T Nation

Your Preferred Reps for Muscle & Fat Loss


From reading various sources, some say to build muscle it best using 5x5 strength training, others say 8-12 and for losing fat some say stick to high rep ranges where as others say the opposite and to just reduce your calories!

can anyone shed any light on this? What rep ranges do you guys like to use to build muscle and lose fat? ohhh and while im typing...what bulk/cut cycles do you like to do e.g. 8 week bulk, 3 cut??



maybe that is because most things work for a while and nothing works forever?

if you are making progress then obviously what you are doing is working for you... when you stop making progress then you need to change things up... so what is best for you partly depends on what you have been doing previously.

what have you been doing?


An 8 week bulk? Try 8 months or longer. Any less and you will be spinning your wheels. A year or two is not uncommon.


I like 8 years a little better. NOTHING is going to get done on an 8week/3week bulker-cutter-blast-and-rip... It just doesnt work that way.

Get strong as an ox on every lift in the 6-12 rep range over years and years and you will find the answers you seek.


First, decide on a SPECIFIC goal.. every newbie wants to get big, shredded, strong, etc.. Those are 3 different goals.
You will gain strength and size through consistant hard training, no matter what rep scheme or workout you use.

Pick a goal and focus on it for 4 months and build your training program around it. Evalute your results. Pick another goal train and evaluate.

I am not a fan of bulking up, I used to do it when I was young, but think your better off in the long run of staying within 5-10 lbs of "summer lean bodyweight".

Evaluate yourself every 6 months; strength levels, measurements, and bodyfat levels. What are your weak points? Train those the hardest. Everyone wants to bench and do curls, put your effort into squats, there is a reason its called the King of all exercises.

Train hard, how hard? If you have never vomited from a workout, you have not trained hard enough. While you don't want to train at this level all the time this will give you a gauge of how hard to push yourself.


i like sets of 3


I like the 6-8 rep range.

I also like to use set points to minimize fat gain, gain 10lbs then hold it for 3-4 months. IMO it works best to gain the 10lbs in under a month so you can keep weight gain in the back of your head for the holding period.

Its normal to get a little sloppy with the initial weight gain but after the holding period it will be leaned out. Just keep up the intensity.


For cutting I have had the most success with sets ranging from 3-25 reps. Seriously. I really like this approach: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/destroying_fat_war_room_strategies_to_maximize_fat_loss

Couple days a week, ultra-high (15+), and couple days around 6.


Thanks guys....all very helpful info!

I found a similar method used of doing 2 x high reps days and 2 x low reps days in the april, may and june issues of muscle and fitness mag. Its for a 12 week plan with the workouts and rep ranges changing each month.
It started of with low rep days being 8-12 and high rep days being 15r, then each month the low reps would get lower and the high reps would get higher.

So...the next month, low rep day were 6-8, high rep days were 15-20. The last month: low rep days were 4-6 and high rep days were around 20-25 days.

Then you could start it again.

What do all you chaps think of this???


If you are just starting out -- just about any program that has 2 or more "sets", and 2-12 "reps" per set -- is going to give you strength gains. You are going to go from a state of being untrained, to trained state -- these are where you will see the greatest strength gains.

I also think this is where a lot of confusion comes from -- a lot of people will swear by 5x5 or 6/3/1 or whatever program -- because they've just done it for the first 6 months of their training "life." The decision of what to do after the first 6 or 12 months is what is really the difficult question. Strength gains will become much much slower. But at least by then, you'll have at least 6 months training experience, and perhaps will have learned what works better for you -- and can make a more informed decision.

Bottom line, if you are just starting -- pick a program, go lift, and keep track of what happens. You will see strength gains.