Rep Talk: The Heavy Stuff.
FACT: If an athlete wants to grow a certain system or capability, it needs to be trained with specificity, consistency and patience. Both low and high rep training can achieve this. if you train a system or muscle group safely and properly to fatigue, it will create an adaptation.
With that said, most endurance athletes favor high-rep, low-weight training – IF any strength training at all. Because? Well, I’m not sure, actually.
I feel like this was a conspiracy perpetuated by a select group of gym-teachers-by-day-cross-country-coaches-by-extracurricular all over the high school nation. You know the kind: Static stretching to start every PE class (no, just no), peer-chosen kickball teams (so cruel), and the “Presidential Physical Fitness Test is life” mentality (seriously, why – a chin-up hang has never been useful). A potentially budding adolescent endurance star was turned off of physical activity in my high school faster than my gym teacher could turn on a Richard Simmons' “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” video.
But in all seriousness, (I hope) we know better now, but my guess would be that many endurance athletes have been programmed to think that STRENGTH MEANS MASS. This is a myth! It actually means, well.... strength – not to mention resistance to injury.
While lower rep training is GREAT for foundational building, the reinforcement of movement patterns, and postural refinement, if you want to generate more power (like charging the steep stuff on a bike) or the ability to withstand repetitive force (like thousands of running strides), you are going to also have to train with heavier loads in the 3-5 rep range.
We don’t learn to move “well” under load (…think postural stamina here) unless we learn to do so in a controlled environment with specificity, consistency, and, you guessed it, patience. If we understand fatigue and the signs of neuromuscular breakdown as an athlete, we understand the genesis of the vast majority of overuse injuries.
BOOM: Stop an injury before it starts. It’s a novel idea! Just don’t be afraid of the heavy stuff.
And... of course one of my brilliant clients made a video about this topic. Because let's face it, everyone deserves an Avatar.
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