Understanding Distance Traveled When Equating Volume
I posted this crazy 700lb. deadlift for almost 5 reps by Lorenzo (CLICK HERE), but I figured I’d give a little more insight into this, as recently we have tried a different approach for Lorenzo’s deadlift and it’s obviously working with great success. And really the game changer lately has been higher rep deadlifts. This was almost semi on accident, as recently due to the pandemic we had to switch gears a bit, because Lorenzo simply did not have enough weight in his garage to be doing anything competition specific below the 7 rep range on sumo deadlift. But I believe what we are seeing here, and I’d say with many sumo deadlifters, is the same thing I see on bench press with high arch benchers.
When we discuss volume, we typically see that accounted for in the equation of sets x reps x weight. But if we are going to be more precise with that equation, distance traveled needs to be accounted for as well. I’ve posted before about how I generally program with an understanding that based on someone’s height or range of motion, we then tend to see individual differences in how someone performs within reps at a given percentage. A great study I remember seeing in MASS a year or so ago in regards to bodyweight/femur length being directly correlated to how many reps someone can perform at 70% of their 1RM on squat, and that ranged anywhere from 8 reps to 26 (CLICK HERE FOR STUDY). So coming back around to Lorenzo, sumo deadlifters, and high arch benchers, we see in comparison dramatic decrease in distance traveled per rep compared to the norm. Take someone who is conventional deadlifting and has short arms, and they may be traveling twice the distance per rep as Lorenzo travels in 1. So while I am not advocating that we all need to track distance traveled to have a more precise volume equation, as this would be incredibly hard and tedious to do. But what I am saying is that it is a variable that needs to be accounted for in regards to understanding total workload for a given athlete and their training response to that.
Now for Lorenzo, I could in sense do 7×3 or 3×7 to equate volume, but I already know from experience that 7×3 is going to beat Lorenzo down. So to manage enough total distance traveled within a workout, these higher reps are proving to be extremely efficient for increasing total sets x reps x weight x distance for Lorenzo. He is a high arch bencher as well, as we’ve seen this to be true on his bench as well.
At the same time, I have lifters who do not respond well to high reps. Patrick is another 93kg lifter (CLICK HERE) who is very similar in strength to Lorenzo, yet anything over 5 reps on deadlifts and squat seems to destroy him. So that is why we need to think critically as to why this works for Lorenzo. Rather than seeing higher reps work for him and applying it universally, from my theorizing, what I can take away from this is that due to his range of motion we are seeing a good uptick in strength due to finding ways to increase true volume in factoring total distance traveled within a workout into the equation. Is this the only reason high reps may work for someone? No, as there are plenty of other variables as well. But for someone like Lorenzo who is at an advanced training age and very muscular, the benefits of high reps for hypertrophy are going to be less advantageous than for a beginner. So for him I believe what we are seeing is a different variable of high reps allowing for greater degrees of distance traveled to be attained, equaling higher “true volume” added.