When it comes to building strength and creating muscle mass, there are facts and rules you need to take seriously and there are myths you need to ignore.
Probably one of the most common “rules” you’ve heard of is that heavier weights work best with low reps for building muscles and lighter weights work better with high reps to get shredded.
This may be true, but there are certain steps you need to take to push your training further without wasting unnecessary time and effort on exercises that may be useless.
If you are committed to knowing the right way to build muscle, it’s best to start with the right information. If you want to know which rep range is best for building muscle, I would like to share with you what I have learned through many years of training and hard work in the gym.
What’s in a Rep?
The rep ranges you need to follow will depend largely on what your goals are because certain ranges work best for certain results. The number of reps you need to perform to increase power, for example, will be different from the reps you need to do if you want to build strength. If your goal is muscle growth or hypertrophy, you will be performing a different set from what you would do if you wanted muscular endurance.
Muscles thrive on repetitions. When specific groups of muscles are targeted again and again, they grow better, get harder and bigger. Of course, if you do your research, you will find that suggested rep ranges for certain exercise goals vary, depending on the source of information.
Years of training have taught me that higher rep ranges are the best choices for a specific goal. To give you an idea about what works for me, here are the rep ranges I recommend based on the type of goal you might have for muscle building:
- Power – 1 to 5
- Strength – 5 to 10
- Hypertrophy – 10 to 15
- Endurance – 15 or more
As you can see, the rep ranges I presented are a bit different than those suggested by other trainers. For building strength, for example, I suggested 5 to 10 reps while other trainers suggest 6 to 8. For hypertrophy, I suggested 10 to 15 reps instead of the more popular range 8 to 12 reps. For endurance, I suggested 15 or more, instead of the 12 or more popularly suggested.
Getting in the Right Zone
Now that I have introduced the proper training zones you will need to improve your training, let me explain the differences so you know what to look out for. Improved power, for example, means that your explosiveness has increased, thereby improving your ability to carry heavier weights with increased speed.
Strength, on the other hand, is not about how fast you can move a certain weight. Instead, it means being able to sustain yourself through a resistance exercise, regardless of how long it would take for you to complete the challenge.
You should know by now that strength and power depend on your ability to move heavy weight. However, hypertrophy is a different animal. Hypertrophy means an increase in the size of the muscle.
True, you will experience muscle growth by performing the rep ranges suggested for the strength and power zones, but you will get better, more impressive results if you focus on the suggested rep range for hypertrophy.
Of course, do not forget endurance. Endurance is the ability of your muscle to keep doing what it does for a sustained period of time. You might be asking what the role of endurance is for building muscles.
Endurance plays a critical role for helping you gain your desired results. The better endurance you have, the more effort you can put in and the better your performance.
Theoretically, this means that you can produce a better outcome when you work out to achieve the goals you have for the other training zones. After all, it is endurance that allows you to go the distance, to push yourself further, to work harder and to perform one more extra rep.
Harnessing the Crossover Benefits of Reps
Now that you have learned the crossover advantages of rep ranges, you are probably wondering how you can use it to improve your workout.
Here is what I want you to remember:
Avoid a single rep range. Focusing all your energies in just one range is good as a short-term goal but do not forget that there is an interrelation between training zones. Try periodization instead to improve continuously.
Periodization is when you choose a certain rep range for a specified period of time, say 3 to 4 weeks, then continue to another rep range, this time for a different training zone. Once this is done, you either move to a different training zone/rep range or return to the rep range you started in.
This is a popular approach and it is effective, but there really is no reason not to use the time you have to build your body by using everything that all the training zones can offer. I also use periodization to create strength and bulk but I also go through all training zones in one workout. That way I use the time I have to maximize the benefits of the workout.
To give you an idea about what works for me, I use sets of rep ranges regularly that allows me to use all training zones. I call these sets the Power 5 and the Big 5.
The Power 5 consists of 5 x 25-5-10-15-20 rep ranges while the Big 5 consists of 5×25-20-15-10-5 rep ranges.
To start, use the initial 25 reps as your warm-up to prime your muscles, then use the next four sets each for a training zone. If you want to focus on strength or power, try the Power 5 set. If endurance or hypertrophy is your desired result, use the Big 5.
The great thing about these sets is that these are flexible enough to be used in a number of ways. Use the set that has the rep range you want for a specific training zone. The benefits of these sets are two-fold: you get to see immediate benefits by training in the right zone and long-term benefits by training across several rep ranges.