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The 100 repetitions challenge

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Here is a brief summary:

  1. Challenges make the body and mind more resilient. The real gain comes not from the result, but from the perseverance needed to see the challenge through
  2. This is a 6 week challenge. Each week you will spend two days training with barbells, two days training with 10 repetitions and two days training with the weight sled.
  3. The 100 reps workout consists of one upper body day and one lower body day. You will perform 100 repetitions of each exercise until you move on to the next exercise
  4. For strength, you will perform two exercises per week. In the first two weeks this will be 3 sets of 5 repetitions, during the third and fourth week it will be 3 sets of 3 repetitions and during the last two weeks it will be a 5/3/1 scheme
  5. For your conditioning, you will push the weight sled six times in 40 meter intervals using either a heavy, medium or light weight.

Stamina: The reason for challenges

Challenges may seem meaningless, but there's something amazing about choosing the hard way, fighting like crazy, and reaching the finish line.

Still, many people will simply shake their heads at those who seek out challenges and wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such trivial things.

They overlook the real purpose of these challenges. The work and perseverance required to achieve a goal is what really matters. These things strengthen your body and mind and make both tougher. They will teach you determination and how to fight through mental and physical pain.

Challenges give you the opportunity to test your limits. How far are you willing to go? Do you have what it takes to keep going when you can't already see the light at the end of the tunnel?

More importantly, these challenges, if they are hard enough, teach us that anything is possible. I'm not ignorant enough to think that one day I'll grow wings and be able to fly, but sometimes when the obstacles may seem insurmountable, I can fall back on the strength I've built through these "trivial" challenges.

Challenges give you strength and momentum that carry over to real life.

The Challenges

The performance goal of the 100 reps challenge is simple: successfully complete all of the workouts listed below. Don't miss a day or a repetition. This is not a workout to increase your weights on the bench by 15 kilos in two weeks or build a centimeter upper arm circumference during one training session.

We are training hard work, mental strength and work ethic.

These training sessions were not randomly put together on a napkin. I have combined strength training, conditioning and hypertrophy training in a way that will allow you to train each area over a 6 week period.

I've used these 100 repetition exercises over the years during my recovery periods, but it wasn't until Paul Carter and I took the time to do some brainstorming on how to incorporate them into a viable training program that it all came together.

The 100 reps challenge is something special. You get strength training from the heavy barbell exercises, conditioning from the weight sled workout and the 100 reps workout, and hypertrophy from the 100 reps workout.

Regenerate and grow

You will get exceptionally sore muscles. Expect it and learn to appreciate it. It's only 6 weeks and something you should demand of yourself.

This is not the time to sacrifice sleep, stretching or flexibility training. This is not a time to define. Defining is for people who don't have the discipline to eat right most of the time.

This workout will allow you to earn hearty meals. It will force you to learn about recovery.

The 100 reps workout is great for hypertrophy - you'll get into a range that most will never know. It's also great for your tendons and will give you an insane pump.

Your body will change during these 6 weeks - your arms, trapezius and hamstrings will grow and your conditioning will improve too.

Overview of the training weeks

  • Monday: Lower body training with weights
  • Tuesday: Lower body 100
  • Wednesday: Work with the weight sled
  • Thursday: Upper body training with weights
  • Friday: Upper body 100
  • Saturday: work with the weight sled

There are two days dedicated to strength, two days dedicated to conditioning and two days dedicated to hypertrophy.

100 repetitions training

The following exercises are performed exclusively with 100 repetitions. The whole thing is not really complicated. Just do 100 repetitions in one set.

It's only 3 exercises per day and trust me, that's all you'll need. Don't feel obliged to do more exercises - just do the exercises as prescribed.

If you feel that the weights are too heavy for your current level of development, then simply use less weight. The weights given are intended for exercisers who have 5 or more years of training experience. They are not easy, but they are realistic.

And if you have doubts, then stop doubting. You need to expect more from yourself.

Upper body 100

1. front lift with a weight plate

Perform this over the full range of motion i.e. until your hands/the weight plate is above your head. Using this range of motion will challenge your upper back and shoulders.

Weight: a 10 kilo weight plate.

2. barbell curls:

Weight: a 20 kilo barbell

3. karowski rowing

This is a kind of hybrid exercise of shoulder lifts and upright rowing. You hold a heavy barbell in your hands and move it up to your belly button using a rowing/shoulder lift movement. Hold the bar there for one second and repeat the movement. Do not use any grip aids.

Weight: 60 kilos (one Olympic bar and two 20 kilo discs.

Lower body 100

1st Bulgarian split squat

These are performed with one leg in front and the back foot on a bench.

Weight: your body weight only. Complete all repetitions for one side before switching legs. You perform a total of 100 repetitions - which means 50 repetitions per leg.

2. leg curls

Lie on the floor or a bench. Move both legs at once.

Weight: 5 to 10 kilo weight cuffs on the ankles.

3. sit-ups

Anchor your feet under something stable, cross your arms in front of your chest and perform sit-ups.

Notes on the 100 repetition workout:

  • Feel free to replace any of the exercises listed with another exercise of your choice, but I can only recommend the exercises listed above. These were chosen for a number of reasons
    • to target areas of weakness in development - areas that people want and need to develop
    • because of the ease with which 100 repetitions can be performed
    • because they can improve mobility
    • and because of the simple challenge of getting better.
  • You can pause during the 100 repetition set, but you must not put the bar down and you must not make the exercise easier during this time (e.g. by lying down during the pauses between sit-ups). If you are in doubt about what pause means, then you are probably doing something wrong.
  • Consciously tense your trapezius and upper trapezius hard in the highest position of the front raise. Stretch your arms as much as possible.
  • Your exercise form will probably diminish over the course of the set - this is to be expected. However, you must still try to maintain some integrity during the set. The weight is light enough that you won't hurt yourself, but the purpose of performing an exercise is to exhaust and finish the muscle - not just complete the reps.
  • You will get sore muscles - be prepared for that.
  • You can rest as long as you like between exercises. Don't bring a stopwatch - you're in the gym, not on the track.
  • You need to learn how to relax your mind during these sets - don't focus on the pain. You have to learn how to separate yourself from reality.
  • I attack the first 50 to 60 reps without pausing, then pause briefly to catch my breath (okay, not really) and then do sets of 10 reps. This makes it mentally easier to endure these sets.

It also helps if you have someone to count your reps for you. You will inevitably lose track when your mind starts to wander away from the pain.

Overview of strength training

Week 1

Monday

Exercise

Sets

A

Squats

*

*

B

Good mornings or deadlifts with straight legs

3-5

5-10

C

Hanging leg raises

3-5

10-15

thursday

Exercise

Sets

A

Bench Press

*

*

B

Standing shoulder press

5

10 * *

C

T-bar rowing or dumbbell rowing

5

10-15

Week 2

Monday

Exercise

Sets

A

Deadlift

*

*

B

Good Mornings or deadlift with straight legs

3-5

10-15

C

Hanging leg raises

3-5

10-15

thursday

Exercise

Sets

A

Standing shoulder press

*

*

B

Bench press

5

10 * *

C

T-bar rowing or dumbbell rowing

5

10-15

* first two week block: 3 x 5; second two week block: 3 x 3; last two week block 5/3/1 sets and reps

* * You choose the weight

Notes on strength training

  • This is a six week program. You will train twice a week. Since only two exercises are performed per week, you will only complete one 5/3/1 cycle within the six week phase.
  • In other words, during the first two weeks you will perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions. During the third and fourth week you will perform 3 sets of 3 repetitions and the last two weeks will be 5/3/1 weeks.
  • No exercise may be replaced. If you substitute exercises, then it is no longer the program.
  • The "5 sets of 10 reps" on the bench and press are performed at about 50% of your training maximum. This is only a base value and can be changed. It is important that you challenge yourself and perform the required repetitions.
  • Hanging leg raises can be performed with bent knees or straight legs (or a combination of both).
  • Feel free to push yourself hard on the last set of the 5/3/1 sets - this is entirely up to you and also depends on how you feel that day. I would recommend that you push yourself hard during these sets, but still leave 2 to 3 repetitions "in the tank".

Training sessions with the weight sled

Perform six 40 meter runs with the weight sled on Wednesday and Saturday(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YilIki1x1Fo). Walk while pushing the weight sled. The slower workout will force you to take full strides and strengthen your legs. There are no guidelines for rest intervals as they don't matter.

Do the work - this is all about making your legs stronger. Your fitness will automatically improve.

Choose three weights for the weight sled: heavy, medium and light. I use the following weights:

  • Heavy = 120 kilos
  • Medium = 80 kilos
  • Light = 40 kilos

Adjust these weights to your strength and the surface you are pushing the weight sled over.

Wednesday

Perform two 40-meter runs with each of the weights: light, medium and heavy. In my case, that would be two 40-meter runs with 40 kilos, two 40-meter runs with 80 kilos and two 40-meter runs with 120 kilos.

Saturday

All six 40-meter passes are performed with a medium weight. In my case, this would be six 40-meter runs with 80 kilos.

Final thoughts

If you are unsure about this challenge, then spend the next 4 weeks incorporating some of the 100 repetition exercises into your current training and see how you get on. This will give you some time to get used to the breathlessness and soreness.

However, when you feel ready, jump straight in at the deep end - and don't just dip a toe in the water.

Once you've decided to take on the challenge, take 35 blank sheets of paper. Write down one of the training sessions on each of these pages, so that each training session has its own page, write down the complete training session you will do each day.

Write it by hand and do not type it on the computer. Writing it by hand gives it personal meaning and reality - it's something tangible. It becomes a reality. Get a small ring binder and label it "100 repetitions challenge". Leave your cell phone in the car or in your training bag - the ring binder is all you need.

Leave some space at the bottom of the page for notes. Then write down what you ate, how you slept and what you did to improve your recovery for the next training session. Be proactive in all areas.

This ring binder will keep you accountable for all areas of your training and help you see what needs improvement and what you are good at.

Yes, this 6 week challenge is going to suck, but it will teach you a lot about yourself and you will develop the mental and physical toughness that many of us strive to achieve through heavy iron.

Source: https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/100-rep-challenge

By Jim Wendler

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