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A 20 reps experiment

I have been lifting weights for many years. I have gone through thousands of workout sessions. I have tried many different approaches and pursued many different goals.

But I’m still able to surprise myself – and to surprise my muscles.

I’m not fully learned. And the fact is, in the iron game, one is never fully learned. If one tells oneself so, that only means one has gotten stale in one’s attitude.

Gym training offers endless possibilities, endless variation and never ending alternations.

Sometimes people express surprise if I let them know that I’m sore from working out the day before. They have the notion that muscle soreness is something that happens to beginners and that an experienced lifter will no longer feel the effects the same way.

The truth is I can decide beforehand if I’m going to let a workout result in soreness or not. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape I’m in; all it takes is that I surprise myself with a radically different approach, and this will result in soreness the day after.

I write this in order to express the following recommendation to all serious gym goers: never stop changing things up. Never stop experimenting. Never stale.

Progress and gains are the results of hard training – and “hard” means that you have to keep challenging yourself. Don’t grow complacent. Don’t stale.

My workout session today targeted legs and pecs. It went as follows:

Lunges, 4x12/side

Sisyphus squats, 4x15

Back extensions, 3x15

Lying leg curls, 4x6

Benchpress, barbell, 6x10-20

Inclined benchpress, barbell, 6x10-16

Flyes, dumbbells, 3x12

As you can see I continued to take a high volume approach. I acted in accordance to my own recommendation above when I performed the bench presses, experimenting by going as light as 40 kilos below what I usually do. That’s right: 40 kilos lighter… The rep numbers went 20 – 18 – 16 – 14 – 12 – 10 -10, for a total of 100 reps of bench press – and that was just the flat presses....

Going that light, aiming for such high reps number, reminded me of what I wrote at the beginning of this article: despite my many years of training I can always shock my muscles by doing something differently. I got a really good pump and experienced some true pain (only the good kind). The light weight allowed me to play with performance tempo and also to hone my lifting technique. It was almost meditative.

I left the gym hungry for more of the same. Tomorrow is arm day and I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself doing 20 reps curls in order for me to relive the endorphin kick that was the result of today’s workout session.

/Daniel Schou

Daniel Schou flexing biceps

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