REPerformance Fitness & Lifestyle Platform | Free Trial

The 4 Laws

While squats, deadlifts, curls, crunches or hang cleans all will impact fitness, it is the way we set up the 4 laws that determines what type of impact they have. 

Where am I going with this, sets, reps, load and rest? These 4 things will have the largest impact on training outcomes. 

I guess I should go back a step first. What are the outcomes? Well, there are a number of attributes we can aim for when training, strength, hypertrophy, power and endurance. Of course, we can get even more granular than that as each one breaks down a little further as well, but let’s just start here and get a clear understanding of those. 

Strength is when we measure a muscle’s ability to move its maximal load. For example, let’s say someone can squat 100lbs for 1 technically sound rep. That is how much stronger than can be produced maximally when squatting a load. 

Hypertrophy is when we expose a muscle to a stimulus that instigates muscle growth. For example, your bicep is 14” and after 3 weeks of training your bicep is 14.5”. 

Power is literally distance x load divided by time. This is when we move weights or our bodies with the intent to move the weight as fast as possible. An example would be: we put a light load on a bar and have a student start with the bar on their chest and on “go”, press it to lockout as fast as possible. 

Endurance is a muscle’s ability to endure a task or load for an extended period of time. For example, here, let’s say we decide to perform 10 military presses each minute for 8 minutes. 

Of course, there is overlap here between outcomes but they are all governed by the 4 laws: reps, sets, load and rest. The next step is taking the outcome and applying the correct laws to it in order to get the desired response. 

Strength Laws

When training for strength the standard rule is 3 to 5. Meaning 3-5 sets, 3-5 reps, 3-5 exercises, 3-5 minutes rest, 3-5 times per week. On the intensity front, your last reps of each set should be a challenge to complete with perfect form. As a beginner, lean towards the 3 and as an experienced lifter move towards the 5. 

Power Laws

Training power is when great coaching really applies as loads are light, meaning the feedback to the student from the weight will be subtle. As for the laws here, we are 2-4 reps. 2-4 sets, 2-4 minutes rest 2-4 times per week. The most important piece of power is intent. The student must be in the mindset of moving the load or their body as quickly as possible for each individual repetition. I like to frame these sessions as more of a race-style format, providing the cue of “Go!” at the beginning of each rep. 

Hypertrophy Laws

Hypertrophy is the easiest routine to program but the most difficult to complete. Here our laws are 10 to 30 reps (meaning you can do one movement for one set of 30, or 3 sets of 10 reps of the same movement), 3 exercises per muscle group, 2 times per week per muscle group and 1-2 minutes rest. Hypertrophy is a mixture of volume and activation. Volume is the first piece which is why it is the total number of reps that is most important, not the sets. Next is activation, when trying to grow tissues we need to make sure that the target muscle is contracting. Select a load that allows the student to focus on the muscle itself, not the weight. Each set should be completed with the last few reps causing a burn feeling not a struggle to move the weight.

Endurance Laws 

Endurance is when we are looking to move loads in a way where the muscles become efficient, not stimulated to grow. Our governing laws are 10-15 reps, 3-4 sets, 3-4 times per week, and 1-minute rest. For this outcome, we are not looking at feeling a sense of burn or fatigue at all in the muscle. The feedback to the student is an overall feeling of being warm or sweating. 

Bringing it all together

Since every outcome is governed by the 4 laws we can prescribe any drill and just change the laws to change the outcome. Here is a group example. 

20 students in a grade 12 fitness class separated into 4 groups of 5, with a prescribed day of back squats. 

Group A does back squats for power meaning 3 sets of 3 reps with 3 minutes rest of very light loads moving each rep as fast as possible. 

Group B does back squats for strength meaning 3 sets, 5 reps, and 3 minutes rest, with heavy loads. 

Group C does back squats for hypertrophy performing 2 sets of 15 reps, with 2 minutes of rest. This group focuses on contracting their leg tissues by moving up and down under control studying in constant tension. 

Group D does back squats for endurance. This group does 3 sets of 15 reps with 1-minute rest in between using a load that doesn’t challenge their muscles as much as it challenges their heart rate. Now that we understand the laws and the 4 basic outcomes we come all the way back to exercise choice. 

I have shared a big chunk of information here with the intent for it to be as simple as possible to apply. When it comes to application, we need to cover context. 

Over 15 studies have confirmed that the largest determinate of outcomes in programming is whether the subject is trained or untrained. Therefore, these processes I have shared will not even matter from grades 7 to 10 (yes I know you will have outliers here, but I’m focused on the masses). So keep these in context please, it is not a race, it is a lifelong experience. First and foremost all students should have spent at least a solid 2 years learning the 7 principal movements, building knowledge of all the different types of equipment and having the competence of full range of motion. This way we build a solid foundation to place goal-targeted training on top of. 

Schedule A Demo To learn more about REPerformance and how to leverage it in your classroom to build individual pathways to success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *