Workout Tips

On Trial: High Reps or Low Reps?

What works best for high-endurance muscle fibers like abs and calves?

On Trial: High Reps or Low Reps?

calf muscle


Looks like going heavy on ab day is a good thing. Using a selectorized ab machine, the pulley for rope crunches, or a plate or dumbbell can help you stimulate those fast-twitch muscle fibers and maximize your ab development. Just be sure to perform all movements in a slow and controlled manner. The object is not to go as heavy as you can, but to make the lightest weight feel as heavy as possible by concentrating on squeezing and holding each contraction.


Hitting calves with a variety of exercises and repetition schemes is essential to keep them from getting stale and coerces them to continue growing. Remember to keep your knees fairly straight when hitting the gastrocnemius, and to include seated varieties of calf raises to stimulate the underlying soleus muscle. Regardless of your rep range, be sure you can perform most reps with a full contraction by raising your heels as high as possible and squeezing the calf muscle.

Whether training abs or calves, follow these suggestions to cycle your repetition scheme with heavy (5-10 reps) and light (12-25 reps) phases:

  • Try switching from the heavy to the light phase every 3-4 weeks.
  • Or try a shorter cycle of switching heavy and light from week to week.
  • You may even want to switch heavy and light phases from workout to workout.
  • Mixing up your rep scheme within a workout is also effective. You can start out with exercises performed with heavier weight in the beginning and progress toward lighter weight for the exercises at the end of the workout.
  • You can also mix up your reps within an exercise by starting off heavier and lightening the load as the sets progress.

Don't forget that when you train abs and calves with heavier weight, you need to let them recover as you would your other muscle groups. Follow heavy days with at least 2-3 days of rest before hitting the abs and calves again. 


For access to exclusive fitness advice, interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!