How to Perform Reps for Most Muscle Growth

How to Perform Reps for Most Muscle Growth
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    JESSE: You know, one of the best things that Jeff's taught me since I've been working
    for him has been, it's not just the exercises you choose, but it's how you do them. [mechanical
    JEFF: Jesse! Whoa! Whoa!
    JESSE: What's up?
    JEFF: What are you doing?
    JESSE: All right. So, remember when you told me that it's not just doing the exercises,
    it's about how you do them? Going from point A to point B?
    JEFF: Yeah.
    JESSE: Well, dude. You were 100% right. For example: take the robot curl.
    JEFF: That's a good exercise. It works your biceps and-
    JESSE: Yeah, but the problem is, if I do it like this…I don't feel anything. Literally,
    nothing. However, when I become the robot – ready?
    [mechanical noises] Biceps. [mechanical noises] Forearms. [mechanical noises] Biceps and forearms.
    Dude! It's incredible! You've got to be the robot to feel the robot curl. [mechanical
    JEFF: Okay. Someone's got to turn you off, man. Can I take these? Thanks, man.
    JESSE: System failure. [power down noise] You know, I just wish you'd try it. Without
    noise, with noise. Without noise, with noise.
    JEFF: What's up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere,
    JEFF: Today I want to try and help you determine how you should be performing your reps on
    whatever exercise you're performing. It's a big question.
    There are a lot of different ways we could lift a weight. We could just get it from A
    to Z. We could try to get it from A to Z focusing on a lot of details. We could push it fast.
    We could push it slow. Speed matters.
    All this stuff, guys, we know we need to focus on it. But what's the right answer? I have
    to answer that by first asking you a question. That question is: what are you training for?
    Because if you're training for strength or hypertrophy the answer could be different.
    If you're training for strength there's one thing you should always be seeking. The
    first thing you should be seeking is efficiency.
    What I mean by that is, you want to try – let's say you're doing a bench-press. We realize
    that the bench-press is going to recruit our chest, our shoulders, our triceps. We're
    not trying to isolate on a bench-press if we're trying to improve strength.
    We're trying to get those muscles to perform the work together. I'm not trying to, in
    this instance, say "Hey, get those shoulders back" – yes, to protect the shoulder,
    but not for the sake of trying to get the chest to drive the momentum.
    Really, really squeeze. Get that hard contraction the chest as much as you can, squeeze your
    hands together at the top. No, it's about moving the bar and maintaining a proper bar
    speed because it matters.
    Actually, moving with a velocity so you can increase your power as well, because we know
    strength and power go hand in hand. So, it's not about being specific about trying to isolate
    a muscle.
    However, if you're trying to train for hypertrophy – meaning, increase the size of a muscle
    – you should not be looking for efficiency, but inefficiency. How can you introduce new
    ways to make a rep harder?
    The more we can do that, the more stress we can deliver to a muscle and therefore, help
    it to feel more overload, and adapt in response by growing bigger. So, we have to look at
    a few different scenarios.
    I'm going to use a lat pulldown here and we're going to take a few examples where
    we train to a certain rep range for failure. We already know that training to failure is
    not always essential. Especially depending upon the volume of your training.
    But to make this example very easy to understand we're going to say, 'train to failure'.
    The first example would be, let's say I'm using a rep range of – I'll actually write
    it down here – let's say I'm training with my 10-rep max on a lat pulldown and I'm
    going to fail at 10.
    But in this one here, I'm taking a similar approach to the one when I was training for
    strength, and I'm just worried about going from A to Z. Moving the bar from A to Z here.
    That's the first scenario. The second scenario is, I use a little bit lighter weight.
    Not much. Let's say 12, 13 rep max and I'm training to 10 rep max failure. 10 rep failure.
    So, in these two scenarios – in this one here I'm really trying to be focused on
    increasing tension in a specific area of that lift.
    So, if I'm trying to grow my lats from an underhand lat pulldown I'm really trying
    to squeeze. So, let's take a look at what these look like. If I'm doing the first
    example here and I go to pull down, I realize I have the biceps as my friends here.
    I realize that I have my upper back as my friend. I realize that I have my lats as a
    friend. I realize that what I'm trying to do is get this bar down to my chest as efficiently
    as I can, with multiple muscles participating. That's scenario one.
    What happens is, when I get around rep number 10, I'm trying to pull and I can't get
    anymore because I've fatigued the overall movement. Not necessarily one, specific muscle
    that participates in that movement. That's scenario one. Scenario two is this one here.
    Where I'm like "Now I've got to lighten this one up a little bit because what I'm
    going to do is, I'm going to focus on making this much more of an inefficient movement."
    For my lats, specifically. So, I don't want an overactivation and contribution from my
    forearms trying to achieve this.
    I don't want my biceps pulling too much here. I want to get my elbows down into my
    sides, adducted hard, and back into extension so I can maximally activate the lats. So,
    it looks more like this. I come down, squeeze, I hang out there for a second, I come up a
    little bit slower for the eccentric.
    I'm down, squeeze, and come up, squeeze, and come up. Squeeze and come up. Squeeze
    and come up. So, let's say on the last rep I fail at 10. That is a weight that I can
    normally handle if I didn't do all those extra things for a few more reps. 12 to 13
    in particular.
    But I stopped at 10 because I couldn't do anymore. Those extra intensifying techniques
    level me out. So now what's that do? If we look at a graph here, if this is intensity
    and this is my reps from one, to six, to ten – or one, to five, to ten – halfway, if
    we start on this graph with those two types of training what do we have?
    Well, we know the first one – the true 10 rep, the 10 done for 10 and not worrying about
    the journey so much – that's going to be an intensity level around here. Now the
    one that was at a 12 to 13 rep max, where would that fall on this intensity curve, in
    terms of the rep?
    JESSE: Below it!
    JEFF: Oh, Jesse! Kind of chiming in. That's good to know you don't just appear on the
    intros. So now – below it. He's right because it's a lighter weight. The intensity
    driven by that rep is a little bit lighter.
    However, you know – I hope – that I could take this and, depending upon how I performed
    that rep in the journey I took to get from A to Z – I could take this way the hell
    down below this. If you need to see an example of that all you've got to do is look at
    the following example here.
    If I have some weight on here, just because it's a heavier weight doesn't mean when
    I get under here and start doing this – which you see a lot of guys do – that does absolutely
    nothing. That's bullshit when it comes to developing and trying to create hypertrophy
    in the lats.
    That is just a waste of time and effort. So, I just took this, which was a heavier weight,
    and I dropped it all the way down here. So, we're not talking about hat. We're talking
    about this example here.
    However, do realize that I could take that weight I had that was slightly lower in weight
    and bring that intensity up from rep 1 up here, or even higher, because of how much
    intensity and focus I put into the initial rep. Then what winds up happening is, their
    journey throughout the set.
    So as this one goes, this is a high intensity rep. This is a high intensity rep. This is
    a high intensity rep. This is a high intensity rep. I also have this mounting intensity here
    just because of the overall fatigue. So, it's climbing, it's climbing, it's climbing,
    and climbing. I get to 10 and I'm done.
    This one down here, this is pretty easy, in terms of the intensity level because I'm
    not applying any of those extra techniques. So, you guys have felt that yourself. You
    go through rep one, two, three, four, five, six and if feels like the only ones that are
    hard are the last couple.
    That's what I'm talking about here. They're here. They're here. They're here. When
    we start to get toward the end, now that shoots up. And it might even end a little more intensely
    because it was a heavier weight being used. But look at the difference in the quality
    of that set.
    This is where I tell people all the time "You see inefficiency when you're trying to get
    hypertrophy and you're always going to wind up in a better place" because all this accrued
    additional intensity underneath this graph is what creates that stimulus for growth and
    That is much more significant than what we could do here. Now, a couple more points.
    This is all meaningful, guys. I'm telling you. If I take this concept and go "I knew
    it! All I need to do is go really light and get that tension." Time under tension is
    Guys, I preach 'time under tension' a lot. But it's not always a blanket statement
    of time under tension because I could come here and squeeze as hard as I want. And squeeze,
    squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. Up. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. That slow, eccentric, slow,
    slow, slow, slow, slow – all this super slow motion.
    That's not doing anything either, guys. The threshold for intensity was too low. This
    weight was not enough to cross that threshold to even make it productive. Unless you're
    training for a metabolic overload.
    A lot of guys are not necessarily prepared to train metabolically because the thing with
    metabolic training is, you do take a light weight to failure, but you'd better be prepared
    to take it to a level of intensity you haven't trained for in a long time.
    To make metabolic training effective, it starts when you – the rep starts when you start
    to burn. Not 'when you burn, it's over'. When you start to burn, that's when your
    set starts, and you go through that burning resistant more and more. It takes a mental
    toughness that a lot of guys don't apply there.
    Therefore, they're making it ineffective. So, then you could say "If that's the
    case, do I discredit this attempt, or this approach?" My answer to that is also 'no'.
    You don't discredit that approach. Why? Because this is still about – there's
    still a huge value to this, guys.
    Despite the fact that this is great at creating hypertrophy, this is also great at a lot of
    other things. Number one: it's great at strength training. Just like it was on the
    example of the bench-press at the beginning.
    If I get stronger on this, if i become good at efficiently moving this bar on a lat pulldown,
    to the point where I can keep increasing this pin from workout, to workout, to workout,
    to workout; am I not getting stronger on this lift? All strength doesn't have to happen
    in a 2, to 3, to 5 rep range.
    That's a myth. You can get stronger in any rep range. What's great about that is, as
    that top end strength improves there – and this is also athletic because I am moving
    multiple muscles. Getting muscles to contribute together to move this bar. It's not about
    isolating to create inefficient overload on the lats.
    This is a more efficiently athletic lifting pattern. But at this top end strength improves
    guess what happens to this little green mark? Because it starts down here, this one would
    go up. My overall strength would go up. I might start at a higher level there, but the
    green also starts at a higher level.
    So then when the green jumps up, it jumps up to a higher intensity level there. So,
    bringing up our top end strength is also going to bring up that adjusted strength that we
    had on that second example. So, guys, all of this matters. When you go to train you
    have to understand how you're training.
    You have to understand the goals of your training. More importantly, you have to understand why
    you're there in the first place. It's not about moving from point A to point B or
    point A to point Z – however you do it. Sometimes it's about the journey in between,
    depending upon what it is you're training for.
    There's a reason why we follow different rep ranges and when we program them. We program
    them at specific places to illicit specific responses. We do that in all of our programs,
    depending upon the goal you're trying to achieve right now. they're all over at
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