This is the problem that a lot of casual bodybuilders run into. We’ve been trying to put up a bunch of good content before officially announcing it the Bony to Beastly and Bombshell communities. Strength level for a particular exercise/movement is generally communicated in the form of an N Rep Max (commonly a 1 rep max — or 1 rm).. An ‘n’ rep max is the maximum weight you can lift for n reps. 1. Training for Muscle Size (Hypertrophy) If you're training for muscle size, choose a weight at which you reach muscle failure in the 8-12-rep range. Plus, the main benefit of lifting in lower rep ranges is that it gives us practice lifting close to our 1-rep max. For instance, lifting from 3 reps all the way up to 20 reps per set? Combining concentric and eccentric contractions is more effective for growth than either in isolation. Within that same 20-minute timeframe, they’ve stimulated the same amount of chest growth, they’ve doubled their triceps growth, and they’re probably still feeling fairly fresh. With that said, these differences in volume really only start to become significant when comparing rather different rep ranges. What does that actually mean? On the other hand, even small differences in rep ranges could result in different amounts of muscle growth over the longer term, and that could apply even within moderate rep ranges. And third, higher-rep sets can cause a tremendous amount of muscle damage, making our workouts harder to recover from. High volume, multiple set programs (6-12 reps, 3 to 6 sets) have been shown to create greater hypertrophy for two important reasons: The higher workload is more effective at creating microtrauma because of the extra time under tension and extra number of fibres recruited (Shinohara et al, 1998; Smith & Rutherford, 1995; Moss et al, 1997) Or is it better to use a rep range that’s halfway between strength training and hypertrophy training? 4 sets of 12 reps. Or it could mean doing 4 sets of 10–12 reps, starting with a weight you can do 10 reps with, trying to get more reps every workout, and adding weight every time you’re able to do 12 reps. That’s the approach commonly used in Reverse Pyramid Training programs. If we want to be able to pick up heavy things and carry them around, we might want to do conventional deadlifts and loaded carries. However, lifting in higher rep ranges is a nightmare straight out of Bloodborne, especially when doing the bigger compound lifts. For instance, instead of doing 3 sets of 12 reps (3×12), we might want to do 5 sets of 5 reps (5×5). How much muscle growth do we lose, if any? It’s important to note the one study by Mangine et al that showed greater arm growth from doing sets of 3-5 reps than from doing sets of 10–12 reps. How many reps should you do to build muscle mass? For example, when programming for leg development, you you have a lifter perform the back squat, front squat, and box squat each week (on separate days), for 5 sets of 8-10 repetitions. When volumes start climbing higher like that, it can pay to have an easier and more efficient way to stimulate muscle growth. It’s easy to be limited by our cardiovascular systems. The hypertrophic stimulus and fatigue generated by each set between roughly 5 and 30 reps are about the same. This shows that the lower reps stimulated more muscle growth, when considering volume. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. So far, when I do weighted chinups for 3 sets, I get 8 reps on the 1st set, 5 reps on the 2nd set, and 4 reps on the 3rd set. Marco Walker-Ng is the co-founder and strength coach of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and is a certified trainer (PTS) with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Ottawa. There are problems with doing sets of 20–40 reps, too. ... and in further support of this positive relationship between training volume and hypertrophy is a more recent 2017 meta-analysis. But if we’re doing 13 sets of 10 reps, maybe 2–4 minutes of rest between sets, fewer warm-up sets needed, we’re talking maybe an hour of work. 1. Even just comparing the popularity of bodybuilding versus strength training, we see that bodybuilding is several times more popular: But even so, most of us also care at least a little bit about improving our general health, general fitness, and general strength. 5. Hypertrophy (muscle building) set and rep schemes require moderately heavy weight that can be used to complete 8 to 12 reps with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets. One problem with these studies, though, is that they match training volume—total pounds lifted—instead of matching the number of challenging sets. Set 2: 8 reps with 235 pounds Repetitions for Hypertrophy According to the American Council on Exercise, hypertrophy requires eight to 12 repetitions, while increased endurance requires 12 to 20 and strength enhancement calls for one to eight repetitions. If we want to lift things overhead, we should be doing lifts like the overhead press. ​Or click here to join our newsletter for women. Now, does that mean that 5×5 workout programs are good for gaining muscle size? It found that the same amount of muscle growth from doing seven low-rep sets as from doing three moderate-rep sets. Lifting in moderate rep ranges is great for improving our general health and fitness. Since Saturday been training 20 reps with my mate who is 57. A hypertrophy phase workout consists of exercises utilizing low to intermediate repetition ranges with progressive overload. Bench Press. This workout uses 2–4 sets of 6–20 reps, doing fewer reps on the bigger compound lifts, more reps on the smaller isolation lifts. The first that doing fewer reps per sets means we’re lifting less total weight each set (less volume), which seems to stimulate less muscle growth. If we look at another study by Schoenfeld et al, we see that doing sets of 8–12 reps stimulates the same amount of muscle growth as doing sets of 25–35 reps. We have other examples of higher rep ranges stimulating plenty of muscle growth per set, too: So the good news is that if you’re forced to use light weights or bodyweight training to build muscle, you can delve into those higher rep ranges. I’ve been doing the 8-10 reps and 6 sets for three weeks now. According to experts like Greg Nuckols, MA, sets of 4–40 reps are ideal for gaining muscle mass. These guidelines can be manipulated (primary total sets per exercise) so that each muscle group can receive anywhere from 12-20 total working sets per week from a wide array of compound exercises. But if we’re talking about muscle growth per set, better to use moderate rep ranges so that we’re lifting more total poundage each set. Among those variables are the total number of sets, reps (repetitions), intensity (how heavy the weight it relative to either to one-rep max or rate of perceived exertion), rest periods, exercise order, and frequency (how many times per week, typically). For that, people often turn to powerlifting, thinking that they need to test their 1-rep maxes to see how strong they are. Reps: Under 6 reps Every expert has different set/rep "rules." But I think we’re getting to the point where we’ve got a lot of content up. Also, reading and researching on your articles, so going to follow other routines after that. 4 sets of 11 reps Thirty seconds to one minute of rest between sets is recommended for endurance training. The goal is just to keep most of our training in the hypertrophy rep range. For example: Should I do the same number of reps for all 3 sets or should i decrease the number of reps until i get to 8 but i increase the weight as i go down? For example, if you wanted your lifter to squat 100kg five times in a row, and do that 3 separate times with 90 seconds of rest in between each grouping of 5 squats, the squat prescription would be 3 sets of 5 reps at 100kg, with 90 seconds rest. Maybe just stick with that weight until you’re getting 8 reps on all three sets. All sets are to failure with good form (chest to bar). Funny that this is published. What Does Research Say? When looking to increase muscle hypertrophy, science has shown that one of the most important factors for increasing the size of the individual muscle fibers (muscle hypertrophy) is overall training volume. But, as you can imagine, different lifts challenge us in different ways. Via Wikipedia comes the Strength/ Power/ Hypertrophy/ Endurance table of Mell … If we look at a systematic review of 14 studies, we see that sets of 6–20 reps stimulate a similar amount of muscle growth per set, provided that we take those sets close enough to failure. We also have researchers like James Krieger, MS, favouring sets of 8+ reps. Are 5×5 Routines Good for Gaining Muscle Mass? The truth is, recent emerging research has indicated that this hypertrophy rep range is actually much bigger than most people realize . It gets confusing. So, when Jack says 80 kg is his 5 rep max, he means both of the these: a. he cannot add any more weight and perform 5 reps. b. he cannot perform any more than 5 reps with 80 kg. Mind you, they were training their entire bodies, and the difference in muscle growth was only seen in their arms. What that means is, if you’re making a hypertrophy training program, a workout might look like this: Deadlifts: 4 sets of 6 reps As I’ve previously explained, weight training volume (the amount of exercises, sets and reps you do) is a key factor influencing the effectiveness of your workout routine. Rather, when reps are low, total volume should be calculated. We might use that workout for a few weeks or months, adjusting as needed depending on how we’re progressing, and then switch things up a bit to keep things fresh. In the section, “Are Low Reps Good For Building Muscle?”, the math doesn’t seem to be right. For instance, doing biceps curls will make our biceps bigger and stronger, but that won’t necessarily help us deadlift more weight. If doing 12-rep sets of squats challenges our fitness more than our strength, should we use a lower rep range? How to Add Training Volume the Right Way. Hypertrophy typically requires a certain number of TOTAL reps. By self-pacing to get to a certain number of reps with a given weight, you can increase training density over the course of several weeks by reaching your target reps in fewer sets. Hi. The below guidelines are geared for the any individual looking to build general muscle hypertrophy with no specific sport-goal (other than have a solid foundation). That’s called Reverse Pyramid Training, like so: Set 1: 4 reps with 265 pounds You are going to perform 24 total reps with your 10-15 rep max. For instance, doing 225 reps for ten reps is 2250 pounds lifted, whereas lifting 275 pounds for five reps is just 1375 pounds lifted. We can gauge our strength by how much we can lift in moderate rep ranges instead. Lower reps tend to be ideal for the bigger compound lifts, giving us loose rep range recommendations for our five big hypertrophy lifts of, say: And then the ideal rep range climbs higher for assistance and accessory lifts, which are lighter, less fatiguing, and can sometimes tolerate a bit of technique breakdown. It may lead to over-training. And when the reps are lower, we tend to do slightly more sets. Lastly, endurance set and rep schemes feature light resistance that can be completed for 12 or more reps. The 5 Big Compound Lifts for Building Muscle. The views expressed on this site may come from individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the view of BarBend or any other organization. Set 4: 4 reps with 255 pounds. It seems that muscle growth is maximized by doing 4–8 sets per muscle group per workout. In the latest issue of Monthly Applications in Strength Sport, Greg Nuckols said that he suspects that sets of 3–5 reps aren’t as good at stimulating muscle growth as moderate-rep sets, but that they’re not that far off, either. Typically, 3-5 sets are recommended for optimal hypertrophy. Shane Duquette and Marco Walker-Ng, BHSc, PTS. For example, when looking at increasing leg hypertrophy, total working sets (for most, drug-free lifters) across a week can range from 12-20 total working sets based on an athlete’s ability to recovery and/or level of fitness (more advanced athletes may not be able to handle as much loading due to moving more weight over time). We’ve got a whole article on how many sets to do. Options commonly performed in this range are 3×10, 3×12, 4×8, and 4×10. For instance, a recent study by Keitaro Kubo found that doing 7 sets of 4 reps (7×4) on the bench press gained the same amount of muscle mass as doing 3 sets of 12 reps (3×12). Muscles do not naturally want to grow; they must be forced to grow through consistent periods of stress. So although sets of 4–40 can be good for stimulating muscle growth, it’s often easier to build muscle if we spend more of our time lifting in the 6–20 rep range. Good to train slightly differently. What's your goal: strength, hypertrophy (size), or fat loss? Lifting more total pounds per set, putting greater demands on our cardiovascular systems, and building more muscle mass are all great for our health and fitness. If we want to maximize the growth of our triceps, we also need triceps extensions. But sets of five reps are right on the cusp of being ideal for gaining muscle. Join the BarBend Newsletter for workouts, diets, breaking news and more. That’s fine. Probably done over 120 reps in total. Repetitions make up one set, which rep ranges can go from 1 to, well, as high as your heart (and/or body) desires. But you can imagine how those workouts could get quite long. And when we do that math, we see that the muscle growth being stimulated per set drops quite a bit. Or, if you’re still skinny, try our Bony to Beastly (men’s) program or Bony to Bombshell (women’s) program. Hamstring Curl. Going to continue for another three weeks. This is the point that Mike Zourdos, PhD, makes in Monthly Applications in Strength Sport: While there isn’t necessarily sufficient evidence to say that the 15 reps would yield greater hypertrophy than the 6-rep example when sets are equated, without long-term data, it’s worth considering differential hypertrophy outcomes could occur over the very long term. Featured Image: Martin Romero Photography. It’s not a popular style of training. First, we need to take them closer to muscular failure to reliably provoke muscle growth. Meaning, if you want to get the best results possible, your goal is to use an optimal amount of volume for each body part and muscle group per workout and per week total. The goal of this article is to offer coaches and athletes a general outline for hypertrophy training programming and offer insight on the importance of moderating total training volume (sets x reps) to avoid over-training and allow for hypertrophy adaptations to take place. 4. It kicks off with a 5-part series about how to build muscle more leanly, gain strength faster, and improve your appearance. After that, we'll keep you updated on the most important muscle-building research, lifting methods, and workout routines. Not that simple: Hypertrophy - loads must be greater than 65% of 1 rep max ; rep ranges are 6–12; rest is 90 secs to 2 minutes Strength - maximal loads IE 20lbs more than where you lifted in hypertrophy. Of casual bodybuilders run into that 2-6 sets were ideal for building muscle,. Generally stronger, fitter, and thus stimulating less muscle growth was only seen in their arms muscle:... 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