to Build Muscle With 100 Rep Sets
By Nick Nilsson
100 rep training is
pretty simple: 1 set of a hundred reps. You do just
one set of one exercise per bodypart and do a total-body
workout each time you train. Very simple but VERY
So what could possibly
be useful about this technique for muscle-building,
I can hear you ask? Isn't the resistance you'd have
to use in order to get 100 reps in a set be way too
light for building muscle?
And the answer to that
is ABSOLUTELY. The main purpose of this training is
not to build muscle directly (though it does have
some potential to build your slow-twitch, Type 1 endurance-oriented
fibers). The purpose of 100 rep training is to improve
what I call "microcirculation" in your muscles.
In your circulatory
system, you have blood vessels
arteries to carry
blood to the tissues of the body and veins to bring
it back to the heart. Where the real action happens
is in the capillaries
the tiny blood vessels
that are so small only one red blood cell can fit
through at a time. THAT is where oxygen and nutrients
get delivered to the muscle cells and THAT is absolutely
critical for building muscle.
So think of microcirculation
as those little blood vessels where food and oxygen
feed your muscles.
Now think about this
more of those little blood vessels your muscles have
to feed them, the easier it will be for those muscles
Think of the muscles
that you have a hard time building
do you find
it hard to get a "pump" in those muscles?
THAT is poor microcirculation at work.
So the idea with 100
rep training is to increase capillary density and
basically improve the food and oxygen supply to your
muscles, setting the stage for better muscle growth
when you go back to heavy training.
And as sore as you
get from 100 rep training, that soreness ain't gonna
result in a whole lot of muscle growth
just improving the plumbing, which will in turn help
you supply your growing muscles with more nutrients
to build with!
It does this by literally
FORCING blood cells through the cracks, meaning you're
going to force so much blood into the target muscles
for such a long period that the traffic jam of blood
cells will cause the body to CREATE new capillaries
in order to deal with the overflow.
Think of yourself in
a traffic jam on the road and think of how cool it
would be just go off the road and drive through that
field beside the road. THAT is what your body is doing
a new road where there was no road before, which helps
deliver more food and oxygen to the muscles (and remove
waste more efficiently, too!).
And the bottom line
is, it WORKS.
How To Do 100 Rep Training:
This is where the rubber
meets the road. 100 rep training is just what I said
set of a hundred reps done straight through. Sounds
simple but there are a few technical details I want
to give you to help make it workable.
I recommend doing this
training as a total body workout each time. Each workout
will take about 45 to 60 minutes to get through. Take
90 seconds rest between each set/exercise. You can
take a bit more time when using bigger exercises that
generate more lactic acid (like leg press, for instance).
Train every other day
with this style of training (you can add in an extra
rest day if you need it) - it will result in a LOT
of soreness the first few times you do it. When I
used this program, I trained through the soreness
- I find that actually helps decrease it. As long
as soreness doesn't compromise training form, you'll
be fine to train while sore.
Here are the exercises
I used and the order I used them in. I've found certain
exercises are better to use with this style of training
than others, but feel free to experiment to find what
works best for you.
You'll notice that
these are more "bodybuilding" type exercises
than "functional" type exercises. With this
type of training, we want to just focus on cranking
the reps out, not on having to balance and constantly
adjust so it's actually BETTER to use more traditional
that's why I've listed leg press instead
of squats here (more on that later, though - I've
got a variation for you with squats that works GREAT).
Seated Cable Rows
Dumbell Bench Press
Lying Leg Curls
Seated Dumbell Shoulder Press
EZ Bar Preacher Curls
Seated Calf Raises
(on a side note,
I haven't done regular floor crunches in literally
YEARS - I usually do low reps and added resistance
was a BIG change of pace!)
So to repeat
do ONE set of each exercise and take 90 seconds rest
(a minute and a half) between exercises. This will
give you enough time to get to the next exercise and
get it set up.
The first time you do
100 rep sets, you will basically have NO idea what
weight to use. Start lighter than you think you'll
need to (trust me). After you do your first set, you'll
have a better idea of what it's all about.
I HIGHLY recommend keeping
a log of your sets and weights so you know how to
adjust for the next workout. I'll give you examples
of how I adjust things and how to know when to increase
or decrease the weight you're using.
100 Rep Seated Cable Rows
In my first workout
the first set I did was with 80 lbs. I managed to
get a full 100 reps all the way through with no stopping.
So in the next workout, I increased the weight to
90 lbs. I got 100 reps again in the next workout so
I increased the weight again (to 100 lbs).
In THAT workout, I was
able to get only to 70 reps before lactic acid got
me and I had to take a brief rest. What that happens,
set the handle down, shake out your arms for a few
seconds then immediately grab the handle again and
keep going (maybe 3 to 5 seconds rest). You might
get another 10 reps before you have to set the handle
down again and give the lactic acid a chance to clear.
Repeat this pattern
until you get the full 100 reps, even if you're only
getting a few reps at a time towards the end. The
key is to just give the lactic acid a chance to clear
a little then go right back at it.
This gets you past what
I call "chemical failure" and allows you
to really push the muscles harder. It keeps the blood
in the muscles and really builds that microcirculation
without letting lactic acid totally limit you.
And yes, before you
ask, this style of training IS good for fat loss.
The lactic acid you get from this style of training
boosts GH release and can be used very effectively
for fat loss.
But here's the only
it also results in a LOT of muscle damage
(especially the first few times you use it). If you're
on a low-calorie diet, your body doesn't have ample
nutrients and energy to recover from it so it can
longer to recuperate from.
The other issue is that
when you're on a diet, your glycogen levels (and potentially
water levels) are lower. This means you may not get
the same volume of blood pushing through your muscles
to help build that microcirculation.
100 Rep Leg Press
In this exercise, you
actually have a moment at the top of the movement
where you can lock out the knees and release the tension
in the muscles, which allows for some clearance of
lactic acid. Take this into account when doing the
exercise. The first set I did of this, when I hit
80 reps, I felt like I need a break but instead of
setting the weight down, I locked out my knees and
shook my quads out a bit and kept going.
Dumbell bench press
- now we get into how to know when to adjust the weight
you're using. On the first set of this, I got 50 reps.
Then I used the short-rest technique to continue the
set all the way to 100 reps. If I would have gotten
UNDER 50 reps, I would have kept going but decreased
the weight in the next workout in order to go straight
through as much as possible.
As it was, because I
hit the 50, I decided to remain at the same weight
for the next workout and see how I improved. In the
next workout, I hit 70 reps with the same weight and
80 reps the following the workout, before having to
take brief rests. When I would have hit 100 reps straight
through THEN I would have increased the weight and
taken it from there.
So the rule of thumb is, if you get less than 50 reps
on the first attempt, reduce the weight next time.
If you get more than 50 reps, stick with the same
weight next time. If you get 100 reps, increase the
weight by the smallest increment possible next time.***
On exercises like leg
press and preacher curls, you'll find there are points
in the exercise where you can release the tension
in the muscles and rely on skeletal support for a
moment. This is a good way to keep the exercise going
and keep the reps going straight through.
That's 100 rep training!
It's not too complex
but these tips should help you make it work in your
training. If you've hit a plateau in your muscle building,
this could be just what the doctor ordered to get
yourself back on track.
This type of training
should be done for at least 2 weeks (or 6 to 8 workouts)
but not any more than that, if you're looking to build
muscle. It'll help build microcirculation but because
the weights are so light, you don't want to use it
for too long. It'll take you probably at least a week
to get past the soreness
once you do, then you'll
really be able to see what your body is capable of
SQUAT TECHNIQUE - Delaying Fatigue
I mentioned that technique
for doing squats with this 100 rep technique. Here's
what I did
20 sets of 5 reps with
5 seconds rest between sets, using 135 lbs on the
I basically took a weight
I could get probably 30 to 40 reps straight through
and did 5 reps with it. Then re-racked the weight
and took a few seconds then got back under and did
5 more reps with it. Naturally, the first 50 or so
reps with this technique were fairly easy. The brief
rests with an easy weight allowed me to keep going
strong for a lot longer than if I tried to go straight
With an exercise like
the squat, which is so demanding on the whole body
and which requires good form and balance, this meant
I could KEEP that good form and balance for longer
than if I tried to go straight through.
Then the NEXT 50 reps
is where it got harder
and those last 20 reps
This brief rest (if
you've used EDT or my Time-Volume Training, this will
be familiar to you) allows you to delay fatigue and
You can use this style
of training on other exercises, too, especially ones
that are more demanding, like deadlifts, etc.
I can promise with
this technique you'll either love it or hate it (or
love it THEN hate it :)