The Ladder Principle

Since last June I have been lifting weights, and the principle I bought into was one stating that the most "gains" the typical person makes are done in approximately 60 reps a week. You make gains after that, but they are so small and incremental as to be unnoticeable to casual lifters like me.

Lately it is been a stretch to get to the gym and I have been looking for a way to freshen it up.

Today I tried doing ladder sets with weights.

basically, you lift for 7-1/2 minutes in increasing sets with equal time lifting and resting.

For example, I was doing incline press. I lift once, it took about 2 seconds to complete the rep, so I rested 2 seconds. Then I lifted twice, it took about 4 seconds, I rested 4 seconds. And so forth until I was doing 10 lifts, taking about 25 seconds, then resting 25 seconds.

I did not want to overdo it as doing an uncertain number of reps instead of 21 on any given machine could be a stretch. So I dropped most of the weights significantly.

For example, on the pectoral fly I had worked my way up to 195 pounds in 3 sets of 7 reps. And that honestly was not pushing myself, but pushing myself to do something I dislike...such as not something I am good at.

I should clarify; I like the results of my weight lifting. I am stronger, faster, more agile, and have more endurance. It is the process of lifting I dislike. It is a chore I do 30 minutes a day 3 days a week to let me do the things I enjoy longer and more frequently...racquetball, tennis, biking and softball. So I lift, but it requires a hefty dose of self-motivation. Pushing my limits takes more mental energy than I typically am willing to expend.

So back to my point...I probably should be at 210 or 220 pounds on the pectoral fly.

Anyway, for the ladders I dropped it to 145.

I did the 1 rep. Did the set of 2. The set of 3. Feeling almost too easy. Get up to 6 reps and I was thinking I had set the weight too low. But by the time I got to 9 it was almost too much. 10 reps and I was crying for Momma. 11 and my grandkids were screaming in agony.

I should point out...that is a lot more lifts than it sounds like. 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10=55 and so forth.

I took a short rest and went to the incline press. My personal record is only 255 pounds. I decided to go 200 pounds.

By 7 reps I was wondering how anybody could be so stupid as to do this. But I was determined to do at least 10. I made it to 11 and started back down. On the way back down I was encountering muscle failure. I was supposed to lift 9, only made eight. Supposed to lift 8, only made 7, and the 7 was questionable...

I did a third arms machine. Even with a similar weight reduction it was torture.

I took a break and did a leg machine. I did another arm machine. Another leg machine. I looked at the 2 other machines I wanted to do, felt my quivering arms and shaking legs and called it a day.

An hour later my arms are still fatigued, my legs are less strong than normal. It will be interesting to see if I show more strength, if there is an improvement. I do know I like that I was able to push through on every exercise to the full planned 7-1/2 minutes.

And I think I have found a way to push my limits. This is strangely exciting.

We will see if I can muster the intestinal fortitude to pull this off a second time.

1 comment:

Riot Kitty said...

There are more disturbing things that you could find exciting ;)