Rep Schemes: Taking Lifting Seriously

So you’re a Body-Builder and deep in a program ..Looking for some more info.. Need a change-up?

Do you know what kind of lifter you are? Do you know what a rep is and why changing training styles is important? Below is some more detailed info on how to play around with rep schemes.

You must perpetually overload the muscle. This means that you’re talking yourself into lifting, pushing, or pulling something that seems heavier than you could ever want to lift– and it’s changing the look on your face as you do it– yet, you still do it– and as many times as possible.




Gains can be: Strength, Endurance, Muscle Size,  Body Composition, Skill, Speed/Power, etc.

You must shock your body- with movements that you haven’t done before, exercises you aren’t good at. You have to work on your weaknesses and imbalances. Think of yourself as one huge muscle.

You must diversify the style, speed, and duration of your movements, the kinds of exercises and planes and ranges of your motion, as well as when and in what sequence, and with what energy source.

Why is this all so important?

You have to break down muscle fibers so that when your body restores this damage and lays down new fibers – they are much more capable of meeting the demands of your movement, aka ADAPTATION

Same Muscle Group:

Working the same part of the body is attempting to control and use blood flow in the most efficient manner. The thinking behind this method is that you are capable of lifting greater loads as all of your oxygenated blood and energy is concentrated in the target muscles.

Opposing Muscle Groups:

This method is my personal favorite. It gives you an awesome feeling — what lifters call a pump– and you will feel in command of your anatomy, maybe even learn a thing or two about your body. Think of it as holistic lifting. ūüėČ

You train opposing muscles, so let’s say you are working on lower body.

1st set: Work the Anterior: Quadriceps with knee extensions – bilateral work, or pistol squats – unilateral work.


2nd set: Work the Posterior: Hamstrings with reverse hyper-extensions or leg curls taxing the muscles just opposite the Quadriceps.

Super Set: or Tri-Set:

The fastest and easiest way to increase the intensity and caloric expenditure of your workouts. Using the same example above, do exercises back to back without taking a rest. You will be fatigued for sure but burning fat and building endurance simultaneously.

For Tri-Sets, you do three instead of two without resting in between.


The most common training method of them all. After warming up:

1st set: Start with a load that you can complete 12-15 reps

2nd set: Increase load and shoot for about 8-10 reps

3rd set: Load for 6 reps.

This overloads the muscle successfully and works well for building lean muscle, strength and endurance.

Reverse Pyramiding:

This is the reverse of the above description. Always warm up first.

1st set: load for 6 reps max (meaning you can load for 1, 3, 4, etc)

2nd set: reduce load and push through 8-10 reps

3rd set: load for 12-15 reps.

This Rep Scheme gives your body the chance to lift maximum weight before fatigue sets in. It is a great way to get your numbers up. The more frequently you are able to maximize the lbs on the first set, the easier this whole routine will become and you will be lifting heavier than you thought you could in no time.

Drop Setting:

This is a really great Rep Scheme to wake up a certain muscle group that is just not responding in the way you would like. It could be genetics, or neglect, whatever the case, you’re ready to face it head on.

1st Set: Any exercise at your heaviest load but bearable. The load you can do for about 6 reps.

2nd Set: Reduce the load by half and do as many reps as possible. AMRAP. Depending on the exercise, it may be advisable to have a spotter present because this is very close to training to failure.

Optional Continuation:¬†Drop Setting to Failure: You can continue to decrease the weight and by any increment you like until it is the lightest it can be – and you can no longer move in the exercise’s range of motion.

Types of Training to Failure:

  • Set Assistance /Positive Failure

Any exercise any load, in the final reps a spotter assists you past a sticking point or muscle fatigue. By doing this it is a successful and positive way to not only overload the target muscle but complete the set. You can use a resistance bands on a pull-up as a form of assistance.

  • Negatives

This is the greatest way to acquire any skill/movement/exercise when strength held you back in your first attempt.

Ex. Pull ups. Hold yourself at the top of the bar and slowly lower. Rest and repeat. Soon the pulling motion will come much more naturally to you.

  • Partial Reps/ Pulses

However many sets of any exercise it takes to find yourself exhausted and target muscles fatigued. Continue going through sets getting through all reps at the original desired load, BUT by moving in pulses that cover only a portion of the full range of motion of the exercise.

  • Giant Set:

1st set: Any exercise with a weight that you can do for about 10 reps.

Pause for five seconds

 2nd Set: Do it again- and then again and again and again until you can only complete two reps of the exercise.

  • Pausing and Repeating:

This is another overloading method where instead of dropping the load, or doing partial reps aka pulses, you put the weights down and rest for 10 seconds and then repeating until you move. Failure, get it.




Fasted Cardio

Fasted Cardio It means that you have not eaten before an activity. Whoa…. that is crazy talk! You gotta have your Pops, I know.

Well, it’s not really crazy. I’m a true “For the Love of Breakfast Kind of Person,” and here to tell you that Fasted Cardio is totally possible.¬†

It’s typically is done in the morning because it’s hard to have a true fasted workout if it’s not first thing upon waking. Once we have our first meal we are in the process of digestion kind of all day long. Don’t we all just love to eat?

Is the goal of Fasted Cardio different from regular cardio? Sort of.

The goals here are to use fat stores for fuel instead of food in the belly. Why is that important? It means more calories from fat are going to be burned than if you had eaten before the activity.riseandshine

Can you burn more total calories with high intensity cardio activities anytime of day and still achieve the same desired end game without committing to a fasted cardio routine?

Yes, most likely. But every road looks different and each body responds differently.

Here’s the information: Do it for 1-2 weeks – See what it does for your composition. (and let’s be clear that is what we are talking about: Nothing about fasted cardio pertains to training your heart. It is about playing with energy sources.)

Let’s talk for a moment about calories so this whole thing makes a bit more sense.¬†If you burn more calories than you take in, your body goes into¬†caloric deficit.¬†

  • A¬†caloric deficit inevitably brings about weight¬†loss as that stored fat and glycogen that you once were saving is getting used faster than you can replenish it. ¬†

IPSO FACTO: Only 2- 3K calories of carbohydrates can be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle. The liver and muscle glycogen are what you use when you move, particularly high intensity, anaerobically, and/or when moving heavy loads. 

HOWEVER, Even a lean person can store up to 75K cal of fat in triglycerides all over the body. Fat has no home.. she’s more of a squatter but not in the leg exercise squatter ¬†=)

PERSPECTIVE on what calories mean for activity: A ten- minute mile burns around 130-150 calories depending on how much a person weighs.

There are four main factors that contribute to the efficacy of a Fasted Cardio:

  • Diet/Genetics (How much you eat, when you eat,etc)

  • Hormones

  • Intensity

  • Conditioning


  • Low Blood Sugar: From the¬†7-8 hours you were sleeping and not eating,¬†two things were happening. Your blood sugar (glucose) dropped as well as your¬†insulin. Your blood glucose dropped because your body needed that sugar to continue functioning: ie. breathing, organ function, all the basal metabolic needs. An average person can burn 80 calories a minute while they are sleeping. But your individual diet and level of conditioning can take you further from these averages. Some people think low blood sugar impairs cardio performance, however¬†low blood sugar forces the¬†body to use stored fats for energy. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†


  • Low Insulin Levels: When insulin levels are very low, your body is better able to release and transport fatty acids into the mitochondria. Right about now, we are all seeing our elementary science teacher shout out, “The Powerhouse of the Cell,” but honestly what in the hell does a mitochondria have to do with fat burning? Don’t worry it’s just literally the site in the cell where we convert nutrients into energy- so everything. The Mitochondria is everything.

Hormonal Interaction:

  • Growth Hormone and insulin are antagonistic, meaning they have an inverse relationship. Growth Hormone is secreted while you sleep for muscle repair, memory consolidation and regulating growth and appetite.

Intensity: (The most important : it makes a world of a difference – Duh)

  • Lower Intensity (50 % VO2 Max) = using stored fatty acids¬†to get to that 50%VO2 Max and then the amount decreases.¬†

  • Mid-Grade intensity or intervals so that your avg is (75%VO2 M) is the sweet spot for a sustained pulling and burning from fat stores.

  • Higher Intensity Exercises inhibits stored fats from being primary energy source. As the body wants to use glycogen.¬†


  • A trained person will have increased fat oxidation and decreased carbohydrate oxidation than an untrained individual.

Meaning as a beast who stays in beast mode, you burn more fat, more of the time. You’re also in need of more calories because there’s a good chance you’re more active than the un-trained individual and that your body composition has more muscle.¬†


How to Create a 6 Week Routine (1 of 2)

Alright so you’re ready for regular physical activity. Congratulations!

This is great news! ¬†But now that you’re finally here, you’ve got a whole new problem:You don’t know where to start…. ¬†WHAT to train OR¬†¬†HOW to train.

Image result for lifting face black and white, gym cultureLet’s first take a look at your body. If you have never lifted¬†before:

Please read this about the Body, Foam Rolling,

What kind of lifter are you?

The different training styles, and why reps are important and which rep schemes you can use in your program.

  • What’s your posture like? Do you slouch?

  • Do you have lower back pain? or pain anywhere?Lower Back Pain/Injury

  • Do your legs turn in, turn out?

  • What’s your range of motion, particularly in the hips and shoulder?

  • Can you do more than one sit up?

  • Can you walk on an incline or jog for a full mile without dying?

  • Do you know which¬†of your muscles are the tightest?

You must understand that your body in its upright position tells a story.

It is the end-product, or conclusion of your muscles.

Things they are doing, have done, and will continue to do without you being aware or giving them the green light. Now you are involved in this story and can tell it however you see fit.    

Tiffany Fuentes

If you slouch, it means that your¬†muscles on the front are pulling your skeleton forward AND¬†the muscles on your backside don’t have a thing to say about it.

They aren’t putting up a fight or pulling back to¬†keep you straight. Nope, they’re just giving in.

This is all posture is, how well the moving parts of your body communicate and work together.

Poor posture, like lower back pain is not something that you have to live with. You have the power to change, but do you have the will?

Figure out a schedule:

  • How many days can you commit to an hour to lifting/moving/yoga? ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Hint:¬†This should be minimum 3.

  • What days can you commit to cardio? This depends on your goals and current cardiovascular health, of course. For weight loss, five days. For regular heart health & maintenance, I would suggest three days minimum.¬†Cardio-Vascular

  • Do you know how much time it will take?¬†As in do you understand how much time you need to lift and or how long you should actually be doing cardio for, and what your target heart rate is? Will you be doing a variety of¬†cardio activities? Do you know which is best for your body? Hint: You have to try them all.What Should I Do For Cardio?

  • Have you lifted before? Do you know how to split up the body? Read Training Styles. And why we split the body when we’re making a schedule?¬†These are¬†critical details when it comes to changing your body shape and composition. What kind of lifter am I ?

Image result for go hard or go home lifting culture


Need exercises? start here: Weightless Routines  and view Videos Tab. 

Week 1: Build your base. Learn your strengths and your weaknesses. (also your likes and dislikes) Get a notebook and write down how many reps you did and what weight you pushed, pulled etc.

  • This first week is like a good negotiation. Write about how it felt, how you slept and how you woke up. Even how hungry you were or weren’t. You are selling yourself on exercise.

  • You should be spent by rep 8¬†or 9¬†of your third set of any exercise. If and when, you follow this principle to find your starting weight, you are building your base. It is critical that the weight tire you but gradually, particularly if you are beginning regular exercise and building your body. Why? So you can work the appropriate muscles rather than be dominated by a heavy load, and over-exert yourself and recruit a bunch of secondary and tertiary muscles which is not exactly what you were hoping to do with this program.

Week 2: Master week 1.

In week 3+4, push the limits of your endurance and control.

  • You know the moves and your favorite corner of the gym. You know the load and reps, which exercise follows the other, when you need your water, etc. Now, see how many reps you can crank out… Yes you’re supposed to be doing ten, but change baby change¬†— maybe you get in twelve or fifteen and maybe it’s only one of the three sets, or two of the¬†three. This is the week to play with endurance.¬†

In week 5, take the weight down. De-load.

  • It may sound funny or counter intuitive but this allows for something called super¬†compensation, which we will explore in Week 6.¬†Make it challenging by playing with your speed. Go slow, go fast, take a pause right at the hardest phase of the movement. Ie. A ninety degree bend in the elbow in a bicep curl. Break a sweat. You’re probably a bit more sore than you have been in your preceding workouts. This is normal. And everything is a bit harder when you’re sore, so listen to your body and move with control.

  • Do not slack on cardio when you’re sore. This is the most important time. You need to flush all that waste out your system, boost the oxygen levels of your blood and increase circulation. A light run can cure soreness and begin great recovery.¬†

Week 6: This is it. This is the week you’ve been waiting for. Go hard as fuck..Or HAM.

  • Get pumped, know what your up against before you arrive to that weight room. Make an extra special “FIRE” playlist. What does all that shit mean. Lol. You, my friend, are going to set¬†the weight higher than usual. This is SUPERCOMPENSATION. This is when you’re one step closer to the Hulk than you were before you started training. …Maybe… ¬†¬†Understanding Adaptation

  • There’s no wrong way to get stronger. Overload when you can. You will be amazed at what you can do when you connect your mind to your breath, and your breath to your movement. Believe in yourself, watch how you adapt & ALWAYS¬†exhale at the hardest parts.

  • There are several ways you can change the weight. First, you can modify a whole set (meaning all ten reps), or you can only do higher loads for half of the reps of each set (so 5 reps at regular weight & 5 at the higher load.) ¬†How much should you increase the weight? 5, 10, possibly 15¬†lbs more than your base.¬†You don’t have to increase the load for all three sets, but you gotta do it for at least a full set of the entire routine.

Image result for lifting face black and white, gym culture

Go Hard or Go Home friends.


Overweight v.s. Obese

Overweight is a category people fall into through a chart at the doctor’s office. Doctors determine this by something called BMI. Body Mass Index.

Doctors, generally speaking, know nothing about this area; hence they use¬†a chart on the wall. It‚Äôs not their fault. They‚Äôve had to breeze through many areas of study before getting their PhD. You can’t learn everything about gynecology when you want to become a podiatrist!

When assessing your BMI,¬†they’ll¬†weigh you and combine that number with¬†your age and height, soon you’re¬†staring into some colored boxes on their wall. BMI has no way of recognizing how many of those pounds or kilograms are muscle or fat. That chart doesn‚Äôt measure how much water is in your system, or your bone density. The BMI assesses mass, but you’re not a box, and this chart has no way of understanding¬†what actually makes up your mass. It is a helpful tool but not accurate by any means and certainly not a standard by active and weight lifting body types.

Image result for body pinching

For those that are interested in having real numbers and creating real goals to change your body type, find out your Body Composition. You can invest in a caliper, or you can go to a sports doctor, or specialist that may be able to do it for you. Make a few calls. I know Equinox Gyms have an in-house consultation where they calculate this for you as a free service. You‚Äôll just have to listen to them sell you on personal training for twenty minutes post calculation. I am in no way suggesting that you¬†pay or don’t pay $185/monthly for their gym, but no one wallet looks the same and this service is free. Just don’t tell them I sent you.

Image result for body composition

Body Composition breaks down this number we call weight. There are a five different methods to get body composition, but I am only going to talk about the Caliper method. It is the easiest and most inexpensive. As with everything else, there is room for human error, so take the test three times and then solve for an average. This first step in this method of testing is using the caliper to pinch the subcutaneous fat of a person’s skin. There are several sites in the body to be pinched. Depending on who’s equation you wish to use, each requires a different combinations of sites, (for example some include the calf while some do not, yet all include pinching at the tricep fold.) These measurements then go into an equation resulting in a total value for body fat and total value for lean body mass. see calculator here

This lean body mass consumes calories in something called a Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the amount of calories you need to burn in a day to function. In order for your heart to beat, brain to think, and legs to stand, there must be some energy burned. You can consume energy in the form of food and these calories will be used as the energy needed to satisfy this basal metabolic rate, or your body can and will pull from the stored calories present in your fat cells. Fat cells are nothing but storage sites for energy and so they do not require you to burn anything. Fat cells have no shape, and they have no limit to how much they can expand. They are the untouched basement closets, if you will, if we all had basements filled with things don’t need. All the toxins that our very intelligently designed body goes about removing are transported around in fat cells.

Fat is important to have in the body, of course as everything has its purpose. It keeps us warm and helps us with digestion. In order for the body to break down fats, we release something called bile acids. These have a natural laxative effect on the colon. In addition to this, the tiniest bit of undigested fat can help grease the pathways of stool as it needs a little encouragement moving through the colon. Typically, it is a good goal to limit your body fat percentage and when and if one exceeds a parameter on another chart you will find yourself in a box called Obese. Just as with BMI, there are charts of averages with respect to body composition.

Obesity can also be determined by something called a waist to hip ratio. This is where the circumferences for each are related to one another and yet again charted for you as an indication of health. Obesity is a complex condition with many biological, behavioral, and social influences. Genetics play as an important role as the surrounding environment and dominating culture.

  • Individual behaviors and environmental factors can contribute to excess caloric intake and inadequate amounts of physical activity. The current high rates of obesity have been attributed to eating out of the home, larger portion sizes, greater exposure to food advertising, limited access to physical activity opportunities.
  • Certain medical conditions¬†and prescription drugs¬†can cause weight gain.
  • Recent evidence suggests that certain stresses and¬†inadequate sleep can cause weight gain.
  • Race-ethnicity, gender, age, income, and other socio-demographic factors also can play a role in this complex health issue.

People who are obese, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides
  • (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems such as asthma
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
  • Low quality of life
  • Some cancers
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disordersBody pain and difficulty with physical functioning.