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Rep Range for Strength when Periodizing a Hypertrophy Routine?

My main goal has always been hypertrophy, although over the years (whether from experience or research online) I’ve come to learn that all rep ranges should be included in a routine. Strength gains can of course help so you’re then able to lift more weight when training for hypertrophy.

I’ve been periodizing my routine for a while now with reps ranging from 6-15. This has helped with hypertrophy & muscle endurance, and strength HAS gone up, although I figured it may be more optimal to purely focus on strength for certain periods of the year. With that being said, and having always trained for hypertrophy (with strength just being a side effect of the training, as opposed to purely focusing on low reps), how would you suggest implementing a strength phase to a routine in which the person’s primary focus is on hypertrophy?

I was thinking of switching my rep ranges to something along the lines of 5x5 for certain periods, although having done some research it’s not PURELY for strength, even though it’s still in the low’ish’ rep range. If I were to focus purely on strength for a while, what kind of rep range should I work on? Perhaps doubles, triples, etc? Please forgive my lack of knowledge when it comes to training purely for strength, as I have never done so. Then again, perhaps focusing solely on strength wouldn’t be optimal even for short periods, if my goal is hypertrophy, therefore 5x5 could work as hypertrophy will be gained also?

Thanks.

You should be getting plenty strong training in the 6-15 rep range. That’s where a lot of strongmen train. There’s no need to train singles, doubles and triples for strength. Those are helpful for getting better at 1rms, but strength exists outside of a 1 rep max as well.

I’d see no need to do 5s in this case unless you just wanted to.

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Much appreciated, thanks a lot!

Well, there’s a few reasons why I would personally recommend incorporating “lower reps” (1-5 rep range), especially if you have been exclusively using higher (8+) rep ranges for the majority of your training “career.” That said, I love Soviet programming and they only recommend their athletes to go over 90% of 1RM only about 7% of the time (7 out of every 100 lifts is over 90%, so much less than people would think for Soviet weightlifters)

  1. I would inquire how you are implementing “lower reps.” Eccentric training and changing the cadence of reps can really make a huge impact on the effect you get. You could do this on the deadlift. Take 80%, deadlift it like normal, then take 3-5 seconds lowering the weight to the ground. Do this for 5 sets of 3 repetitions and see how sore you are the next day. It probably won’t be just a little bit. Read this if you want to understand the deeper, underlying causes of this phenomenon: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28486337/
    The findings of the above paper are basically this: "The mean percent change in muscle growth across studies favored eccentric compared with concentric actions (10.0% vs. 6.8, respectively). The findings indicate the importance of including eccentric and concentric actions in a hypertrophy-oriented RT program, as both have shown to be effective in increasing muscle hypertrophy."

Also, incorporating “cluster” reps or “every minute on the minute EMOM” reps WORK for hypertrophy. Just take 80%-85% of your 1RM, and deadlift it once per minute for 20 minutes. Do this 3x per week and YOU WILL GROW if you eat. It isn’t sexy or entertaining or fun,but it works really, really well.

  1. Many large/strong individuals migrating into more physique sports have utilized heavy, low rep training at some point in their training. Whether it be Arnold, Sergio Olivia, on Ronnie Coleman. Each one of them had previous experience going extremely heavy in one sport or another. Arnold reported performing heavy Olympic Weightlifting movements in his younger years, and Sergio Olivia was actually a competitive Olympic Weightlifter for Cuba, putting up some respectable numbers in the heavy weightlifting movements. Coleman was an accomplished powerlifter, benching, squatting and deadlifting HEAVY weights for years. Their track records in physique competition speak for themselves.
    I’m not saying there is definitive causation between heavy lifting when they were younger and their success in physique as they age, but there certainly are a lot of powerlifters and weightlifters these days who could easily transition into physique competition and do well. (Just take a look at the Chinese National Weightlifting Team:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFAnMVniGXc

  2. There has been quite a bit said about the “phasic” structure of planning workouts and each phase “potentiating” the next. Putting it in the most simple terms possible, if you plan to work up to heavy 5’s 4’s or 3’s, you would do a cycle of 12-15, then a cycle of 8-10, then a cycle of 6-8 before hitting the 5’s or 3’s. This would certainly lead to bigger improvements in the 5’s and 3’s by using the higher reps to “potentiate” the progress on the lower reps. This would work in reverse.

  3. Having a higher 1RM will help with hypertrophy in the long term.
    So lets take a look at some percentages. Say you plan on doing 70% for sets of 10-12. That is a proven rep/percentage range for hypertrophy. It will probably take anywhere from 30sec to 60 sec to complete a hard set of 10-12 with ~70%.
    If your 1RM is 200lbs, a 70% set is 140lbs and it will probably take around 30-60 sec to complete.
    If you work your 1RM up to 240lbs over a few strength cycles, your 70% will be around 170lbs for the same amount of reps and the same amount of time to complete the set. But the time under tension will be increased. This is a tried and true way to increase hypertrophy. Increase time under tension, the muscle works harder and should theoretically grow more. Here’s a fairly easily digestible video from Mike Isratel, someone who knows more about muscle growth than all the people you and I know combined. It’s his job to research and educate people on muscle physiology.

What kind of results have you seen ?