Tudor Bompa and high reps..

In Tudor Bompas book, “Serious Strength Training”, he says that it is possible to get “cut” from performing as many as 150 repetitions. Has anyone tried this?

I’ve tried this type of technique, and I’m really not a fan of it. I’m sure I’ll get criticized for this, but here goes… I prefer added aerobic exercise for fat loss rather than an increase in the number of reps per set. There, i said it.


There are certain muscle groups that tend to respond well to high rep sets, such as the soleus and abdominals, but in general, you really won’t get any benefit in hypertrophy or strength development from these really high rep sets. So let’s say you’re on a calorie restricted diet trying to cut off some fat… If you choose to perform your exercise in the high rep range (anything over 15) in effect what you’re doing is using the training time that should be spent for size and strength MAINTENANCE for a slight increase in fat loss. And I’m sorry, I don’t care what research or studies you quote me, there are undeniable benefits to performing standard aerobic exercise that cannot be perfectly duplicated in the weight room. So why not take advantage of the unique benefits of aerobic training and help your fat loss efforts at the same time? You certainly shouldn’t give this much attention to aerobic training during your bulking periods, but cutting phases provide the perfect opportunity to include and benefit from aerobic exercise.


So here’s what I would prescribe for fat loss.
-Keep your rep range between 8-10, and ALWAYS lift explosively in the concentric for strength maintenance.
-get a good 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in 3 times per week, via running, swimming, biking, etc…

OK, my answer is to a question a little different than exactly what you’re asking, but it’s related.

After years I avoided high reps like the
plague, since I was convinced that training
below 50% 1RM definitely, and generally 60% 1RM, was a waste and a bad idea, and since
I always did strict reps with slow negatives.
On most bodyparts, this would mean 9 reps
would be the highest ever used, though some
might see 12 or 14 reps at the lightest part
of a training cycle.

However, I decided to try a new training
method which I call “out of phase training,”
in which case you have have 2 training cycles
going on simultaneously, but 180 degrees
out of phase with each other. In other words,
while one training day is heavy and getting
heavier with each week, the other is lighter
and also getting heavier each week. Finally
the first day reaches its max, then it drops
down to light weights and becomes the light
day while the other day has now built up to
being the heavy day. I also decided to allow
good rest on the heavy day – 4 minutes between sets if doing straight sets, or 90 seconds
between if alternating exercises with an opposing muscle group – but less rest on the light day: 2 minutes.

Now, thing is, I decided that I wanted to
minimize eccentric muscle damage on the light
day, so I decided to allow the negatives to
be quick and to do the reps in a pumping
style. This wasn’t the strength day, after
all.

To my surprise, on many exercises I was doing
15, 20, or 22 reps… sometimes even 40 reps!
Time under tension was not really any higher
than it would be if I were doing strict
negatives: I was just getting more reps because
reps were only taking a second or two each
rather than five seconds or more.

Overall this has worked very well so far,
so now I am a believer in higher reps…
provided that the reps are quick!

PS: do be careful not to let the weight
fall too fast and then overstrain yourself
as you slow it in the last couple of inches.
You shouldn’t have any particular strain
on the last part of the negative.

Thanks, I will try it. DO you believe it has any different effect on bodyfat loss? Or is it just a different way to train for extra muscle?

Bill, do I smell an article in there somewhere? Pretty interesting stuff!

I agree Bill! I’m writing an article on alternate periodization methods, one of them being similar to the one you describe. I don’t train the plyometric and maximal weights phases 180 degrees from each other, but you certainly could and definitely should using other training methods.

I call it straight plyometric training rather than high rep training, since the focus of numerous fast, high rep sets trains the elastic region (ie transitional phase of the rep) almost exclusively. I don't take any time to switch the two like you do, but rather jump straight from plyometric training to a wave loading method. I particularly like it for improving squat poundages. In the plyometric phase, I use a lot of side jumping drills and high rep jump squats. It works absolute wonders for overcoming sticking points in the bottom position.

So yes, I agree with you that "high rep" training can be very useful if done with a specific purpose as described above. However, I still wouldn't even consider sets with a TUT of over 90 seconds for anyone except overweight women with no interest in muscle mass or strength.

Chris, I do think it could make an interesting article, but it’ll take more time and testing before I’m happy making the strong endorsement
that an article implies.

Dave, I don’t know if it helps with fat loss
(my fat loss results could certainly be
attributed simply to Fat Fast and the juice
regardless of training protocol),
but quite plausibly it does. Ultimately,
thermodynamics has got to be important
and can’t be neglected. And fact is, doing
20 fast reps instead of say the 9 that you
would get if you did slow strict negatives,
is doing twice the work! It is also requiring
the body to adapt to producing a higher power
output, doing twice the work in about the same
time. Whether that results in greater post-exercise burning of calories or not, though, is unknown.

You know, I’ve long noticed that there’s
a strong correlation between guys who do
these fast pumping reps, which we know is
not the way to train and they’re wrong,
and pretty good size. That correlation
doesn’t prove correlation: they may just
get away with inferior training because
they are naturally bigger! On the other
hand, even though incorporating slow negatives
into the program of someone who has not been
doing them always gives great results, showing
that there is value to slow negatives, maybe
there is some value and some true causation
between the fast reps and the good size you
often see of guys who do them.

Another point here is that Olympic lifters
avoid the negative as much as they can,
and usually get quite a lot of muscle development. So maybe the best approach
is to use both methods, as this training
cycle approach has you doing. We’ll see.

I recently backed off benching heavy and have started going with more reps. I can definately tell my chest has increased in size. I am sure it is due to a change in training protocol, as nearly any change will produce results, but the theory is interesting. I was previously doing 5-8 reps with weights between 315 and 350, but I moved back and started at 225 for 3 sets of maximum reps. My plan is to add 10 pounds a week for the same set/rep scheme. Like I said, I have only done three workouts like this and have noticed a size gain. The 19th rep with 245 felt very much like the 5th rep of 345 if you ask me. Once again, it is a very interesting theory.

In his book he describes a fat loss phase where you would do 30 reps on the leg press and then do 30 for an upper body exercise without rest. DO this continuous for 8 exercises. I did this once and it was tough, and very different. It sort of resembles the German Body Comp workouts. I would love to have an article on this. It seems that it is almost sacreligous to go above 18,19, or 20 reps for a lot of people. I go heavy, but what I do is probably just a percentage of a percentage of the options out there. I was always curious about this one.