T Nation

Manipulating Sets and Reps for Maximum Results

So I got a question that’s been bothering me for the last several days. For the past several months I’ve been mainly training for strength (3-5 minute rest btw sets, 1-3 reps). However, recently I started training for muscular hypertrophy (90 sec rest btw sets with 2-10 reps).

My reps would drop significantly, something like this 10, 7, 5, 3, 2 (same weight for all sets) since I just started implementing much shorter rests.

My concern is that since I’m aiming for growth, and with the combination of short rest periods and low reps, what’s the outcome/benefits?

Would you guys only strictly recommend 8-12 reps with short rests for growth and 1-3 reps with long rests to get strength, or mix the reps and sets altogether and possibly get the best of both worlds? Greatly appreciate your feedback.

I personally like to mix things up. I dont go heavy for more than a few weeks and I dont go light for more than a few weeks. And even then I vary my weight from one week to the next. If I get stuck at a given weight, Ill carry it over to the next week, but if I dont get it, Ill change up. As far as rest on the light days I still rest a good 2 - 3 minutes between sets. Im not a young guy worried bout every last bit of conditioning I can get. I figure lifting is good enough for me.

Check out the ideas at hypertrophy specific training - www.hypertrophy-specific.com and see what you think.

I’ve heard lots of guys say “low reps for strength and high reps for size” but I think it is a simplistic notion.

Theoretically combination methods work best. From an adaptational persepective muscle growth occurs as a result of mechnical damage, metabolic damage and possibly occlusion.

Thus heavy lifting should cause the mechanical / tensile damage. Manipulating rest periods and higher rep sets should elicit metabolic damage.

You can include both methods into your training sessions, separate heavy sessions from metabolic type sessions throughout the course of the week or specify training blocks to train a specific quality.

By reducing your rest periods for your heavy sets you will reduce your force production capacity initially. Some suggest that, neurally, a work:rest ratio of 1:12-20 is necessary for recovery. Less so for metabolic recovery. Over time due to an increase in work capacity I’m sure that your strength will return.

There are many training variables we can manipulate. Doing so ensure suitable variety. No one particular method works best, everything seems to work for a given period.

There’s no clear answer to this question. If you do anything that is new to your body and eat properly, you will grow. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “everything works, but not forever.” Reps are a loose translation of time under tension which is the more important factor.