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Old 03-10-2010, 01:43 PM   #1
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Default Beginners and Rep Ranges

A quote from bodybuilder Sean Sullivan, who trains 100 to 150 lifters a year.

Quote:
Novices do not have the nerve innervation needed to be productive in the lower rep ranges, or the skill level with the exercises. As you train the body becomes better at firing the muscle fibers. People starting out or have less then a year training have poor ability to fire at optimal with less then 8 reps. This is why so many top coaches dismiss many studies, the participants are novice trainers so the results are off. As your training age goes up you develop better pathways and can move increased loads and fire more muscle fibers with fewer reps.
Quote:
For a novice you NEED to stay in a slightly higher rep range. There is little value in going under 8 or over 12 the first six month. As training age goes to 6 months to a year start adding some sets in the 6-8 range. After 3 years you need more variety and also base most of your volume on your known fiber dispersion. The above ref by Hatfield was for the average trainer. If you notice a greater response to slightly higher or lower reps then shift as needed. I respond best to lower reps- 3 to 5 on upper body, 6-9 on tris, and legs +15 but heavy 15! So as your progress from novice to intermediate add some variety to your sets, 4-6 rep sets and some 12-15 rep sets. By the time you have 5+ years you will have it figured out.
Thoughts? This flies against 5x5 routines...
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:44 PM   #2
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very interesting, there are so many different opinions, ex. "beginners need to build a solid base of strength before they can move on to higher reps" and programs like rippetoes meant for the brand new beginner which seem to work so... but i enjoy doing higher rep things as well so i'm split
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
A quote from bodybuilder Sean Sullivan, who trains 100 to 150 lifters a year.





Thoughts? This flies against 5x5 routines...
I agree with this. I wouldnt have someone just starting out do any 5x5 program, unless they were raised on a farm or doing some other type of hard labor growing up as a youth. Especially so with kids that grow up now playing video games all day instead of playing outside.
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Old 03-10-2010, 02:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strkout35 View Post
very interesting, there are so many different opinions, ex. "beginners need to build a solid base of strength before they can move on to higher reps" and programs like rippetoes meant for the brand new beginner which seem to work so... but i enjoy doing higher rep things as well so i'm split
It depends on your definition of beginner which I think in this case may be defined differently. Someone who has never touched a weight is a lot different than someone who has been doing some sort of weight training program for a year.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:17 PM   #5
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My opinion at this time, is that an old style 3x10 wholebody program is a great starting point for beginners. At least for about 3 months. They should work on good form, and progression.

After the intial 3 months they could start to lower reps by increasing % of max to a higher degree. After about 5-6 months they should be able to hit a solid heavy 5x5 program, and do some good work with decent form.

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Old 03-10-2010, 03:26 PM   #6
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I agree with not hitting lower rep ranges as they are learning the lifts - and as a true beginner.

Sean states that he would have a trainee wait until they have trained 6 months to work in the 6 to 8 rep range. Sean also states, "After 3 years you need more variety and also base most of your volume on your known fiber dispersion." This is basically stating that after 3 years you can begin with reps under 6.
Quote:
"So as your progress from novice to intermediate add some variety to your sets, 4-6 rep sets and some 12-15 rep sets. By the time you have 5+ years you will have it figured out. "
Sean believes that from year 3 to 5, you are dabbling in all rep ranges and should have figured out a solid approach for your body.

I respect Sean, but I also respect Casey Butt and Mark Rippetoe, and I'm not sure they would advocate waiting 3 years before trying 5 rep sets.

From a personal standpoint, I was performing heavy compound lifts in various rep ranges after grasping basic form. My mentor had me doing sets sets in each of the following ranges:

4-6
6-10
10-15

I made great progress my first year with this structure, and was able to squat 315x4 after about 6 months.

I have not trained any beginners like Sean has, which is the reason I wanted to start this thread. I am not implying that my personal experience is indicative of what others will experience.

Sean mentions that he bases his conclusion on research that has come out in the last 5 years. I'm not familiar with this research, and if anyone is, I would like to see the studies.

I have no doubt that someone can grow just fine if they never go below 6 reps. But I'm still not connecting with waiting for 3 years to try reps under 6.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
But I'm still not connecting with waiting for 3 years to try reps under 6.
No kidding. Three years seems excessive. That's some slow learnin'. Seems like if a person is serious and has a trainer, etc., that a year or so would do, right?
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:44 PM   #8
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At the core of Sean's statement, he mentions that "nerve innervation" factors require 3 years before a trainee should train with lower than 6 reps. That is the statement that I am most curious about. I've not heard that before. And I'm not sure where he found this research.
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Old 03-10-2010, 09:15 PM   #9
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There are so many articles, theories, etc out there. But the only way that I've been able to grow is just listen to my body. Work it hard, when it feels like it. Have any of you seen the latest MuscleMag special issue on Arnold? Read what his routine used to be starting out and your jaw will hit the floor. Everyone is different, some have the genetics that can handle an ass kicking in the gym. Others can't. My motto's always been, eat, train, sleep, grow!
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Old 03-10-2010, 09:19 PM   #10
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if you start low enough on 3x5 i think you'd be fine with the low rep ranges
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