2. An example from my personal workout routine is that I’ll always start with a big, compound movement of around 4 sets of 4-6 reps. All of the exercises after that, I’ll use a rep scheme of around 8-15 reps for the best of both worlds. Or is it better to use a rep range that’s halfway between strength training and hypertrophy training? First, we need to take them closer to muscular failure to reliably provoke muscle growth. Yes – it’s called myofibrillar hypertrophy, an enlargement of the muscle fiber as it gains more myofibrils. Dr Schoenfeld noted that the participants doing sets of 25–35 reps were in incredible pain and would often throw up after finishing their sets. In the above image, the orange circle is a cross-section of a myofiber, the red circles are myofilaments. Different methods work best for different people. This results mainly as increased strength and a bit of dense muscle. Even just comparing the popularity of bodybuilding versus strength training, we see that bodybuilding is several times more popular: But even so, most of us also care at least a little bit about improving our general health, general fitness, and general strength. Yes. Hypertrophy training for size typically uses higher rep ranges with a lower weight. Didn’t even know Outlift was a thing. For more content on the building muscle with low reps, nutrition, and workouts, get TRAIN magazine direct into your inbox every month for free by signing up to our newsletter, two groups perform either 3 sets of 10 reps or 7 sets of 3 reps. They aren’t matching the sets, comparing 3×4 versus 3×12 to see which stimulates more muscle growth, they’re matching the volume, comparing 7×4 versus 3×12. You aren’t lifting heavier weights, though, so there’s no extra fatigue or strain on your joints. Within that same 20-minute timeframe, they’ve stimulated the same amount of chest growth, they’ve doubled their triceps growth, and they’re probably still feeling fairly fresh. In the section, “Are Low Reps Good For Building Muscle?”, the math doesn’t seem to be right. Both groups gained the same amount of muscle because volume load was equated (even though the latter group performed 9 total reps less, both groups lifted around the same total poundage). In bodybuilding, though, where the goal is to build bigger muscles as fast as possible, most people do sets of 8–12 reps. A bigger muscle is a stronger one, so lifting in rep ranges that stimulate muscle growth is the most efficient way to gain general strength. Doing 24 sets of 3 reps, maybe 2–5 minutes of rest between sets, a few warm-up sets beforehand, we’re talking about a good 2–3 hours of work. Hi. If we look at the overall research, we see that sets of 1–3 repetitions, and perhaps even sets of 4–5 repetitions, don’t stimulate as much muscle growth as moderate reps do. Very low rep (1-3) sets: These sets even though they’re extremely heavy, seem to be far too short to match the hypertrophy of other sets (4). Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. That said, the below guidelines can generally be used for athletes who have spen… Many people are simply interested in building bigger muscles. We can do higher reps without being limited by our fitness, it doesn’t tend to hurt that much, and it might be safer. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is the main increase in strength that we see occur in most power-based sports (powerlifting, weightlifting, throwing implements). That’s called Reverse Pyramid Training, like so: Set 1: 4 reps with 265 pounds Set 4: 4 reps with 255 pounds. I can certainly relate to that. Should we use different rep ranges for different lifts? 9-12 Reps - Increase sarcoplasmic hypertrophy at the maximum rate. This type of hypertrophy involves the growth of muscle fibers. That way when you do 8 reps, you have 2 reps left in reserve. How many reps should you do to build muscle mass? These studies aren’t doing that. Of course, I’m sure most people would prefer to go with the moderate rep range for fewer sets, for reasons you mention some of later in the article, but this calculation just wasn’t accurate by total volume of reps. Volume isn’t calculated via reps (at least not as far as I’m aware and not in the hypertrophy research I’ve seen). Of all the studies comparing rep ranges for muscle growth, the most famous is the study by Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, that we covered in our strength training article. The exception to that rule is powerlifting, where our strength is measured by how much we can lift for a single repetition. We can gauge our strength by how much we can lift in moderate rep ranges instead. There is a spectrum through which myofibril and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy occur: 1-5 Reps - Lead to a maximum increase in relative strength and myofibril recruitment. Myofibrillar hypertrophy usually occurs withing the 6 – 8 rep range (Using a weight that you are only just able to complete 6 – 8 reps per set) Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is when the muscles sarcoplasm ( Fluid within the cell membrane) increases. Lifting in moderate rep ranges is great for improving our general health and fitness. But sets of five reps are right on the cusp of being ideal for gaining muscle. You can do that with 2–3 full-body workouts per week or with body-part splits.”. What does that actually mean? It seems that muscle growth is maximized by doing 4–8 sets per muscle group per workout. Now, most research shows that we build more muscle per set when doing at least 6–8 reps per set, and that may be true. It found that the same amount of muscle growth from doing seven low-rep sets as from doing three moderate-rep sets. Including burn out sets. If we want to lift things overhead, we should be doing lifts like the overhead press. Lateral raises: 2 sets of 20 reps. But are low reps good for building muscle? Hypertrophy can happen utilizing any rep … The most controversial question, by far, is where the lower cut-off is. This means your rep ranges will be around 1-5 and your rest times around 3-5 minutes. Then, with 30–40 reps per set, the workouts start to become increasingly miserable. Schoenfeld: We recently published a meta-analysis on the topic that clearly shows hypertrophy can be attained across a wide spectrum of rep ranges – … When you increase the weight from set to set while keeping the reps the same, those are usually called “ramping sets.” That can stimulate muscle growth, yeah, but it’s probably not ideal. My personal hunch is that low-rep sets (of around 3-5 reps) are a bit less efficient for muscle growth on a per-set basis, but not quite to the point of needing to equate for volume load. It’s possible that doing a set of five reps stimulates about as much muscle growth as doing a set of six reps. And even if it doesn’t, the difference is surely quite small. The first rep feels almost as strenuous as the last. Heavier weight will build muscle density, but don’t rely on just that – switch it up. Some people’s shoulders ache when they bench too heavy, others when they bench too light. It kicks off with a 5-part series about how to build muscle more leanly, gain strength faster, and improve your appearance. How to Train for Myofibrillar Hypertrophy. It’s important to note the one study by Mangine et al that showed greater arm growth from doing sets of 3-5 reps than from doing sets of 10–12 reps. Myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic – both types of muscle hypertrophy are important to grow your muscle size. Here what 7 experts and our in-house expert, WBFF Pro fitness model and digital editor, Altu Kop had to say. For instance, lifting from 3 reps all the way up to 20 reps per set? If we compare to how a bodybuilder trains, we can see the advantage of using moderate rep ranges. That means there’s no need to train for or test our 1-rep max to gauge our strength. We also have researchers like James Krieger, MS, favouring sets of 8+ reps. Set 1: 8 reps with 225 pounds, 3 reps in reserve As a result, it’s often better to use lower reps: 4–10 reps per set. Specifically, the 1-5 rep range is best for gaining strength. To hit more on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, sets in the 8-15 range are ideal. So instead of doing 6–20 reps for every lift, we want to use different parts of the rep range at different times. However, almost everyone agrees that using the middle of the rep range tends to make building muscle easier, safer, and more efficient. Set 2: 6 reps with 255 pounds While the other 2 sets stimulated mostly stimulated strength? 4 sets of 12 reps. Or it could mean doing 4 sets of 10–12 reps, starting with a weight you can do 10 reps with, trying to get more reps every workout, and adding weight every time you’re able to do 12 reps. That’s the approach commonly used in Reverse Pyramid Training programs. If we take the low end of the low rep range (2×24) we get 48 reps, against (8×13) 104 reps for the high rep range. Great article. Hypertrophy Rep Ranges. Rather, when reps are low, total volume should be calculated. It’s an easier and more efficient way of building muscle. As we’d expect, the participants lifting in lower rep ranges saw greater improvements in their 1-rep max strength, but the moderate rep ranges proved to be a more efficient way to stimulate muscle growth. It is often said that myofibrillar hypertrophy directly corresponds to increased strength and maximum force output. The occasional example of a discordance between hypertrophy and strength gain (for example http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/22518835 (5)) is not, no matter what the pundits think, due to a ‘sarcoplasmic’ hypertrophy in the low-load condition.