perfect rep

How to Achieve The Perfect Rep

In life you either have a result or an excuse

The perfect repetition is the most basic of all strength training loading parameters. It actually influences all the other loading such as sets and choice of exercise. Yet, most trainees fail to observe the basics of a good rep. Hence, they lack progress.

In life you either have a result or an excuse.

Executing the perfect repetition comes from within. Here are the 7 steps to completing the perfect rep:

Step 1: You must be clear on the entire right mechanics

Proper technique must be clear in your mind before you do the set. If you are not sure, contact the highest certified Strength Sensei coach in your area, and book for a consultation. The results are directly proportionate to the extent you are clear on the perfect technique.

Step 2: Proper start position

Most people are already in a faulty position before they start the rep. For example, to be correct in the front squat, the elbows have to be up and in, and the bar must be slightly choking you, your torso as upright as possible, feet shoulder width and slightly externally rotated.

If you are not in that position, you are already starting to waste the rep.Starting with the elbows too low will put enormous strain on the scapulae retractors and many other muscles of the shoulder girdle, and accentuate the load on the lumbar discs.

Step 3: Begin with the end in mind

The proper mind set is critical. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, many moons ago, that you should always ask yourself why you are doing this set. Answering the question will give you the right mind set. For example, you have two more sets of deadlifts, and you want to go home, knowing that  those perfect reps will pack on mass and strength on the whole posterior chain will fire you up for those last two sets.

Step 4: For hypertrophy, feel the muscles, not the weight

Instead of focusing on the external (the weight), focus on the internal (the muscles). Starting to apply this principle with single joint exercises such as incline curls is much easier than compound exercises such as squats.

For example, for incline curls, pretend your mind is inside your elbow flexors. Focus on the force of the contraction during the concentric range, and the stretch of the eccentric range. Fire your antagonistic muscles (triceps) as you hit the bottom range. This will provide a greater stretch of your elbow flexors, and in fact augment the force of the next concentric rep.

Step 5: For maximal strength/power , feel the speed

Concentrating on accelerating the load will tap into the higher threshold motor units, especially as evolve through the set and the reps are getting harder. Research shows that concentrating on the speed of the concentric contraction, not only improve the strength progress curve, but also helps the force/time curve to the left, hence you get a greater rate of force development.

Step 6: Count down the reps

Begin every set with a definite goal for the number reps – let’s say five. As you begin your set, count, or have your partner count the repetitions down: 5,4,3,2,1. Why? It keeps your mind focused on the task at hand, not on the outcome. When trainees count upwards, they tend to let their mind wander with anxiety on whether they will complete the set or not with thoughts such as “Will I get stuck at 4 reps?” This trick also you to be more present during the sets, hence improving rate of progress.

Step 7: The first and the last rep should look the same technically

This concept was first well explained by  Ian King. In the effort to handle progressively heavier loads, there is a temptation to use the heaviest weight possible without regard for technique. Classic technical errors are the use of excessive momentum to lift the weight, deviation from the correct movement pattern, and shortening of the range of motion. Keep in mind that the actual training load—the one that determines results—is determined both by the weight you are using and how you are using it.

On a given set, do as many repetitions as you can within technical limit. When you reach momentary muscular failure within technical limit or go outside of technical limit, you are done for the set. The use of cheating movements to get more repetitions is actually counterproductive. It teaches bad motor patterns and interferes with the recovery of the motor units (functional units of nerve and muscle) that were trained properly up until that point in the set.

You have gone outside technical limit if you:
•   Use more momentum to lift the weight than is allowed by the concentric tempo prescription.
•    Deviate from the prescribed movement pattern.
•   Lose full range of motion.

Your concentric tempo may slow down as you fatigue. This is not a problem, as long as your intent is to lift the weight at the prescribed speed.

Increases in load should not come at the expense of technique. To get the full benefit of the program, respect technical limit.

A final word

Churning out perfect reps set after set is paradoxically simple and complex at the same, and is the foundation of productive training. Pay attention to perfect form and you are on your way to optimal results.

Keep growing,

 Coach Charles R. Poliquin