Reduce weight or reduce reps

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Kung Fu Wang, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If you start to work on your weight when you are 20 with X lb and N reps, the day when you are 80, you may not be able to keep doing your weight training as when you are 20.

    So when you are 80, will you

    1. reduce your weight,
    2. reduce your reps,
    3. reduce both weight and reps,
    4. stop doing it?

    Your thought?
     
  2. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I'm well away from 80, but I would probably reduce weight, maintain reps, and reduce the amount of days I work out to give myself more recovery time.
     
  3. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    @skribs has good thoughts. My response, since am not as far from 80 as him, would be do what my body and mind tells/allows me to do..
     
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  4. Monkey Turned Wolf

    Monkey Turned Wolf MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I would reduce weight, and try to keep the reps going. But then I've never cared much about powerlifting to begin with.
     
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  5. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    I'm not only talking about power lifting but weight training in general.

    If I don't train weight for 3 days, I can feel:

    - something is missing as if I have not had protein for 3 days..
    - self-confidence is reducing.
    - my forearm muscle start to shrink.
    - ...

    Do you ever feel this way?
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    I didn't weight train for 5 years...
     
  7. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Yep, agree with the other answers. You won't be able to lift as heavy a load, but there are other ways to get the same effect as lifting heavy, but using lighter loads. Myoreps and rest-pause techniques have been shown to build muscle mass as well as heavier progressive overload. Using much lighter loads and going closer to failure basically.

    I do know the feeling, but it's something I've been letting go of as it can be very unhealthy. If you need to train in order to stave of feelings of lack of self-confidence, belief that I'm "shrinking", it's definitely worth looking into the belief system that's driving that... Mentally it can really mess with you, and can easily become an addiction. I was fixated for quite some time, and it took alot of inner honesty to admit that, and work on changing my perspective on weight training and nutrition in general.

    I now train because I love training, and no longer freak out if I miss a day here or there. And even so, muscle does not shrink that fast, I can't remember what one of the studies said, it was something like doing 2 hard sets for a muscle group once a week is enough to maintain muscle mass. 3 days is nuthin ;)

    Taking a week to two weeks completely off weight training is actually a really good practice, something I do after every big cycle. Helps give the whole system a break and desensitise muscle tissue, so they're more responsive to lower loads when you get back into it.
     
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  8. Yokozuna514

    Yokozuna514 Brown Belt

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    I am far from 80 as well but I did a fair bit of weight training in my 20's. I would think a lot has to do with your weight training goals respective to your age and ability/time to train. The older we get the more we have to listen to our bodies and well the answer of the reduction of weight or reduction of reps will probably be answered for you as you look to find your limits in a safe yet challenging manner. At my age, the question is generally answered by my ability to recover. If I can recover in a day with a work out that I felt was challenging, then I am probably training at the right intensity. If it takes me much longer to recover or a begin to feel an onset of a joint issue, I am probably exceeding my capability and should work with a trainer to find either a reduction of weight or a reduction of reps to be able to continue to progress and meet my goals (or set new goals if my present goals are no longer attainable).

    The important thing for me would be to be able to continue to train and feel challenged at each and every opportunity I step up to the bar.
     
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  9. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Old Chinese saying said, "If you have not trained for

    - 1 day. you will notice the difference yourself.
    - 2 days, an experienced person can notice the difference.
    - 3 days, even a non-experienced person can notice the difference."

    IMO, if you don't train for 3 days, your arms and your legs will no longer be yours.
     
  10. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    The short answer is I'll have to see where I'm at when I'm 80.

    The long answer is I won't quit, but I'm sure I'll have to experiment to figure out how to get the best results. That's been true for for a long time though. I started lifting weights as a teenager but wasn't super consistent nor particularly structured about it until my early 30's. Being almost 50 now and lifting and keeping detailed notes for almost 20 years I've had to make adjustments to my routine to continue to make progress. Some of that's been because I've gotten older and some of it because I've gotten closer to my genetic potential (and of course there's my genetic potential at a particular age). I've also made changes as I've experimented with new ideas (both my own and others'). I stick with the things that work better and drop the things that don't. Even if there was some breakthrough tomorrow that allowed me to stay the same age forever I expect I'd be lifting differently 5 years from now than I am now. It would likely look very similar in terms of form and technique, but there would be differences in the details.

    As a strength trainer who's worked with a lot of people in their 60's and 70's a number of people in their 80's and a small few in their 90's, I don't think we hit an age where age itself is the reason we are no longer able to improve. I've got clients that started training with me in their middle 60's now in their mid to late 70's who continue to get stronger, just more slowly than those who've been training for a similar length of time but at 10-20 years younger. What I see is that as we age it takes longer to recover, we see less benefit from the same amount of work, we lose ground more quickly if we stop for too long, and we become more prone to illness and injury. At some point all of those factors combine to make it very difficult to progress or even maintain our current level of strength.

    Getting to your specific questions:

    1. No, I don't think reducing weight it a good idea unless it's a temporary response to an injury or bad habits that have resulted in poor form.
    2. With the protocol I follow I don't count reps but instead measure time under load. I also look to reach a particular time and then raise the weight if I exceed it. There might be reasons to adjust this target time but they have more to do with skill levels and other factors not related to age. So, no, I'd not reduce my equivalent of reps either.
    3. Nope.
    4. Definitely not.

    The things I have adjusted and would likely adjust further are frequency of workouts and workout volume. If I can do 7 big compound movements 3-4 times a week when I'm 20 maybe I'll get better results doing them 1x/week when I'm 80, or maybe 3-4 big movements 2x/week, maybe less. I'll have to take notes and see what my numbers do over time. If I were doing free weights I might switch some or all of my lifts to machines to reduce the risk of injury. I'd pay attention and take notes not only about my performance with weights but also about how I felt, how long it took to feel recovered, etc. and then experiment further based on that info. So far, I've found that year over year my clients are stronger on all exercises regardless of age as long as they keep working at it and we keep adjusting to adapt to their physical changes.
     
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  11. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    Absolute nonsense. According to studies, that’s all in your head. You’d actually be stronger and have better endurance. Why? More rest = more time to repair the microtrauma you intentionally do from training.

    You don’t lose muscle mass in a day or 3. Not a chance. It’s all psychological. Timing/vision/whatever you want to call it, sure. Baseball hitters are notorious for this. They need to hit consistently otherwise they lose their rhythm. One day off from seeing live pitching a week or so, but not more. That’s higher level guys, not weekend warrior bar league softball. Seeing punches/kicks would probably be very similar for an elite competitive fighter.
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Either, or both. There’s good research suggesting you can get similar strength gains with lighter weights if you still exercise to failure. The German volume training (GVT) approach seems to bear this out.
     
  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That’s more than a little bit of an exaggeration, John.
     
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  14. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    I've looked at a lot of this data and while I'm not completely convinced that we've got as clear a picture about it as some would like to suggest, I think it is generally accurate enough to be useful. The question it raises for me, and I read articles all the time on this topic so I know I must be missing something that's obvious to most people, is why anyone would want to lift lighter if it is no more effective than lifting heavier (and I've seen no studies to indicate that lighter is better, merely, possibly equivalent)? I'm sure some of it relates to the wide variation in the definition of the term "failure" and some of it probably relates to fear of heavy weights, but I still don't get it.

    If I'm training to what I define as failure I've got a lot of grit to really, really push myself to "real failure" if I keep the weight heavy enough that I fail in 45-60 seconds of continuous movement. I can maintain my determination and almost always achieve what I consider to be "real failure" with times around 90 seconds, but I admit I can be intimidated by doing a large volume workout with that kind of target time. I can consistently get to something that is a reasonable approximation of failure at times around 2 minutes but it's utterly miserable. Anything beyond that and I'm always wondering whether I lost my grit, overheated, just plain gave up, or managed to hit something like a good approximation of real failure and I look forward to my workouts with unmitigated dread. Having experimented extensively with all of the above, I personally get slightly better results utilizing a target time of 60-90 seconds to failure for most movements and as little as 45 on a select few. Much more importantly, when I run with weights that are this heavy I find my workouts to be a serious but interesting challenge that I don't want to miss. When I've worked with lighter weights I only work out from a sense of obligation.

    Do you prefer lighter weights, and if so, what is it that you like about them? Do you train to failure or to some other metric? Anything you think I'm missing?
     
  15. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Yep what JR said. I would very heavily question that old phrase. Just cause something is an old saying, doesn't necessarily mean it's based in truth or the context is relevant. To me rest/recovery is not the opposite of training, but a PART OF training itself.
     
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  16. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    Training, rest, and nutrition are all equally important. Mess up one of those, and results will suffer.
     
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  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the advantages for me (probably not for athletes, as much) is that I can get in real strength training when something is limiting my ability to handle a heavy weight. That "something" could be an injury to a support muscle (still able to stabilize 25% of the weight for the full exercise), or my knees (which absolutely want nothing to do with any significant weight on a squat, but aren't too bitchy about light-weight squats). Also, sometimes I want to do more complex movements, where heavy weight + a small error can lead to minor injuries. Or sometimes I want to push that heavy weight, for the sheer joy of moving the biggest thing I can, or for the mental challenge of it.

    In the context of the OP, as I age, I can keep pushing small weights a lot of reps (which I do sometimes when I don't have access to full equipment, anyway) to try to stave off muscle loss.
     
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  18. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I am wondering if you would advocate machines over going to a slightly lighter free weight to keep their known advantages? When I was competing, free weights were heavily preached to me because of the external pressures and forced balance they create. The only time we used machines were during cool downs. Has this line of thinking changed over the years?
     
  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    JR, where would you direct a late(r) 50's male to look for meal plans? My weight is good but my diet stinks.
     
  20. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Yeah may very well be a personal preference thing. I've also read boatloads of studies regarding lighter vs heavy, lighter to failure vs heavy with equated volume etc.. there are mixed results (which is usually down to how the study is set up, always using untrained individuals to me is mostly a waste of time), but as a whole it seems lighter (as long as it's taken closer to failure, not necessarily to absolute failure) is equal to the hypertrophy produced from heavier loads (even in type II fibres).

    I think both have their place, and I generally train using HST (hypertrophy specific training devised by Bryan Haycock) principles, which is essentially a cycle emphasising higher frequency and constant progressive overload. Goes through three rep range phases as the weights progress: 15 rep, 10 rep and 5 rep.

    I quite like the lighter load training, and have also used Myoreps (by Borge Fagerli) quite a bit too (highly recommend), which is based on taking the first highrep 'activation set' closeish to failure, then a short 10ish second rest, and doing mini-sets of 3-5 reps, which are considered the effective reps (simulating the last few reps of a set), and getting more time under tension with those reps. A type of rest-pause training but it's a way of managing fatigue rather than chasing it.

    Ultimately it seems progressive overload is crucial (or the main driver some say) when it comes to hypertrophy training. And it makes sense, with lighter load training there's only so much volume you can add. But then same goes for strength gains through progressive overload too I guess... but getting stronger over time seems to be important.

    Anyway! I will do heavier training most cycles, but tend to stick around lighter to medium weight stuff. I get what you mean, and heavier load work is fun for sure. I guess I like lighter work to really focus on technique, mind-muscle connection, and it's also fun to play around with different methods too. Depends on your goals and intention for training I guess.123
     
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