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Save energy and build muscle with the ladder method

Have you ever reached the end of your workout and wished you could get a little bit more out of your efforts?

Pushing through might seem like an impossible task; however there is a technique that can help you combat fatigue and still provide great results – the ladder method.

The ladder method is a technique that staggers your reps in a way that manages your exhaustion but still works your muscles.

The beauty of the ladder method is that it can be applied to a number of exercises, including bicep curls, lunges, presses, squats and pushups – basically anything that requires repeated sets.

How to use the ladder technique

Typically when doing reps you will do sets of 10. With the ladder method you start with as little as one rep and incrementally increase the number as you go.

The pattern of the ladder method will typically looks like this:

1 Rep – Rest – 2 Reps – Rest – 3 Reps – Rest – 4 Reps – Rest – 5 Reps – Repeat

By taking a short rest in-between each rep you can manage your energy, and by repeating you can get to your target number of reps.

When doing ladders that go in ascending order, you’re following the most fatiguing set with the least – allowing your body time to recover and rest, maximising the benefits of the ladder technique.

Alternate ladder formulas

If you want to change up the formula, you can easily do so. Alternate ladder rep numbers could look like:

2 – 3 – 5 – 2 – 3 – 5

2 – 3 – 5 – 10 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 10

You can also go for the opposite, starting high and ending lower. By starting with 10 and gradually working your way down to one, you will have managed to do 55 reps without feeling completely fatigued.

For those looking for even more variation, you can use a wavering ladder technique, which follows a pattern that alternates between high and low, for example:

10 – 1 – 9 – 2 – 8 – 3 – 7 – 4 – 6 – 5

Additional tips

The key to getting the most out of the ladder method is to stick with the same weight throughout the entire exercise to ensure consistency.

The amount of time you rest between sets can vary depending on how tired your body feels. After the initial rep you might barely rest, and after the maximum number of reps you might want to rest for around 30 seconds to a minute to catch your breath.

You should be aiming to go into each ladder rep with relative ease, and rarely be straining to get through the steps.

As you become more familiar with the exercises you are doing, you can increase the number of reps or add additional weights.

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