More reps? Do a heavy single first!

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Do you want to produce more repetitions on your bench press, for example? Then this might be a good tip: do a heavy single first .


It may sound a bit contradictory to do one repetition with a heavier weight before your regular set. But a recent study found support for this.

The ‘secret’ lies in post-activation performance enhancement, or PAPE for short. This is the phenomenon whereby an athlete performs better in a certain activity if another (heavy) activity has preceded it. For example, better performance during the long or high jump by squatting beforehand.

The research has shown that PAPE can also occur during strength training, namely by slightly increasing the number of repetitions you can do during the bench press.

The researchers compared repetitions to muscle failure at 80% of 1RM after a warm-up, or a warm-up plus a single of 93% of 1RM six minutes before the set. The average increase was just over 1 rep. The study was conducted among well-trained subjects.

The exact mechanism behind PAPE is not entirely clear. According to hypotheses, it could be related to increased muscle temperature and calcium availability.


According to coach Menno Henselmans, PAPE is especially useful for ‘powerbuilding’ type programs in which you do short heavy sets of 1-5RMs.


Also according to Henselmans, the method can be beneficial for bodybuilders in two parts: on the one hand, you also do a bit strength training, and on the other hand, you increase the quality of your most important work sets.

Specifically, you do your warm-up sets and finish with a heavy single before your main sets.


Coach Ryan Solomon of Revive Stronger also likes ‘PAPE training’:

I wouldn’t do this for all your exercises, but it’s probably not a bad idea to try it here and there.

We are going to try it with our barbell bench press.

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