The 6 Rep Rules

When I first started lifting weights in high school I mostly participated just so that I could be with my friends and to add a little bit of size for football and wrestling. I lifted for two years without being taught any technique or any pattern to follow for proper progression. Most of my lifts were done by copying what I had seen in my high school weight room which was sloppy reps, a lot of bench press and an unnecessary amount of bicep curls.  It was not until my senior year when I began to work with someone who knew a little about strength and conditioning, my oldest brother R.J. who was the captain of the MSU wrestling team at the time. He helped me by giving me workouts to follow, but most importantly he introduced the “6 Rep Rules” that I still use to this day. My brother taught me what he had learned through the strength and conditioning program at MSU and that was six basic rules for every rep. I still live by these rules today to ensure that I am not wasting a single moment during my workouts. These rules can be applied to every exercise to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck while you train and also help with preventing any injuries from lifting.

Rep Rule 1: Eliminate momentum.  Raise the weight in a smooth and deliberate manner. Force your muscles to perform all the work and do not use any momentum to help you lift the weight.

Rep Rule 2: Pause for a second in the contracted position. You may hear me yell “get a pause!” during my group coaching or semi-private classes. This “pause” ensures that you are performing the exercise in a slow controlled manner and shows that you can control the weight you are using.

Rep Rule 3: No Sudden Drop: Make a smooth transition from the paused contraction position to initiate the lowering phase with consistent lowering speed.

Rep Rule 4: Emphasize the lowering phase. Roig, M, et.al, found that “Eccentric training performed at high intensities was shown to be more effective in promoting increases in muscle mass measured as muscle girth. In addition, eccentric training also showed a trend towards increased muscle cross-sectional area measured with magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography”. You may hear me say to my clients as they train to “control the negative.” I tell my clients this because studies show that you produce more muscle mass and increase the amount of area your muscles uses by having a slow and controlled negative.

Rep Rule 5: Pause momentarily in the starting position. By pausing both before and after the concentric action you are demonstrating complete control of the exercise that you are performing.

Rep Rule 6: Go through the full range of motion. By going through the full range of motion you are increasing flexibility and making sure that you are getting the most of the exercise that you are performing.

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