3×10 reps….are we correct in our administration of this protocol?

Blog written and presented to you by Clinic Manager Jason Dodd and member of the Physiotherapy Department at Bodylogics The Sports Therapy Clinic.

During my time in the Clinic I have seen many injuries which have benefited from soft tissue work or manual therapy to aid the healing and recovery of the bodies structures (whether that be muscle, ligaments or things like joints). Where I and the rest of our Team can help in the treatment room, the real differences lie in what the client does and can do AWAY from the treatment room.

Regular sports massage and manual therapy has been shown to improve sporting performance, reduce the risk of injuries and aid recovery. BUT there is a limit to how much effect it can have and a structured and specific strength training programme will ensure you remain at the top of your game and greatly reduce the risks of any injuries occurring. These two approaches combined (manual therapy and specific strength training) could be argued to be the ‘perfect recipe’.

When setting our training programme or rehabilitation programmes, many people often assume that the exercises will take the structure of 3 sets of 10 repetitions. This concept and theory is hugely outdated now. But where did it initially come from an what should you do now instead?

To cut a long story short, Thomas Lanier DeLorme was the founder of this method and it all began in 1939. A US army general approached DeLorme after he had knee surgery and had been advised to do light weight training and told that he would never fully recover. DeLorme could see that limited progress had been made so changed to his own method of training and offered his advice to the Army General.

In fact, DeLorme advised the General to use the maximum amount of weight he could could muster for as many reps as possible. Using iron boots, The General would perform leg extensions for as many as 70 reps on each leg. An unorthodox approach that resulted in an almost perfect recovery. As word of the General’s rehabilitation spread, DeLorme’s profile grew. Other army men began to listen to DeLorme’s advice as his message of ‘heavy resistance training’ gained weight.

Luckily for DeLorme, and one supposes very unluckily for his patients, the United States was in the midst of WW2 when DeLorme’s rehab career kicked into action. This meant an almost unprecedented amount of soldiers were seeking help to recover from damaged ligaments, bones and stress fractures. A perfect sample size for DeLorme’s theories. DeLorme soon joined forces with Dr. Arthur Watkins, who held similar views and history began to be made.

In 1945, DeLorme wrote a paper, “Restoration of muscle power by heavy-resistance exercises,” published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Utilising over 300 cases, he found a

SPLENDID RESPONSE IN MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY AND POWER, TOGETHER WITH SYMPTOMATIC RELIEF

once patients adhered to his method of 7-10 sets of 10 reps. Lifters would begin with a light enough load and ramp up until their 10 rep max was used. Nevertheless, in 1948 and again in 1951, DeLorme and Watkins revealed a change in their thinking

FURTHER EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THIS FIGURE TO BE TOO HIGH AND THAT IN MOST CASES A TOTAL OF 20 TO 30 REPETITIONS IS FAR MORE SATISFACTORY. FEWER REPETITIONS PERMIT EXERCISE WITH HEAVIER MUSCLE LOADS, THEREBY YIELDING GREATER AND MORE RAPID MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY.

And it was in this instance that the 3×10 rule was conceived and has been around ever since. Physiotherapists continue to use it in today’s treatment rooms but it has it’s limitations. Studies are increasingly showing that this simplistic approach is behind times. Take this approach here from the Ohio State University, their return to running and rehab programme guideline is structured in a way which references the typical 3×10 rule almost never!

Times have now changed and clients/patients expect greater care and greater results when seeking private medical care. We as a Clinic aim to change the perception of the 3×10 rule and acknowledge that each individual is unique and different so will have differing requirements. This is not to say that the 3×10 rule is ineffective. It is simple to remember and easy to adhere to which is why it is still commonly used. But, as clinicians, we need to start challenging these simplistic routines and begin to alter the way people see Physiotherapy and how they can remain injury free.

If you are suffering from an on-going injury or wish to gain an advantage over your competitors with guided fitness training and advice on remaining injury free then visit our Physiotherapy Department, Osteopathy Department or take up our Personal Training sessions which are sure to set you on the right path. Call us on 020 8368 9220 or use our online enquiry form here.

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