T Nation

Best Number of Reps for Mass


#1

CT wrote an article recently about different types of people working better with different rep ranges.

personally, i have more fun with lower reps. i like using heavier weights! however, i also like putting on muscle. although lower reps are more fun for me to do, im not sure which one helps me put on muscle easier.

so what works best for everyone else?

1-3, 3-5, 6-8, 8-12, 12+, etc.

now, we all "know" and read that 8-12 reps is good for hypertrophy, thats not what im asking. im asking what people have actually found to work best for them. thanks


#2

3-6


#3

It depends on what muscle group.

Legs: 15-20
Back: 12-15
Chest: I wish I knew. Probably less than back
Shoulders and Arms: 6-8
Calves: 25-1,000,000,000

I know we all see a lot of stuff about how 10X3 for everything is the cutting edge for hypertrophy and is the greatest thing ever. I don't feel that way. 15-20 reps for Romanian Deadlifts and Squats will make your legs so big so fast that you'll almost wish you hadn't started lifting legs in this range since none of your pants fit your enormous upper legs or your massive ass.


#4

Well I hope you know that diet plays the biggest role in mass.


#5

i agree to an extent but it depends on the person. higher reps dpont do shit for me really. 95% of my mass gains to date have been from doing 8 or less reps. I do like a good pump though.


#6

I use a protocol of 6 to 9 sets of 3-6 reps per bodypart, warming up first... kinda like max ot.


#7

Whatever works for you. High-Reps for legs doesn't help with strength as much as reps below 6 do.


#8

of course. i almost put in my original post that the reason i probably wasnt quite sure what rep range was the most productive for me in terms of putting on muscle the fastest is because with college and work and blah blah, i dont feel i have been consistent enough with my diet over a long enough period of time to really tell what each rep range does. add to that injuries and such, i figured id just keep the question simple. kind of like "assuming everything else was perfect..." but perhaps i should have said that. but yes, i know you can have the "magic" rep range and still not do shit without proper nutrition.


#9

If you wanna lift heavy and gain some muscle, you can keep your heavy weights and up the volume by adding sets or doing rest pause. If you want a pump, do heavy drop sets.

As you can see, rep range isn't the only thing in training that determines how much mass you'll gain.


#10

1-3 reps have made me huuuuuuuuuuge! OK, at least I'm bigger than I was.

I think it is best to train for strength gains not size gains.

Stronger ALWAYS EQUALS Bigger
Bigger sometimes equals stronger

The first makes much more sense. You get two things for the price of one.

Oh, my last workout every week is a lighter one with reps in the range of 5-8.

I'm thinking the science behind this working for me is:

Early in the week do 1RM on the big lifts. Growth hormones, test, etc. gets released because of these heavy training.

Later in the week, with all this anabolic crap floating around doing some more bodybuilder style rep ranges means I grow huuuuuuuuuuuuge!


#11

5-8


#12

I feel that the older you get the higher the rep range should be. Not because of safety reasons, but because your muscles become much denser and grainy with the higher reps.

When I was younger my main range was 4-8 upper and 11-16 for lower. However now that I am approaching 40 the rep ranges of 15-25 upper and 20-30 for lower (and sometimes more) have proven to give me more muscle mass. I still lift progressively heavier, so don't confuse this. Always strive to lift heavier than last session.

I also think that diet plays a bigger role the older you get.


#13

you work up to 1rm every week? what kind of method(s) do you use to continually make progress/keep from plateauing?


#14

If he's smart he's using the Conjugate Method. There's no other way to max out weekly other than to cycle the exercise you're maxing out in. If there is, tell me about it.


#15

1

more than last workout. And one more the workout after that.


#16

I think it depends a lot on the individuals.

A test I like a lot is to take a few exercises (works best for single joint exercises), and measure your 1 rep max. Don't use calculators that would defeat the purpose.

Once you have measured your 1 RM, wait at least 5 min (or do it on another day), take 80% of the weight and do as many reps as possible to failure.

Some people can only do like 4 reps with that weight while some rare exception do more than 20 reps. Average is around 8. And most 1RM calculators are based on this. There is speculation that people that do low reps have more FT muscle while people that do higher reps have more ST muscle. Also from what I have seen and read, this number does not change regardless of how you train and how much you train. But you might get slightly different numbers on different exercises.

Anyways the idea is that whatever number you get, you stick to that +/- 1 or 2 reps, but use a load large enough to stimulate gains. Obviously someone that can only do 4-5 reps with 80% 1 RM will need to use ridiculously light weights to do high reps. Not productive.

On the other hand someone that can do 15+ reps with 80% 1RM would probably do well with high reps since he can handle more weight at higher reps.

Now this part is very speculative, but is based on my experience. If you fall in the low rep end of the spectrum, high volume may not be for you. These individuals will tend to fatigue very fast, so lot of sets might not be beneficial. And if multiple sets are used, still stick to low reps. On the other end people with high endurance, might do better with more volume.

In my case, when I did the test for military presses. I found out that my 1RM was 20 pounds higher than what was estimated by the 1 RM calculator. But I was only able to do 5 reps with 80% of that weight. So the calculator was totally off in this case.

So I increased the load and lowered the reps from 8-10 to 4-6 and I have been increasing in shoulder size and strength ever since. It's been 2 months since I made the changes and I have not reached a plateau yet, which is another positive.

So I think the load is more important than the # reps. Make sure you work at a high enough % of your max and adjust from there.


#17

That is my case. To use higher rep ranges i have to lower the weights too much, get a pump but not much in ways of stimulation and strenght = i cant progress much using high reps. Soon some signs of distress appear.

On the other hand i can do 9 heavy sets and feel energized, get a better pump and progress with ease.

Of course that is my case.
A friend of mine thrives doing 9 to 12 sets per bodypart in the 8+ rep range.. with drop sets and everything.


#18

I am like this on the Bench Press. Does this mean my chest is predominantly fast twitch?


#19

Perhaps. Or maybe your triceps or anterior delts or your whole upper body. You can do the test outlined above on multiple exercises and draw your own conclusions.


#20

For all exercises I use 8-10 reps. When I can do more,or 10 easely then I add more weight