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Periodization: Low Rep or High Rep Workouts First?


Let’s say that I were to start a periodization based program consisting of several weeks of low rep (strength) workouts and several weeks of higher rep (hypertrophy) workouts.

Which would you place first in the overall program… the low rep strength workouts or the higher rep hypertrophy workouts? Just wondering whether it’d be more beneficial to go from strength to hypertrophy, or hypertrophy to strength.



Ah the old Chicken and egg conundrum…

Do you build muscle to support your strength gains 1st or build strength so you can use heavier weight for reps…

This is a big reason why beginner programs use the 5rep range as it is a bit of a sweet spot for size and strength.

If your not a beginner, than what was the focus of your last program? I’d be inclined to say do the opposite.

It really is a per person sort of a question and you haven’t given much info.


Typically, you tend to see the higher volume (and higher rep) work first, then peaking in a pyramid fashion into lower reps with lower volume.

But there’s definitely arguments to be made for the opposite. How experienced are you?


How is this even a problem? If you start a program doing the common higher reps first and eventually get down to low reps, just repeat it again and you’ll be going from low to high. So you get both no matter how you structure it.


I think it’s quite an interesting question, and I suspect the only real answer you could give is “it depends” which is the most frustrating thing to hear in the world ever, except for maybe “sorry, baby; it’s that time of the month.”

In my mind it depends on the purpose of the periodisation and how you want to focus it. If you were trying to peak for a bench PR or whatever, you’d start with the higher reps and work down. 10s, 5s, triples, doubles, singles, etc.

If your training was more physique focussed, your periodisation would be different. You’d be likely to increase volume, whether through sets per workout or increased training frequency. You wouldn’t necessarily be dropping into the lower rep ranges (although that’d work too).

So a 12 week, hypertrophy focussed (god, how pretentious does that sound) phase would be something like

-Weeks 1 to 4, 12 sets per bodypart
-Weeks 5-6, 14 sets
-Weeks 7-8, 16 sets
-Weeks 9-10, 18 sets
-Weeks 10-12, 20 sets

(EDIT: these numbers are totally arbitrary and I’m just using them to illustrate a point)

And you could get crazy with it and throw in intensity techniques like drop sets or whatever in the later weeks just to really ramp up the crazy.

After that time you’d probably be feeling like you’d had your ass good and kicked, so you’d drop back the volume by decreasing total sets, frequency, etc.

I suppose at that point you could switch to the lower rep ranges but I wouldn’t personally do that, as the whole point of the back off is to recover, not just brutalise yourself in a different way.

So… yeah. It depends. Periodisation is a state of mind, y’know?


You could also do “big strength lifts” for “low rep strength work” to build strength. And during the same period of time, also do “higher rep hypertrophy” exercises for hypertrophy.


Thank you for the help so far guys, I appreciate it.

Yogi, you are correct haha. “It depends” is frustrating, but I totally understand why you’ve answered that way.

My goals have always been (as cliché as it is) to get as big, strong & lean as possible, with the emphasis really being on big & lean, with the strength secondary. That’s not to say I don’t want the strength though, which is sorta my reason for creating this particular periodization program.

For the past few years I’ve been training ‘Reverse Pyramid’ style, where the weight decreases but the reps increase set by set. This was basically one way of allowing me to get a wide range of rep ranges into one workout. I now want to try using different rep ranges, but focusing on one at a time as opposed to all of them in the same workout, so that I can give 100% focus to that specific rep range.

So I was going to do something like 4-5 weeks low rep strength, and 4-5 weeks higher rep hypertrophy, rest & repeat. I just have no idea which to place first in the workout program, and if this kind of thing would even work. Would there be a high change of losing the strength or hypertrophy I get from the first 4-5 weeks, when switching to the second part of the program?


This is what has worked best for me