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Low vs. High Reps

I’m trying to bulk and I know you’re supposed to do high weight, low reps (e.g., 5x5s), but I think my situation is a bit unique. I find that when I’m at a weight that I can only do 5 of, I don’t feel it that much in the intended area, whereas if I lower the weight just a little, I can do about tripple the reps and I really feel it a lot.

For example, when I do dumbell bench presses at 35 pounds each, I can do 20+ reps and I really feel it in my chest and shoulders. However, if I go to 45 pounds, I reach complete fatigue after about 6 reps and don’t feel it in my chest or shoulders. My arms are just too tired to do any more reps. (Yeah, my weights are light; I’m a scrawny beginner.)

Obviously I’m lifting a much higher total volume at 35 pounds unless I do tons of sets at 45 pounds. Am I really better off doing the slightly higher weight and fewer reps? Has anyone else ever had such a big discrepancy in how much they can lift when they slightly change the weight? Thanks for any advice!

It’s only the case for upper body exercises actually. I feel it plenty from 5x5 squating or deadlifting. I have much stronger legs than upper body. I deadlift and squat about double what I bench.

I’m pretty new myself, but just from reading on this site, higher weights with fewer reps (and consequently more sets) is targeted at increasing overall or maximal strength. Doing higher reps with less weight will promote more hypertrophy, and will make you ‘bigger’ faster.

However, There’s a limit to that, and using heavy weight is necessary to stimulate the most muscle growth, which is why most seem to use a varying set/rep scheme, i.e. one day high rep, another day heavy weight, another day a compromise between the two.

I’m sure someone can explain it in much better terms than that, but that’s the gist of it.

I’m a firm believer that to stimulate the maximum amount of growth you need to use a variety of rep ranges.

two articles that should get the gears turning:

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=05-099-training

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=05-091-training

don’t be affraid because you don’t ‘feel’ it, or don’t get ‘sore’. you don’t need muscle sorness to prove that you are providing a stimulus. chart your progress, and if your improving, that’s all that matters, not how sore your tits feel, or if your shoulders feel like they’re gonna fall off.

Low vs. High Reps is only part of a lift. The second part is load (how much weight). Low reps (3-5)=90% of your max load (superheavy).

High reps (6-10)=70%-80% of your max load. For beginners I would recommend hypertrophy (muscle growth) program for 12 weeks to build a base and move onto advanced program. Try personal trainer’s favourite 3 sets of 8 reps with 80% load (heavy). The thing is that when you do endurance training (very high reps, light load) you involve mostly type 1 muscles that have resistance against the fatigue (also called red muscles).

These muscles are not big. When you are doing RE (repeated effort or 3 sets of 8, or something like that) you stimulate the growth (hypertrophy) of type2-a and type2-b muscles that are responsible for strength and size. When you are doing ME (maximum effort, low reps, superheavy) you use all muscle types. Bodybuilder’s muscles look a little bit different from powerlifter’s muscles. Bodybuilder’s muscles are more round from RE work. Powerlifter’s muscles dont look round, they have squary (is it a word)shape from ME work. Take a look a at this link:
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459411

[quote]JNeves wrote:
I’m a firm believer that to stimulate the maximum amount of growth you need to use a variety of rep ranges.

two articles that should get the gears turning:

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=05-099-training

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=05-091-training[/quote]

There’s a difference between a belief, and a fact. You sir, are completely right. While there are pleanty of gifted people out who can stick to one training style, one rep range, one group of movements, all year round and still make gains(weather it be genes, diet, enhancements), not everyone can do it.

For the average person, hitting both ends of the spectrum works best.

Use both IMO

Do some HEAVY lower rep work with the BIG money exercises one or two a session then a few others in a more repetition fashion. The Type two fibers are smokin and a taxed a bit from the Hevay work and the RE work will finish them while they are still ready to fire and tap into the type 1’s etc for maiximal growth.

Or go frequency and hit varied rep ranged on different days.

I wouldnt put myself into a box with one specific rep scheme.

Phill