How Many Reps Should You Do To Build Muscle?
So you’re about to go to the gym but before you got you decide to come up with a plan whilst you’re there. You start by writing down a bunch of exercises, sets and rep ranges. You then you stop and think “is this right?”
You then you stop and think “is this right?”, are these rep ranges going to help me to towards me goal? How many reps am I supposed to do to get big or how many reps do I do to get strong?
The majority of online posts don’t really help you and asking people at the gym only makes it more confusing! Some people won’t go above 5 reps whereas others will keep lifting until they cant.
So what’s the right rep range for you and your goal? Different goals, require different forms of stimuli and therefore different rep ranges.
Studies show that if your main aim is to get stronger then its best to keep the reps low. Anywhere from 1 to 6 reps is best for building strength.
Lower reps stimulate the CNS more efficiently, improving contraction resulting in more force! The 1 – 6 rep range also stimulates Myofibrillar Hypertrophy.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy increases strength by developing the muscle by increasing the force-generating components in the muscle fibre. For optimal results, it is recommended that you take 2 – 3 minutes rest in between sets and keep a tempo of 1 second up/1second down during the lift.
If you are wanting to grow your muscles and actually look bigger but aren’t bothered about strength then this one’s for you! Training in the 6 to 12 rep range still results in myofibrillar hypertrophy resulting in some strength gains but not as great as the 1 – 5 rep range. The main muscle growth comes from a form of hypertrophy called Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy causes the muscle to be filled with more carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, more organelles as well as more cellular fluid (hence the “pump”). Having more of these present in the muscle results in a larger looking muscle! This is the main reason why bodybuilders look stronger than professional weight lifters, although they have bigger muscles, they are not as strong.
For optimal results resting for 60 – 90 seconds and training with a controlled eccentric and powerful concentric will improve results. Another great tip is to try to maximise time under tension for serious growth!
If you require muscle performance for long durations than endurance training is for you! Training in a much higher rep range will improve muscle endurance. Performing reps anywhere from 15 reps to failure is a great way to improve endurance.
However the majority of the time you will actually deplete your energy stores before depleting the muscle itself. Doing this will force the body to become more efficient at energy usage and will adapt to this metabolic stress.
Training for endurance will not make you anywhere near as strong as the previous two, however, you will be more efficient. This will allow you to use lighter weights, for more reps and for a greater time whilst using less energy.
For optimal results, rest 60 – 90 seconds between sets whilst lifting at a tempo of 2 up and 2 down.
The Rep ranges you pick is all dependent on your goal. If you can’t decide on your goal then you can train for all three by mixing up the rep ranges on a monthly basis!
One thing to note is that it is important to pick the correct weight. If you can’t complete all the reps then lower the weight and likewise if you could easily do a couple more increase the weight!
A goal is a dream with a deadline – Napoleon Hill
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