I love TORQ (Tension-Overload Repetition Quantity–30-20-15) high-rep sets. I’ve been using it on the isolated contracted-position exercise to finish off a muscle. Should I ever do it first, on the big midrange exercise?
Yes, and here’s why. A Brazilian study just found that bodybuilders can build more strength and muscle mass if, before doing their usual sets, they first do a set of lots of reps with lighter weights. [European Journal of Applied Physiology].
In the study the researchers had one group do a preliminary set of leg extensions with 20 percent of their one-rep-max before moving to heavier sets. The other group did only standard sets with 75 percent of their 1RM. Rests between sets for both groups were 30 seconds to one minute (similar to TORQ). Here are the results from the researchers…
“The men who started their workout with the light set built up more muscle strength than the men who trained their legs in the traditional way. The scans also showed that doing a set to failure with light weights resulted in a bigger increase in MUSCLE MASS.”
Why was that so effective? “We hypothesized that muscle failure (principally of [slow-twitch] type-1 fibers) and metabolic accumulation induced by prior exhaustive exercise would promote a greater global recruitment of type-2 [high-growth] fibers during traditional training sets and, thus, further stimulate muscle performance and adaptations.” [Ergo-log.com]
It worked amazingly well for both SIZE and strength. So TORQ it up on your big exercises–and add weight to each set. In fact, you may want to try 30-15-8 or even 30-10-5. You could even extend it to a 4-set TORQ sequence: 30-15-10-6.
Note: We have the latest info and programs using TORQ in The Super-Size Crash Course. There is also discussions of how Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman used high reps in his training in an entire chapter in Beyond X. There are many complete workouts in that e-book as well.
Till next time, train hard–and smart–for BIG results.
–Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson