The Benefit Of Low Rep Sets
When people talk about the number of reps they are doing, they usually correlate this with the weight on the bar. Higher reps means lighter weight, and as the reps go down, the weight goes up. Once they get to 5s or 3s, they are doing some pretty high % work. While this is a necessary part of training for strength, especially once you are attempting to peak or preparing to test your maxes, there is a benefit to doing lower reps with a lighter weight.
Keeping the weight lighter when you are doing lower rep sets will give your mind some space to work. If you are constantly pushing at really hard sets, regardless of the number of reps, it is very hard to focus on your cues. We tend to revert to our habits and practiced tendencies when things get tough. By doing sets of 5 with your 10 rep max, or sets of 3 with 80%, you are still working with a good weight but the low reps mean you aren’t going to be at RPE 10, and you can focus on your technique rather than just getting the bar off of you.
This is how you practice patterns, “greasing the groove” as some people say. By doing reps over and over where you are giving your full attention to doing the rep perfectly, you develop your tendencies so that when you actually lift heavy, you don’t revert to bad form.
It might not feel amazing to do sets of 3 with weight you could do for 8 reps, but having a perfect squat feels awesome and crushing PRs come meet time feels even better.