Just about everything you do with weights, by applying the law of progressive resistance, will gradually give you greater muscle strength. Be it high reps, or low reps. But, there are optimal ways for gaining either size, or strength, and I’d like to clear up any confusion people may have about which is the optimal way to build strength.
When we think of strength, what do we think of? The guy who can do 500 push ups non stop, who is obviously strong. Or, do we think of the guy who can lift the huge bar loaded with so many weights it bends? I think of the latter, and I think most people do too, but let’s take a look at both types.
I see strength as being split into two kinds, endurance strength – the guy who does push ups (less weight, more reps) or explosive strength – the guy who lifts the weight of half a car (more weight, less reps.)
In order to build endurance strength, simply pick a weight which you can handle comfortably for 10-15 repetitions, and see if you can’t keep adding reps or sets every session. This will build muscular endurance strength.
For explosive strength, you need to load the bar up with weights which approach your maximum one-rep capacity. For working sets (after you’ve warmed up) around 80% of your one rep maximum should be used, with reps of 5, and for 3-5 sets.
The idea in this is, the weight is so heavy that endurance is not an option. The sets are short because there is no way you can lift the weight you are doing far beyond 5 reps. If you can, you’re lifting too light.
This type of training targets the fast twitch muscle fibres in your body, responsible for the short but explosive bursts of power. For sheer explosive strength of this type, you must continue to train like this, adding weight to the bar as regularly as possible, but in small increments to avoid sticking points or injury.