: For your information, the load you lift needs to be over around 60% of your 1 rep max weight to force all the fibers to come into play. Obviously then, lifting 1 or 2 reps to failure fulfils this requirement.
But I said there was another factor. This is “Rate Coding“.
When reaching failure in a higher rep range, the muscle fibers will really start to fatigue in those last few reps, it is then that rate coding increases to help you keep producing the necessary force.
“Rate coding” is simply the FREQUENCY of the signal that is sent to the motor units to contract. Increased coding means a higher frequency of signals. A higher frequency allows the muscle to generate more force. Simple.
Training at very low rep ranges, or a very low ‘Time Under Load’, doesn’t give this a chance to happen.
On the other end of the spectrum, training below 60% of your 1 rep max, which is usually greater than 15-reps-to-failure-per-set, won’t recruit your much needed fast-twitch “growth fibers” until the very end, perhaps just for a few seconds.
This type of work is more of an endurance or metabolic fatigue-type workout. It has its place, but shouldn’t play a major role in a hypertrophy-specific program like THT.
For more on rep ranges you may want to check out my article, “How many reps to build muscle?“.
Take Care & Train with INTENSITY!