Going the Extra Rep
There are so many ways we can measure success in a gym environment.
Many of us follow the number we see on a scale or compare to others strength next to us. Most of the time these measurements will be deceiving and lead us in a completely different direction than where we first intended to go.
Step back and look at your personalised goals. Envision where you want to be and where you are now. How far away are you to where you want to be?
You may be closer than you think. Performance can help us determine whether we are where we want to be. There is no need for a scale or for you to compare to the other guy/gal working out next to you. There’s only one question you need to ask yourself and that is, “can I give a little more?”. If the answer is yes, then you haven’t gone the extra rep.
Going the extra rep is difficult, that is why it produces results. Sean Hyson, the group training director for Muscle&Fitness and Men’s Fitness magazines explains, “the simplest way to understand intensity and gauge your own is to make sure you accomplish whatever your goal is for the workout….a workout lacks intensity when you cut corners, quit on yourself, and do less than you know you’re capable of” (Ketchell, D., 2012.). It is so easy to just check off exercises we wrote down in a notebook. You should be pushing for more every time you step into a session.
As you attend a session, whether it’s one of your own or in a pre-programmed group, you should know the overall goal for attending that session. This will determine the amount of sets and reps you’ll be doing as well as the amount of weight you’ll be lifting. The intensity follows which demands effort throughout the entire session. As Sean said above, you need to push ourselves and not “cut corners” to know you have trained at the intensity that will provide results.
Here are some examples that you might have experienced:
Gym Member #1
Let’s think back to last week and pick any one of your exercise routines. Think about that time when you sweat a bit, lifted a heavy weight, took a long rest while reading an article, sat down and pushed some more weights, saw this really cool exercise on youtube, and lifted some more heavy weights? You know the session when you walked out of the gym feeling a little in your arms, oh and the one you repeated about 4 other times last week. Can you remember that session?
Gym Member #2
How about this, can you remember the training session when you showed up to the session a handful of minutes early, warmed up and stretched ready to start before the coach came in? Can you remember the training session when you came in with the mindset “I can do this today!”? Can you remember the session when you gave 100% and had nothing left, the session when you stumbled out of the gym not looking forward to repeating it? Yeah that one.
If you can relate to one or both of the styles of training above than you know which one provides the recommended intensity. This measurement of intensity will be different for everyone. For Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his own words he defines intensity as, “…working as hard as you possibly can. It is giving your best effort so that you walk out of the gym feeling completely satisfied because you know that you didn’t leave 1 or 2 or 10 reps in the tank” (Ketchell, D., 2012).
I know what many of you are thinking, “I don’t want to go that hard in every session”, or “I don’t like lifting really heavy weights”. That is not the purpose of this article. The point is understanding what intensity means.
Here are some simple questions to help you measure your intensity today:
- Am I cutting corners to make it easier?
- Am I walking out of the gym satisfied?
- Have I gone the extra rep?
Ketchell, D., 2012. Ask the Experts: What is Intensity? Schwarzenegger.com. [Accessed 22 Mar 2018].