T Nation

High Weight/Low Reps or Low Weight/High Reps First?

If I am exercising a muscle with some sets in a lower rep range, and some sets in a higher rep range, which kind (high or lower) of sets am I best doing first? Is it a matter of personal choice or is one better for muscle development? Any advice appreciated. Thanks.

Idk if it’s right, but I always liked to start heavy and finish high rep. I’m not big and haven’t been lifting long, so take this as anecdotal rather than advice lol but it has suited me well as a beginner. I’m sure your end goal also comes into the equation. My thought was always I should probably have a little strength first before I started worrying about hypertrophy

Edit to add, I think a lot of the 5/3/1 programs are made to where you get some moderate weight low rep stuff first, followed by some lighter higher rep stuff.

If you’re looking for muscle development, try high weight for high reps.

But if it’s between the two, most people would say to do your heavy work first and then hammer assistance with higher reps afterwards.


Rather than spending a lot of time warming up, I started doing some of my accessories first as a warmup.

Upper body:

3 Giant sets of 15 reps:
Incline curl
Rear delts
Floor press

Worked up to 4 rep max of Floor Press w/chains
superset with Palms-up Kickbacks for a few reps

Strict curl 5x5r
superset with Javelin Press 3x8r

Two easy 80 yard Prowler runs

I do back with lower body.


Well usually, from what I’ve seen in most programs, high rep sets of an exercise come after low rep sets of that exercise. So if you’re doing the same exercise in different rep ranges, it seems to make sense to go heavy+low reps first, light+high reps after. Intuitively that also just feels right, but I’m sure there’s a reason for it.

If you’re doing different exercises, probably the nature of the exercise (e.g explosive vs compound vs isolation) or other programming related factors (like whether you want to pre/post exhaust, etc.) would be more important. But personally I would still want to do heavy low rep stuff first and then move to high rep assistance/isolation/accessory stuff. That’s usually the best way to do it - most knowledgeable strength coaches I’ve seen use that as a default approach.

1 Like

Please let this turn into a pre-exhaustion debate.


Within the workout you can hit relatively low reps 3-6 on exercises that it works well for like your big movements first because they take more energy, focus etc. e.g. squats then move onto something that better facilitates higher reps 6+ like leg press.


Thanks for helping out guys.

1 Like