I’m planning on doing some endurance training soon. How much should I reduce the weight being used on my exercises when compared to a normal strength training regimen and how much should I increase my overall repetitions per set? Will training for endurance with higher reps lead to more muscle longevity and definition?
For endurance training, you will want to focus on a higher repetition range of between 15-20 reps per set. You can even go higher than this if you would like and many people like going as high as 100 reps on some of their super endurance sets. Here is a common breakdown of the strength continuum:
- Strength Training: 1-5 Reps
- Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth): 6-12 reps
- Endurance Training: Over 15 reps
The weight you use will obviously be lowered when doing high rep endurance training but the specifics of how much completely depends on your current fitness and strength levels. Every person is different when it comes to how much weight they can lift, so you just need to gauge your strength and try to choose the correct weight for the repetition goal for that exercise. If you’re doing bench press with the goal of 20 reps, you want to choose a weight that you can barely lift up on the last rep in the set. If you can’t do a full 20 reps with that weight, it’s simply too heavy. On the other hand, if you can easily get 25 reps with the weight being used, it’s too light and you need to increase the weight in order to meet your desired rep range goal.
In terms of high rep training leading to definition, it may help a little since you are going to output more physical exertion doing 15-20 reps per set during your workouts. More reps equals more work which means you will most likely be burning more calories. However, the overall calorie burning effect from doing endurance training versus normal training will be negligible.
The most important factors in reducing your body fat, getting lean and gaining definition will be through your diet primarily and then your cardio workouts. If you take someone who has a high level of body fat and they use high repetition endurance training in their workout plan, they will never get truly ripped if they follow a diet that is filled with empty and useless calories coming from sugar, fat and processed foods. A clean diet packed with 100% nutrient dense whole foods will be your best choice if you want to truly shed excess body fat and get shredded. Read our Nutrition 101 article for great information on different healthy foods to include in your diet.
Couple a clean diet with cardio workouts and you will supercharge your results. Including cardio training not only works your heart and cardiovascular system but it also burns extra calories every session. This is basically your “calorie burning insurance” which helps you throughout the day and comes in very handy if you ever go off track with your diet. Maybe you slip up once in a while and have a dessert with dinner or a few beers out with your friends. It’s a lot easier to cope with this lack of discipline knowing you have already got your cardio workout in that day and most likely have burned off all those extra cheat calories that you enjoyed so much. Just make sure you don’t go overboard and have 3 slices of pie with dinner or 8 beers while watching the game. Moderation is the key for everything and when it comes to diet and exercise, it is truly one of the most important aspects for attaining the body of your dreams.