Guest Week: Repetition Schemes

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Hey guys, sorry for the lack of contact over the last week or so.  It’s been a pretty rough week here at BAGC headquarters, and I’ve honestly needed to take a little time off.  Luckily, some friends of the blog have stepped up and delivered some AWESOME guest posts!  So, welcome to GUEST WEEK!  Our first guest post comes from our friend Dillon Wolcott!  You can check out his site for more great stuff!  (also, don’t worry, The Mind of Guile is still coming, it’s just a bit delayed)

Repetition Schemes

Hey everyone! I’m Dillon and this is my first guest blog post. Actually, first post period.  Exciting!

Today we’re going to talk repetition schemes, or “reps” as the cool kids call them.  Different rep ranges serve different purposes and augment different fitness attributes. Think of it like this: The exercises you do are your weapons, they help you fight the Unfitness Demons. The rep ranges you use are the weapon types, they change how you can fight. If none of this is clicking trust me, it’ll make sense by the end. First let me lay down the ranges themselves, explain them a bit, and then differentiate them by the type of exercise.

REP RANGES! *thunder* Mwahahahaha…ahem, sorry, sorry. Moving on.

1-3: This is generally accepted as training solely your nervous system to make you stronger by recruiting more muscle fibers at the same time.

4-7: This is generally accepted as training both your nervous system to get stronger and your muscular system to become denser; a phenomenon known as “myofibrillar hypertrophy”*

8-12: This is generally accepted as training your muscular system to become more enduring and larger; a phenomenon known as “sarcoplasmic hypertrophy”*

12+: This is generally accepted as training your muscular system just for endurance.

*NERD MOMENT! *thunder again* Mwahahahaha…sorry, last time, I swear.

Myofibrillar hypertrophy: An increase in muscle fiber size that leads to increased muscle size and capacity for strength, NOT increased strength itself.

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy: An increase in intracellular muscular fluid; increases muscle volume and endurance.

That’s the basics. Now notice that I used “generally accepted” on all of those. Well the reason for that is we have a pretty good idea of what those do, but everyone reacts a bit differently to them. For example I respond pretty well in the 4-7 range for what’s written up there, but I also get a fair amount of endurance from it. It’s one of the beauties of life; we’re all a bit different from each other. Try them all to see what works for you best. Now to differentiate these rep ranges by type: free weights and bodyweight.


For free weights the above rep ranges are all you’ll need, no changes are really necessary. The only thing to remember is that as reps go down, weight needs to go up in order to produce a stimulus. The one exception I can think of would be if you’re warming up with weights, then a couple sets of low reps to get your nervous system fired up are the ticket.


Ah. This is the tricky part. Bodyweight training doesn’t respond to the above rep ranges the same. In fact, it responds so different that it merits its own chart, however, I can’t in good faith provide one. This is due to the fact that it changes from exercise to exercise, such as pullups and pushups, because of the resistance and the leverage. Let me explain:


Resistance: The amount of weight being moved during each rep. For instance in a pullup, you’re moving your whole body minus your arms. In a pushup, you’re only moving about 60-70% of your body minus your arms because your feet are on the ground.

Leverage: The angle that you’re using. An example would be handstand pushups which place a lot more stress on your shoulders and triceps due to your bodyweight being overhead, or a one arm pullup where all of your weight is being pulled minus the arm you’re pulling with. So how do we implement these variables in order to be successful with bodyweight training? Easy: start light, get heavy. I can’t give you a rep chart, but I can give you a light to heavy chart for the big basics:


Pushups: Wall pushups, incline pushups, knee pushups, regular pushups, diamond pushups (hands touching), assisted one arm pushups (one arm straight), one arm pushups

Pullups: Flex hang (chin over bar), negative pullups, chin-ups, pullups, close grip pullups, one handed pullups (grab your wrist with your other hand), one arm pullups Handstand pushups: Decline pushups (feet on something), L pushups (waist bent 90 degrees with feet on something), handstand negatives, handstand pushups, diamond handstand pushups.

Rows: Bent leg rows, rows, close grip rows, archer rows (side to side), one arm rows

Squats: Assisted squats (hold onto something), squats, close squats, side to side squats, assisted one leg squats, one leg squats.

Leg raises: Lying knee tucks, lying leg raises, hanging knee tucks, hanging leg raises, toe to bars, windshield wipers (at the top of a toe to bar, go side to side in a half circle motion.)

With that chart you should have a pretty good idea of how to manipulate resistance and leverage. As far as bodyweight reps go, the harder an exercise, the less reps you need to progress. A good starting point to reach is: 10 pullups, 20 pushups, 20 hanging knee tucks, 30 squats. From there you’re at a pretty solid fitness level and can progress as you see fit.

Well, thank you for reading! If you made it all the way to this point and don’t have a righteous headache, then you deserve a cheat code to life! Up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-A-B-A-B…wait that seems familiar… See ya!

Dillon Wolcott

A big thanks to Dillon for stepping up and providing a great primer on workout types!  Make sure you check out his parkour and fitness site,!  We’ll be back again on Thursday with a post from Gilver on hand-to-hand combat!

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