In athletics, as with life in general, there are certain trade-offs. You want to run really fast? You won’t run really far. Want to eat junk food seven days a week? Don’t expect to outperform someone who’s eating clean for six. You want to train with heavier weights? You’re not going to be doing higher reps. It’s this last example, however, that we’d like to revisit.
What if we told you that you just might be able to lift heavier weights — for more reps — the next time you go to the gym? Cool trick right? Read on, and you can try this technique with your current workout plan, or try it with one of the programs in our blog.
We call this training technique Double Reps, and it’s more of a neuromuscular trick than a biomechanical advantage. But if it works even for just a few weeks, why not use it, and then move on to a different method of shocking your muscles into growth-mode.
How To Do It
The concept is quite simple: Do your reps two-at-time, with no break between the two, and then pause for a brief moment before repeating the process until you reach the intended number of reps for that particular set. The rhythm is similar to a heartbeat, where there are two contractions (the diastolic and systolic) in succession, then a momentary pause, followed by two more beats. Another way of looking at it is like doing mini-sets of 2 reps until you reach the desired number of total reps.
Let’s use a set of bench presses as an example. Say you are targeting 8 reps for the set, and you are using 80% of your 1 rep max. Some days you can eke out 8 eight reps — other days you can only manage 7 reps before you hit failure. Using the Double Reps technique, the set would go like this:
Unrack the weight, lower the bar to your chest, and then immediately press the weight up to the starting position. Immediately lower it again, and when the bar touches your chest, instantly begin pressing for a second time. Upon completion of this rep pair, take a quick breath, and with no more than one- to two-seconds pause, repeat the process until you complete 8 reps. “But what if I only get 7 reps,” you say? Simple: with the help of your spotter, rack the weight, wait 5- to 10-seconds (maximum) then attempt another pair of reps. Whether you get one more, two more, or none, that completes your set.
We have found this technique primes our psychological machinery for seemingly shorter, more intense “chunks” of work, and we particularly like this for sets that range between 8 and 12 reps. One drawback to the Double Reps technique, as pointed out by our tough-as-nails friend, Steve, in the gym a few weeks ago, “It won’t work for odd-numbered sets.” Yeah, there is that… but for anyone willing to consider even numbers, give Double Reps a try and you’ll be surprised how this minor tweak can deliver big gains.