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Rep and Set Ranges


I have only been lifting for about 3 months so basicall im really new. but im confused about the ranges of reps like 3-6 or 6-10. from what ive read training for strengh is usualy low reps and high sets but what about trainging for overall muscle size? what rep ranges should be used. thanks


This is a good question. I will try to provide some 'general' standards for you to consider. For overall gains in mass I have found that reps in the range of 3-6 have worked very well. Over the last year I did a lot of 5x5 training and some 8x3. This is 5 sets of 5 reps and 8 sets of 3 reps.

At this moment I'm training a 4 week phase of 4x6. I'm in week two of this phase and it is going well. My general strength is going up each workout and I'm seeing some overall general changes. My personal plan is to proceed as follows;

Weeks 1-4 = 6 rep range
Weeks 5-8 = 8 rep range
Weeks 9-12= 10 rep range
Weeks 13-16 = 12 rep range
Weeks 17-20 = 15 rep range
Week 21 off

Week 22 and on is an undulating phase where I will move around the rep ranges, probably staying more towards the 6 rep range overall.

Now I stress that this is a 'plan'. So far I see progress and some results with it for my personal goals. But it isn't etched in stone and can and will be modified if the need arises.

For your purposes, try a 5x5 or a 4x6 and see how it works for your goals.

Others here with more experience than I might have additional or differing information. Take a look at it and see what works for your personally the best. I would add that a periodic change of program is a good thing.


thanks alot


8-12 reps man. 8-12. And so has it been for more than 40years now.

As a beginner, this will be where you get your best size gains.

But it's not an easy 12. It's a gut busting 12.

I personally prefer 8 reps because the pain lasts less time and there's more crossover to strength, but the take home lesson is that you have to work as hard as you can (safely) and hit at least 7 reps or more.


In my opinion, you need to change the sets and reps pretty frequently to get the best results. I try to cycle my routines every three to eight weeks, and when I switch I try to change to radically different routines.

For example, I agree with Sxio that something like 3-5 sets for 8-10 reps is a great place for beginners to start. But after a month or two (maybe three for newbies), your body will adapt and you will not gain as fast as you were. I would then switch to a heavy program where you might be doing 3 sets of 3-6 with pretty heavy weight. I tend to get off heavy programs after three or four weeks (they are hard on joints) and then move on to the exact opposite - high volume like 8x8 or 10x10.

You see the pattern: change sets and reps often, and change them radically to force the muscles to adapt to the new stimulus. Changing routines will keep your body growing as fast as possible, and it will keep you interested. As a general rule, calves and forearms respond better to higher reps than other muscles, because they usually have more slow-twitch muscle fibers.


It's a continuum. There are several articles here that cover that exact subject, but here's a shorthand explanation:

1-2 reps, Power
3-4 reps, Strength
5-6 reps, Strength, Sarcomere hypertrophy
7-8 reps, Sarcomere and Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy
9-10 reps, Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy
11-12 reps, Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, Strength-Endurance
13-20 reps, Strength-Endurance
20+ reps, Endurance

This is only a rough estimate because there are a number of other variables, but you get the basic idea.

Essentailly the less reps you do per set, the more likely you are to build muscle density and hardness instead of pure size. I personally do most of my workouts in the 5x5 and 4x8 ranges, this works well for me, but YMMV.


Whatever rep range you do ( personally i would do 6 or more reps ) , please dont forget progression. This is the true key of training.

Whatever rep range you do, if you lift more than you did last time, if you do more reps with the same weight you did last time, if you manage an extra set with the same weight and reps... these are all forms of progressing and ensuring gains.

Gains that of course will only come if the caloric intake is sufficient.


Rep ranges aren't the only thing determining hypertrophy. For example, I could get the same hypertrophy doing 8x3 as I do 3x8 because I did more sets. A 5x5 can give me more hypertrophic gains than 3x10 if I use less rest in between the 5x5. I could grow like hell with 3x30 if I used drop sets.

As for regular sets, 8-12 reps have been tried and tested as the best for hypertrophy.

Since you haven't been lifting a lot yet, don't bloody your nose over all these things. Whether you lift 5x5 or 3x10, you'll grow because of your young training age, given that you have a caloric surplus in your diet.


These are all helpful entries, and to a large extent I believe that begginners should try and establish time in the trenches and discover what particularly works best for you.

Experiment with a range of these set rep pattern but be wary of fatigue and results they illicit.

An interesting point I would add is that set/rep protocols are important but they need to be seen as only part of the process, exercise selection, lifting techniques, rep cadence (speed of the lift), and also the amount of rest between sets.

My advice is stick to programs designed by professionals, and try to gain practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge of why and how different strategies work. This will allow you to similtaneously develop towards your goals as well as being in a position to adapt and create your own programs.

In short this is my personal step by step reccomendations for the direction of an autonomous weight trainer

1) Find a proffessionally designed program for your level
2) Whilst training be wary and reflective of the strategies that work for you
3) Study the underlying factors and reasons for training in specific ways
4) Get to a stage wherebyyou can adapt proffessional designed programs to better facilitate your goals
5) Design your own programs

Always be open to suggestion and really focus on weight training across all spectrums, nutrition, psychology and physiology to name a few.

Long Live The Body Science


I've been alternating high rep work out with a low rep workout week by week.

For ex. Biceps I do 20's one week then the next week I'll go down to 10 to 5 reps.


since i first started i have been doing low rep high set workouts with the intent to get stronger which i have and have been able to put on about 13 pounds of body weight. now i want to start trying to put on a little size to help reach my set goals. so this past week i started working out with one of my friends who has been lifting for about a year and we started a 3 reps of 10 sets workout hoping to shock my body a little to make some gains. thanks for all the help.