Many people ask, what is the best exercise for a specific muscle? Is the barbell curl the best bicep exercise or is it the concentration curl? While this may be a good question an equally important question that never seems to get asked is which repetition matters most?
When performing a set of any strength exercise each repetition contributes to the fatigue that is required to stimulate adaptations in the target muscle. In the grand scheme of things, there are two repetitions that significantly influence the benefits of any given strength exercise.
The first repetition of an exercise sets the tone for the entire set. A strict and deliberately performed first repetition sets that stage for the remaining repetitions of that set. If the first repetition is good, it is likely that the remaining repetitions will also be good – so pay close attention to your first repetition.
The second repetition that matters most is the last repetition. This is the repetition where you should be working as hard as humanly possible. This repetition determines how much of a training stimulus the exercise will impose on the target muscle. Maintaining perfect form on this last repetition is important because proper form ensures the target muscle will get the full stimulus you intend to deliver. It also keeps the exercise safe at a time when poor form can put you at high risk for injury.
Therefore, to get the most out of every exercise begin and end with perfect form. This will ensure the exercise is both highly effective and very safe!