The reason we do this every single day is that slow-twitch fibers require frequent work and lots of volume. Doing these two sets every single workout is the most efficient way to accomplish that stimulus.
Naturally, you're going to need to use some fairly light weight to be able to get that many reps, but don't just be a rep counter and stop when you get to 80. Push yourself to keep going and get as many reps as you possibly can. The high reps are what will train your slow-twitch muscle fibers.
DO NOT do any heavy or even moderately heavy training for your target muscle group. It should be ALL light-weight, very high rep whenever you work it. We want to really take away all stimulus to the larger, fast-twitch muscle fibers and focus on training only the smaller slow-twitch endurance-oriented fibers.
For the REST of your workout (for the muscles you aren't trying to reduce in size), you can feel free to use heavier weights and lower rep ranges. It's only the target muscle group you want to absolutely keep to very high reps.
If your purpose is to reduce calf size, one of the most appropriate exercise would be standing calf raises. This is how to do it :
- Stand on the foot block of a Standing Calf Raise machine on the balls of your feet and duck under the shoulder pads. You should have a comfortable separation between your feet and your toes should be pointing forward.
- Start with your heels down as far as possible in a good stretch. Keep your knees straight and stiff but not locked. Rise up onto the balls of your feet and squeeze, moving only at the ankles.
- If you don't have access to or don't wish to use a calf machine for various reasons, calf raises can be done freestanding on just about anything raised up (e.g. stairs, blocks, books, etc.) or even from the floor.
- They can be done one leg at a time as well. This is a more advanced variation for those who have built up some strength in the calves.
And just because you're training to reduce muscle size, it doesn't mean it's going to be easy work! You do need to push yourself on these high-rep sets, not just go through the motions and count to 100.
As I mentioned above, this is a two-pronged approach...training and nutrition. So now that we've got the training covered, let's move on to nutrition, specicially post-workout nutrition as that is going to have the biggest impact on your muscle reduction program.
Your muscles require protein to rebuild and recover. So what we're going to do is deprive your body of protein during the post-workout period by not eating any protein for a few hours after training.
By not eating protein right away, you will force your body to eat up some of its own muscle tissue for recovery purposes, further helping to reduce muscle size. Immediately after your workout, take in some simple sugars to help get the recovery process started (sugary drink mixes like Tang or Gatorade are good). Eat only carbohydrates such as grains, fruits, and vegetables for a few hours after exercise.
You can eat protein during the rest of the day, just not during the post-workout period (for at least 3 hours after).
It does take a bit of time for the muscle fibers to respond to this type of training but it will happen if you stick to the high rep sets and keep it up consistently.
The size of your muscles will obviously be your main gauge as to whether the training is working for you or not, so use a good tape measure and measure your target muscles (at the same place on the muscle each time!) on a weekly basis and at the same time of day to control for outside factors such as food and water intake (first thing in the morning before you've eaten or drank anything is best).
So if you're looking to reduce muscle size without getting flabby, give this type of training a try! The high reps may be painful, but they will transform your muscles and reduce their size, getting your muscles where you want them to be!
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of the online personal training company BetterU, Inc. He has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been inventing new training techniques for more than 16 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding eBooks including "Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss," "The Best Exercises You've Never Heard Of," "Gluteus to the Maximus - Build a Bigger Butt NOW!" and "The Best Abdominal Exercises You've Never Heard Of" all available at http://fitness-ebooks.rxsportz.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.