By Bruce Burke
Resistance training can be tough, especially the last few reps. Let’s face it, they are uncomfortable and can be a mental and physical challenge! However, they are the most important of the entire set.
For those looking for enhanced muscle tone, strength, and endurance, those last reps clearly have the most impact. The same is true for those looking for body composition changes. Increased focus leads to increased intensity, which in turn positively effects EPOC and creates more exercise “after burn”. Regardless of the benefits that high intensity training provides, it is important not to sacrifice good form just for intensity’s sake. Proper body position, posture, range of motion, and speed of movement must be maintained.
Approach your first few reps as a build-up, preparing you for the reps that will stimulate the greatest physiological changes. During these reps, we are strong, focused, and can perform as expected. As the set progresses and fatigue sets in, our minds are saying “this hurts, I need to stop” and our muscles are truly becoming less capable of working as expected. It is at this point that we must bear down and focus. Challenge yourself to make the last three reps look exactly like the first three. Remind yourself that you have no more than 12-15 seconds of exercise left…and that you can handle anything for 12-15 seconds!
Focusing on the last three reps means sticking your endpoints, maintaining good posture, and making sure you are mentally focused. If you do these things, your last three reps will be done with purpose and yield the greatest benefits possible.
For this week, focus on making the last three reps of every exercise look like the first three and maximize your training efforts!