T Nation

The Issue of Number of Reps


How is it possible that there are so many incredibly contrasting views about this topic?
I always wonder how many reps I should be doing, but when I google it I get SO many disparate points of view.

Is it something about different muscle fibers?

Before I ever read anything I used to do tons of reps, which did'nt really get me anywhere.
Then I read up on it a little, and find out that I should crank up the weight and lift as much as I can, which will keep the reps low, but that does'nt matter because you will be forced to adapt and grow.
I tried the 5x5 thing, and got some success. Nothing to write home about really, but merely lifting more has done some good.

So I guess I am just looking for input on that. Lets say that if strength is your goal ie being able to lift higher weights, whats the best way to set up your set/rep situation for maximal results?


I suppose its wot ever rep range you feel comfortable in. (not including singles and triples etc)

THere is no magic rep range per se....but its gaining that 50-200lbs in that rep range thats the magic.


search for starting strength or ripptoes ~ or read the beginner stickies.


Lift heavy weights for a bunch of reps and aim to add more weight or more reps next time around. Please don't make it any more complicated than that.


This, although I wouldn't eschew singles, doubles and triples.


Usually low repetitions will train your maximal strength effectively, mid-range (8-12ish) repetitions will train hypertrophy, and when you get to the higher end of the spectrum (20+) you'll mostly train endurance.

However, strength can be trained with sets of 6 or sets of 8 too, you don't have to do only low-rep stuff simply because you want to get stronger. It goes the other way around too, getting stronger will make you bigger.

On isolation exercises you want to avoid low rep stuff. On compound exercises, doing low-rep work is usually good once in a while, but sticking to a slightly higher rep range can be beneficial (5-10-ish).

It's also an individual matter.


Doubles? Singles? Triples?


singles = 1 rep

eg bench press 315pounds x 1

doubles = 2 reps

triples = 3 reps


OH ok cool. Thanks. duh... shoulda known.

wow a three rep set? A one rep set? And that's lifting as much as I can safely do right? I've never tried that really.
My gym is full of snobs and jackasses... I don't really want to ask anyone to spot me, and I sure don't know anyone that works out that I can take with. So usually I try to avoid finding out how much I can or can't lift. I just pack it on till it's incredibly heavy to me and go for it


You shouldn't really be doing singles - triples etc if your main goal is muscle mass.

the lowest i would probably go would be 5 reps, depending on the movement. some might be 8-10 reps as the lowest.


I got back into it a couple of months ago, was fortunate enough to find this forum and others that helped me.

I was doing 3 sets of 10 reps, but just switched to doing 10, 8 and the last set being 6 reps.

I added a lot of weight, which is doable in a the initial set of 10, but would be impossible in a 3rd set of 10 reps.



Don't worry about it. You're not at the stage of development where you'll need reps of 1-3. Stick with 5 or more reps every set.

Also, and this cannot be stated enough, you MUST MUST MUST eat enough to grow. It doesn't matter what rep range you're in if you're not eating enough to put muscle on. You won't gain any muscle.

What I would do is mix and match. I've done this for years, and continue to do so. It works great. Take the first 1 or 2 exercises of every day and do sets of 5 or 6 with a heavy weight (after warm ups of course, and make the goal to get 5 x 5, or 4 x 6). Please have a spotter just in case :). Then for the rest of your training that day use 8-12 reps per set. Make sure you're doing compound movements for most of your training, especially the heavy 1st exercise.