When you first start training, any little thing you do in your workouts, makes your body respond right away because it has never been stimulated that way before. This is true whether it is resistance training or cardio such as biking, swimming or running.
However, what happens when you have years and years under your belt exercising? Our bodies are remarkable in that they respond and react to whatever we throw at it. It adapts to what we do, eating, sleeping, training. It compensates so it can run in its most efficient mode possible even when we do things to it that are not healthy.
This means, that when you have been training for years, your body adapts to that training by building muscle and endurance to withstand whatever you are putting it through. So how do you work through a slump when it seems that you are no longer getting anything out of your exercise routine?
One thing I like to do to get out of that funk is 100 rep sets, also known as century sets. That’s right, 100 reps. I am not talking about ten sets of ten or five sets of 20. I mean one set, 100 reps.
Why would I do this? In order to show the body who’s the boss! I have no science behind it other than I know it kicks my ass. Chances are your body has never had to perform such a set in the gym so it is not ready.
There are several ways one can do this but I will tell you my method which I have found to be great in annihilating the body part you are trying to shock.
First, let’s talk about the exercises. I like century sets on major exercises for the body part you are targeting. For instance, chest would mean incline benches rather than flyes. So the following are the exercises I would do for each body part:
Chest – Incline or Flat bench
Shoulders – dumbbell shoulder press
Back – Lat pulldowns
Legs – Leg press or squats
I never do century sets for arms only because they are tiny muscles compared to the other body parts and I don’t see a need to shock them that way.
Now let’s talk about how I perform the exercise. Always make sure you use a spotter when using a free bar. If using something like a Hammer Strength or Smith machine, it may not be necessary.
Next is, what weight should I use? It sort of depends on how you train already. If you are used to doing 20 rep sets, then you should have a good gauge as to a weight to hit for the century set. If you perform lower reps like 3-6, then it may take a couple of workouts to find the perfect 100 rep set weight.
The goal on the century set is to not pick a weight that you end up knocking out all 100 reps in one shot never stopping. If you do that, then you went too light! Preferably, I like to pick a weight where I can knock out about 40 reps then take 10-15 second rests (and no more than that) to knock out another 10-15 reps, until I hit the century mark.
I know some purists will say that taking even a 10-15 second rest is cheating and not really doing a 100 rep set, but I disagree. There is a big difference between picking a weight that is going to be hard for you to do for 100 reps with very short rests versus picking a weight that you will hit all 100 reps consecutively without a pause. You do want to exert and stress the muscles as much as possible. The super short rest period allows you to do this and it is why I recommend it because it allows you to go a little heavier.
Let’s face it; I have seen many people doing heavy sets of ten in the squat where they are taking a 5 second or more pause before the next rep as they approach 10. Does that mean they really didn’t do a set of ten? Of course not. The same is true with a century set and resting 10-15 seconds at the 40 rep or above mark.
I would recommend doing century sets for one, maybe two body parts in a week for three to four weeks only. It is quite a shock to the system so you don’t want to do it for an entire week on every body part.
So if in a funk and you want to do something completely different, go for the century mark to be….Fit Forlife!