Matching Intensity Level to the Rep Scheme

Mike Campanella

Can we talk about something important for a moment? I’m not talking about politics or social issues, no, I’m talking about fitness. Specifically, the importance of matching intensity to the prescribed rep scheme that your trainer gives you. It’s time to get real about this, people.

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. “Mike, why do I need to match my intensity to the prescribed rep scheme? Can’t I just do as many reps as I feel like doing and call it a day?” Well, let me tell you something, folks. That kind of thinking is a one-way ticket to sub-optimal-performance city.

The thing is, when your trainer gives you a rep scheme, they’re not just pulling numbers out of thin air. Maybe it’s to build strength, maybe it’s to build power, maybe it’s to build endurance. Whatever the reason, there’s a method to the madness. They’re giving you a specific number of reps to do for a reason.

If your trainer gives you a strength-based exercise in a 4-6 rep range, that means the weight should be so heavy that you can’t lift it more than 6 times. If your trainer gives you a power-based exercise in the 8-10 rep range, that means that every single rep should be done as hard as humanly possible so that by the end of the set, you don’t want to do another rep. If your trainer gives you an endurance-based exercise in the 12-15 rep range, that means you should be approaching muscular failure by the end of the set. If these conditions are not true at the end of the set, it means the weight wasn’t heavy enough, the intensity wasn’t high enough, or the reps should be increased.

So when you go and start doing extra reps just because you think you can, or you get to the end of the set and you don’t need any rest at all before the next exercise, you’re throwing the whole method out the window. You’re not building strength or power or endurance. You’re just doing reps for the sake of doing reps. And when it comes down to it, you’re just cheating yourself out of a great workout.

Look, I’m not saying you have to be a slave to the rep scheme. If you’re really struggling and you need to take a break, that’s fine. If you’re feeling good and you want to push yourself a little harder, that’s fine too. But you have to use some common sense here. You have to match your intensity to the prescribed rep scheme if you want to get the most out of your workout.

So the next time your trainer gives you a rep scheme, don’t just go through the motions. Think about why you’re being asked to do that number of reps before you start your set and try to maximize the effort you’re about to give. Match your intensity to the prescribed rep scheme and you’ll see the results you want. Trust me, folks, it’s worth it.

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