Many people have the idea that there are some kind of magical beginner gains, like in the beginning when one first starts training everything is easier and then it gets incredibly harder with time passing...

They say that by the 3 year mark one starts to stop to see any gain. From experience I can say it is literally the other way around.

Started from a point that I could barely hold myself on my own feet, no joke, was suffering from anorexia.

And now it seems the more I train the better I get, while in the beginning I was struggling to even begin. I was struggling to get to the start line, while now I'm in continuous linear acceleration.

When regarding bodyweight training I understand that there is a point where increasing repetions doesn't matter anymore.

Like walking, if you are used to do 10k steps a day as a baby, the next day you can easily jump to 30k steps, you will feel tired but that's a 300% increase in one day.

I did experience something like that with push ups when I first started training, in the last 5 months.

I was struggling to do 1 push up and a few crunches for an entire month. The first week was hell and wanted to give up continuously.. But then I suddenly jumped from being able to do a maximum of 19 push ups to 38 in like 3 days... Then 45 the day after... And topped at 123.

Now I started weight training.

But Imagine that if I continued bodyweight training, it could've become just like waking, where you can do giant improvements in one day because the exercise becomes so easy that it doesn't even matter.

It would be like lifting a feather 1 time versus 1000 times, it doesn't burn your muscles, just bores you to death.

So my question is, is there a specific point where effort becomes null, when hard exercises become like walking?

2 Answers 2


This 2018 study looked at the hypertrophy effect of training at different loads (20%, 40%, 60% and 80% of 1RM), in which training at lower loads would be involve a higher number of repetitions, and higher loads would involve fewer repetitions. This would have reasonable applicability to high repetition bodyweight training, as you can compare the results of this study based on the number of reps that trainees were able to perform in each exercise group, rather than the load. Specifically, the mean number of reps reached for each load were as follows.

| % 1RM | Mean reps elbow flexion | Mean reps leg press |
| 20    | 67.7 ± 18.7             | 61.1 ± 29.9         |
| 40    | 28.2 ± 10.5             | 30.8 ± 8.0          |
| 60    | 14.5 ± 4.7              | 18.8 ± 5.9          |
| 80    | 10.2 ± 2.8              | 14.0 ± 4.6          |

What they found was that there was no difference in hypertrophy between the 40%, 60% or 80% groups, but the 20% only experienced about half as much growth as the other groups. From this we can infer that if you're doing more than about 30 reps of an exercise, you're getting to the point where the benefit will probably diminish as you continue to increase the reps, and once you get up to 60-70 reps, you're only getting about half the hypertrophy benefit that you would if you could load the exercise to make it harder. (Note: This assumes that you're going until failure. So if you can do 70 pushups, but choose to stop at 30, that's not better than a set of 70 just because you only did 30 reps. In fact, it's certainly worse. To get the benefit of a set of 30 done to failure, the resistance has to be great enough that you can only do 30 reps.)

There's a good summary of this study in the May 2018 addendum of this Stronger By Science article on hypertrophy rep ranges.


I don't really understand the question. Effort never becomes null, it doesn't even approach null.

Let's take your example of lifting a feather. How far do you lift it? How do you lift it? Do you lay it on a finger and lift it 1 millimeter? Or do you hold it in your hand with your arm hanging by your side and lifting it overhead? Huge difference.

External resistance is the same: the weight of the feather. Range of motion is way different, but so is the total resistance: you also have to lift the weight of your arm.

Walking is a good example. Everybody can walk and make thousands of 'reps' (steps) a day. The reason we can is because it is a bio mechanically efficient movement, our bodies are built for taking thousands of steps a day and we literally start practicing it from about 1 year old.

But still, effort doesn't become null. Most people should be able to walk 10-15 km fairly easily. With some training you can get to 20, 30 or even 50 km and beyond. But I don't think there is anybody in the world who would say it was effortless.

  • Off topic, I know that about weights.
    – user34398
    Nov 19, 2020 at 18:57
  • @Rian I must have misunderstood your question. Could you maybe rephrase? Nov 19, 2020 at 19:32
  • I mean when the weight remains the same and you just increase repetitions, at what point does it become so easy that the limiting factor for not doing thousands of reps is boredom and not fatigue?
    – user34398
    Nov 19, 2020 at 19:33
  • Rian, This gets into the realm of the difference between strength and endurance training. A marathon runner might make 26,000 repetitions on a run but Eddie Hall performed only one deadlift rep at 500kg. ATP production, glycogen storage, etc., all factor into this. Generally speaking, the heavier the weight being manipulated, the fewer number of reps that will be performed. This isn’t a perfect rule as individual variation is huge across the population.
    – Frank
    Nov 19, 2020 at 23:27
  • @Rian I have edited my answer. Nov 20, 2020 at 7:21

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