T Nation

Optimal Rep Range For Size/Strength

I’m currently writing out my plan for the new year…I stronlgy believe in the past I failed to make the size increases because I didn’t train at a high enough intensity (% of 1 rep max) I would follow the BB protocols of 8-12. I am also becoming addicted to stretngth training (lower reps)

My question might seem elementary, but here goe: if I abandon these higher brackets, I mean like never going above 6’s…FOR LIFE, do you think a great deal of hypertrophy can still occur along with the obvious strength gains??? thanks in advance, happ new year to all…

Definitely. Charles Poliquin has written on numerous occasions about how one’s training age is associated with which rep range is most beneficial. Summarily, the longer you’ve been training, the more likely you are to derive greater gains from low reps.

A lot of things go into that - mostly individual but to me the big question is what precisely are your goals of training. Lets discuss, In faith, Coach Davies

Coach D, thanks for responding. You have responded to some of my other posts, thanks for that too. Basically my goals are to get extremely strong in all of the compound lifts (big 3)including cleans, snatches, jerks, etc. At the same time I want to get bigger, as I am fairly lean now (160s with 7% BF) I want to hit the 190s by June 03 while maintaining a similar BF %. Like I said in the first post I think I should abolish my hihger rep brackets in favor of 6s and lower…any my focus is on my hamstrings, and back, as these are clearly my weakest points…Thoughts?

Coach Davies, I sent a reply but it never posted…

anyways, goals to be specific are to get very strong on the basic compound movements and their variations (big 3, etc. ) and also the olympic lifts (clean, snatch, etc.) Coupled with that strength, I want to gain 30 lbs of functional LBM…while keeping the same BF% (right now in the 160s with 7% BF, want to break the 190s by June 03) My focus areas are my back and hamstrings as these are my weak points stregthwise and size wise, and they have they biggest potential for large gains.

I’ve become rather convinced that you cannot cause proper hypertrophy at low rep ranges (even with increased calories).

If I exercise at the 2-6 range (and eating above maintenance to reach one pound a week) I put on 1 lb of muscle for every 2 lbs of fat. Not a very good improvement rate!

If I exercise at the 8-12 range, the ratio goes to about 2 lbs of muscle for every one pound of fat.

I believe that there are different types of hypertrophy, and that the hypertrophy developed while going heavy is a different variety that when going lighter. As an example, you can train in the 8-12 range on a periodized scale, and it won’t increase your 5rm much (vs. if you had trained in the 4-8 range). But if you’re stalling out in the 4-8 range, you can make good gains by falling back to a new 8-12 range.

Crap, I vote this my most vague post ever. Sorry, I can’t seem to voice things well today.

I was under the impression, that low reps (3-5), and about 10 sets, is also good for hypertrophy. Correct me if I’m wrong.

lol - still laughing at El Machine’s mention of his reply because this might be worse. I think what you may be looking for is really a blending of the more technically complex compound movements in lower rep range (vary focus on bar speed and higher intensity) plus additional supplemental movements of a lessor degree of complexity in higher rep range. Hmm, confusing - if so just ask. And if I forget to answer, just wander over the “Revolution” to discuss. In faith, Coach Daviers

DAmn…it did it again, I posted, and it didn’t post it…anyways, NYC man, I was under the same assumption you were about multiple sets of low rep training.

Coach Davies, I understand your reccommendations…sort of similar to Westside protocols right?? My goal is hit the 190s by July 1 (30 lbs muscle)…what do you think?

Obviously my knowledge pales in comparison to anything coach Davies or others have to offer you in the way of advice but I can say this from personal experience…lifting in the lower rep ranges (between 3-6) was great for me from both a strength AND size perspective. Last year from Jan. thru April, I trained almost exclusively with lower rep ranges, and my weight shot up about 15 lbs. from 205 to 220, which I attribute to the training because my diet and lifestyle were very similar to the period prior to beginning the low rep training. Strength wise, my big three went way up as did a lot of auxiliary lifts (even the ones I didn’t lift often such as barbell military press). The one thing i noticed however, is that if you are worried about fat gain, you have to really watch what you eat during this type of training because the lower rep training doesn’t seem to burn as many calories as your typical 8-12 rep hypertrophy training. Anywayz, I say give low rep training a go until it ceases to be effective, then go onto something different.

Go check out Chris T’s OVT bulking article at his “Lair.” He even added in some OL lifting if you prefer it. I think you’ll like it.