We’ve all heard of the ‘perfect rep’... but what does it actually look like? If you are new to strength training it can be a bit of a mind field, as the internet is saturated with different opinions, workout plans and scientific research. This is why we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you achieve your ‘perfect rep’ and hopefully put you on the path towards smashing your fitness goals.
Before we start talking about the in’s and out’s of how many reps or how heavy the weights should be, first we should talk about actually getting the rep correct. I know it sounds simple, but it is easy to perform the exercise incorrectly, which can not only hinder your potential but also cause you an injury.
Tips for great rep form
- Know the rep. Are you fully clear on the exercise you are wanting to do and the muscles it will target? Being prepared is always a must. Why not ask our expert PT’s in club for some tips?
- Start as you mean to go on. This is the prep before you even lift the weight. Ask yourself this- are your feet positioned correctly? Where should your arms be? Don’t fall at the first hurdle.
- Engage the muscle. This is why knowing what exercise targets where is important. Focusing your concentration on the muscle in use rather than the weight will help your form. Feel the burn!
- The countdown begins. Pre-determining your rep’s gives your brain the boost of motivation it needs. Remember, your last rep should look the same as your first, if it doesn’t you're either lifting too heavy or over doing it on the quantity.
I know as a beginner it can be tempting to jump straight into squats when arriving at the gym. However, to ensure you smash the perfect form, try starting off with a single joint exercise. These are reps that only use one joint of motion to achieve, and will make it easier to execute the tips we talked about above.
Examples of Single Joint Exercises:
- Side Lateral Raise
- Leg Curl
- Bicep Curl
Right… so now we’ve covered how to smash that perfect rep. Let's talk about the science behind repping to get those muscle gains!
This is where intensity comes in. A word we hear a lot but are any of us actually clear on what it means for fitness? The intensity of weight training exercises is a combination of both the amount of reps and the weight. It may be obvious that if you lift heavier, the rep count should be less.
As a beginner, it’s a good idea to stick to a lower weight and do more reps. This is to get your nervous system used to firing signals to the muscles and working up to higher weights is a good way to reduce the likelihood of injury. We recommend hitting 12-15 reps per set, and you should try and complete 3 sets of each type of exercise. The final rep should feel really difficult to complete… but remember to ensure it's fully complete, and your form doesn't slip!
There is much more to successful strength training than just the amount of reps and the weight of each. Here are a few more tips and tricks to ensure you are getting the most out of your fitness sessions:
- Frequency… How often are your workout sessions? For beginners it's better to start with little and often. As we mentioned earlier, we are training your nervous system to expect these muscle repetitions. It’s like learning to ice skate… the more you get on the ice, the better you will become.
- Length… It's tempting to jump in at the deep end, but this is a sure fire way to destroy your motivation, and bag yourself a muscle injury in the process. Overdoing it during each workout will cause muscle fatigue and you are likely to start sloppy reps.
- Warm up and cool down… it's great talking about the main event, but it is super important to prepare. Spend 10 minutes doing some gentle cardio (why not try our new Air Assault bikes?) get your heart racing and your muscles warm. Always stretch before and after strength training, it will help reduce your soreness the next morning!
Hopefully we’ve given you some tools to reach your perfect rep… so stay disciplined, don’t overdo it, and if you get stuck ask one of our PT’s for some advice. You’ve got this!