Ok, in full transparency, the title is a bit misleading. There is no such thing as “the perfect rep”…but I needed a title. There are many ways to execute a rep while lifting weights and each way has an appropriate time and place given your goal, training level, conditioning level, etc. However, for the majority of the population the majority of the time, the standard method is going to be your bread and butter.
The catalyst for this article came about because I have been traveling a lot lately, and therefore, have been back in the commercial gym setting. First off, before I go any further, I want to say kudos to everyone there. You are showing up and, for the most part, putting in the work. I only say that because there is a minority of the gym-goers who seem to think magic happens just by walking in the doors. As if just being in the gym, but not actually working hard, challenging themselves, or at the very least sweating, they will see any improvement. Unfortunately, progress doesn’t happen through osmosis…but let’s get back to the point.
The perfect/standard rep, for almost any and every machine/barbell/dumbbell exercise, should be identical. I’ll list the key points below.
1. Each rep should take ~4 seconds: that’s 2 seconds in one direction, and 2 seconds to come back to where you started.
2. There should be a very slight pause in the contracted position (the half-way point before you switch directions and come back to the starting position)
3. When you finish your first rep and start your second rep, it should be a smooth transition. There should be no bounce. You want your muscles to lift the weight, not momentum. An added benefit here is to allow your muscles to stretch in that “starting position”.
4. Breathe! A good way to remember is “exhale on exertion”. Grunting is your body’s way of trying to breathe/exhale. So during the hard part (the actual push, pull, etc.), make sure you exhale. Inhale as you recover during the “stretch” of the movement.
5. Brace your core. It doesn’t matter if you are doing a squat or a bicep curl. Before you begin, you need to tighten your core. To do this, pretend like you just ask someone to punch you in the stomach, then start the movement.
That’s it! Remember those five points to make the most of your time and effort in the gym. Lastly, none of those steps will make any difference without consistency and intensity. Show up and work hard, and you will Live Your Success Story!