are high reps good for losing fatThe bodybuilding world is bursting at the seams with fiction.

Science, logic, and reason are NOT the cornerstones of this particular industry; tradition and hype unfortunately are.

I mean, who wants to develop a sound theory of this particular branch of exercise science when the new issue of ‘muscle blaster magazine’ promises overnight success?

New workouts and supplements are peddled by steroid-ridden “champions” who’ve never used the product, let alone depend upon it for their results.

People like me have to settle to be in minority because we aren’t prepared to flat-out lie to people in exchange for cash. Being honest with people gets less attention than “Add 2 inches to your arms in 2 weeks!” – it’s all glitz and glamor, less science and substance.

Anyway, rant over. 😉

One of the MANY myths that still pervades this sport is the idea that a higher rep range should be employed to promote fat loss and definition on a cutting cycle.

We’re talking 15-20 reps per set here, sometimes more. The thinking is one, or both of the following:

  • High reps will burn more calories than lower reps
  • High reps promote a more defined/cut look

Firstly, just because a set lasts longer doesn’t necessarily mean it burns more calories. A low or medium rep range terminates sooner but the intensity of the contractions is higher. This means MORE stimulation of the anaerobic pathway which in turn must mean more stimulation of the aerobic pathway while you REST. (This is because the lactic acid build up converts to pyruvate which MUST in turn be metabolized aerobically. If you want a fuller explanation read the cell metabolism part of this article.)

However, it may be true that, on the whole, a full workout to high-rep failure burns more calories. But if so, we’re talking about tens of calories here folks, not hundreds. Just leave a few peas off your plate and you’re all set.

But there’s a more important issue.

Even if you burned 15 more calories, you’ve effectively SPLIT any adaptations that the body is going to make BETWEEN the anaerobic and aerobic systems. While you can’t truly isolate the anaerobic system by lifting weights, a bodybuilder MUST seek to steer the body’s adaptations towards muscle growth as much as possible.

And you can’t get the best of both worlds because the body’s recovery ability is NOT unlimited. If it were, things would be a lot easier for us guys, but it’s not. Therefore this limited resource must be ‘spent’ on recovery and GROWTH of muscle tissue as far as possible.

Remember that when cutting you’ll be incorporating some cardio sessions into your regime to help accelerate the fat loss process. This, along with diet, is what takes care of lowering your body fat percentage. It only makes sense to keep your weight training sessions as anaerobic as possible.

You want to keep muscle-building (or at the very least, muscle-maintaining) a high priority as muscle tissue is metabolically active tissue i.e. it burns calories by simply existing. There are many opinions on just how many calories a pound of muscle burns ranging from 6 – 100. I think a good estimate is 35-50 per day. If you LOSE 5 pounds of muscle when cutting you’ve lost at least 63,875 worth of yearly calorie-burn, which equates to 18.25 pounds of fat. So muscle tissue is key to getting lean, and even MORE important for STAYING lean.

In short, the purpose of your weight training sessions is to stimulate growth irrespective of whether you’re on a bulking or cutting cycle. Attention to diet and incorporating some cardio is what’ll get you ripped. High reps have nothing to do with getting that defined look.

Train Intelligently,

Mark

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