Doing a high rep finisher to end your workouts is nothing new. Whether you’re trying to pump a little more blood into your biceps or just “rep out” on the bench press, one last set of max reps just often feels like the best way to end an exercise. However, there can also be GH and strength benefits, too. The question is how to add a high rep finisher to your routine, and does it matter what your workout looks like? Read on to find out.
It’s long been known that finishing off an exercise by repping out can cause a temporary increase in GH. However, what hasn’t been known is exactly what effect this actually can have on you. Sure, adding a high rep finisher can burn out a muscle and psychologically make you feel like you trained harder, but is there any real benefit?
A Japanese study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research says yes. Long story short, they tested a group of 17 male students over 10 weeks. For the first 6 weeks, they did leg press and leg extensions on a fairly standard hypertrophy-based program. Moderate sets and reps were done with varying weights.
However, the group was then split for the last 4 weeks. Both groups used 90% of their 1RM for 5 sets, but one group then also added a high rep finisher – a set with 50% of 1RM done for max reps to failure. Rest was kept at 3 minutes between sets.
Since almost any strenuous activity can lead to an increase in GH, both groups experienced this. However, participants in the group who did the high rep finisher were found to have higher levels of GH in the hour after their session was over. More importantly, this same group also gained more strength and muscle size than the group that didn’t rep out at the end.
The simple answer is “yes”. The above study has proven that a set of max reps can increase GH levels more than normal. It also showed a correlation between said higher GH levels and increased muscle size and strength levels, too. Plus, there is really no known downside to temporarily spiking your growth hormone. So if nothing else, it’s a matter of “there’s no reason not to”.
However, just because the test group was lifting super-heavy, that doesn’t mean you have to. Strength-based protocols are obviously effective, but a typical hypertrophy program using more middle of the road intensity with moderate to high volume works just as well, too. Just add one last set to at least one exercise per body part (compound movements tend to work best). Load 50% of your 1RM and do as many reps as you can until you hit muscular failure.
All that being said, go ahead and add a high rep finisher into your program today. You don’t have to do one for every muscle group, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. They’re effective on strength or hypertrophy applications, and one set of repping out with half of your 1RM is all you need. This should cause growth hormone levels elevate higher than normal, as well as lead to increased strength and muscular size.
Also make sure to check out our write up on the best rep range for size.