Your Ultimate Guide To Volume And Rep Range For Muscle Size, Strength And Endurance

Man doing bench press at gym

Hard training should not be confused with smart training. If you want to gain muscle, you should concentrate on volume rather than how many times you go to, or how long you spend at the gym.

It’s pretty straightforward to train hard, but training smart takes you closer to your objectives. Let’s imagine you wish to increase your muscular mass. You can use a little weight and rep it 50-60 times, or you can use a heavier weight and push it 10 times. Both methods are difficult, but one is better for muscular growth.

The “3×10” rule is by far the most prevalent piece of advice given to novice lifters. Performing three sets of ten reps every exercise, regardless of whether you’re attempting to gain muscle, strength, power, or endurance, is a decent place to start—or so goes this pattern of thinking, which has stayed mostly unchanged since it was originally promoted in the 1940s.

What’s more, you know what? This strategy works for the most part, especially if you’re new to strength training—everything works at first. Tailoring your primary set-and-rep scheme to best meet your unique training goal is a more effective method (especially once your beginner’s gains are behind you).

If you want to build size, strength, or endurance you need to know how many reps to lift! In this post, we will discuss how to match your goals to the best rep range and weight.

girl lifting weight at gym

What’s The Difference Between Muscle Strength And Muscle Growth?

Strength training helps muscles become stronger, whereas muscle building/bodybuilding seeks to make muscles appear larger. Although larger muscles and a larger body provide certain strength benefits, training plans vary depending on the targeted training objective, such as muscle size or muscle strength.

To get the most out of your workouts, you need to know which rep ranges will help you achieve your goals. Thankfully, experts have already spoken upon the subject. Here are the fundamental principles for selecting the appropriate number of reps each set for your fitness goals!

1. Reps When Training For Muscle Size – Hypertrophy

Bodybuilder showing off huge muscles while working out

Choose a weight that allows you to reach muscular failure in the 8-12 rep range if you’re training for muscle size. To put it another way, after your warm-up sets, which should never be taken to failure, you should choose a load that allows you to finish at least 8 reps but not more than 12.

If you can only complete 6-7 reps, the weight is too heavy, and you should lower it on the following sets. It also indicates that a set in which you can do more than 12 reps but stop at 12 can not be considered a “true” set. 

A set will be considered optimal if you fail within the target rep range of 8-12 – it means you shouldn’t be able to execute another rep with proper form on your own. If you can do more than 12, increase the weight on your following set until you’re failing inside the goal range.

Regardless of whether or when you’re failing, if you’re exercising with bad technique, the weight is probably too heavy.

Choosing the proper load for your muscle-building goal targets the fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are more prone to developing bigger and stronger in response to resistance exercise, while also providing enough volume to encourage growth. These fibers, however, exhaust fast, which is why you can’t lift a heavyweight repeatedly.

Train like a bodybuilder: Aim for 8-12 reps each set (on average) and multijoint activities such as the bench press, squat, overhead press, bent-over row, and deadlift, which recruit more total muscle mass than single-joint moves and so allow you to lift larger weights.

To encourage growth, hit a specific muscle from different angles with high volume (sets and reps). Rest times should be between one and two minutes in length.

2. Reps When Training For Strength

Powerlifter attempting to lift heavy weight

Choosing a weight at which you can do only 8-12 reps not only builds muscle, but it also improves strength. However, that weight isn’t ideal for strength training. You should train with even higher loads, ones you can lift for only 1-6 reps if you want to maximize your strength. These extremely heavy weights give the necessary stimulus for strength development.

In fact, the world’s biggest and strongest men and women, particularly powerlifters, train in this manner. In competition, they fling around superhuman weights, and you can bet they practice in the same way.

However, most of these people don’t work out hard all of the time. To save their joints, limit the danger of injury, and peak at the right time for competition, they alternate high-intensity (hard training) with low-intensity sessions. As a result, they usually follow a 12- or 16-week periodized program that gradually increases in intensity. This entails performing sets of 5 reps, 3 reps, and then 2 and 1 reps. The fast-twitch fibers are also targeted by the strength trainer. Not only does he work on growing and strengthening muscular fibers, but he also works on conditioning the nervous system.

3. Reps When Training For Muscle Endurance

Boxer showing off his back muscles

Your objective may be to get as big or powerful as possible, but not everyone shares that desire. The marathon runner, who runs at a consistent pace for 26 kilometers or more, is a classic example of muscle endurance training. In the gym, this means lifting a lighter load for 15 reps or more.

Because oxygen plays a major part in energy or production, low-intensity training is sometimes referred to as aerobic exercise. This permits you to maintain your level of exercise for a longer time. Since this energy process happens predominantly in slow-twitch muscle fibers, low-intensity, high-repetition exercise strengthens the systems that make the muscle cell more aerobically efficient.

This type of exercise increases muscle endurance without necessarily increasing muscle size. A sprinter’s body is not often seen on a marathon runner, although highly trained aerobic athletes can execute many reps for lengthy periods of time without becoming tired.

Choosing relatively low weights that can be done for 15-20 reps or more is a good way to focus on muscle endurance.

Train like an endurance athlete: Because most endurance sports don’t take place in a gym, it’s difficult to mimic their actions with weights. Lower-body multijoint exercises with low weights and high reps, as well as Olympic lifts, can be used to enhance muscular endurance as long as form is never sacrificed in an effort to keep a set going.

Do ensure to keep rest intervals brief since oxygen intake and lactic-acid elimination should not be limiting considerations when you exercise.

Your 1RM (One Rep Max)

The heaviest weight you can lift for a single repetition is your 1-repetition maximum (1RM). It helps you figure out how much weight to lift for each exercise. Knowing your 1RM is crucial if you want to increase muscle or gain strength. You can calculate the amount of weight you’ll need to reach your chosen training volume by training at a specified percentage of your 1RM.

Multi-joint activities like the bench press, squat, bent-over row, and deadlift are fantastic workouts to incorporate in your program if you want to increase your size. You can lift greater weights with these workouts because they use more total muscle mass. Exercise technique is critical; examine your technique with your personal trainer to guarantee you’re getting the most out of your workout.

Take Away

You can figure out how many reps you should do and how much weight you should lift when you figure out how many reps you should do. Both are linked inexorably. If you graph the two, you’ll notice that they have a near-linear inverse relationship: increase the weight, and you can do fewer reps; decrease the weight, and you can do more reps.

Concentrate on the training program that best suits your fitness goals, but don’t be afraid to mix it up with others. Why? Because many of the advantages overlap.

Lifting mostly in the 6 to 12 rep range, for example, can help you target your type II muscle fibers, which are the largest and have the greatest growth potential. However, you can’t ignore your more endurance-oriented type I fibers, which respond best to high rep sets, if you want to maximize your gains. You’ll ensure that you optimize your training stimulus and accelerate your outcomes by integrating a variety of reps and sets into your workout regimen.

Your training program should always be programmed considering the outcome you desire. Always arrive at the gym with a strategy in mind. Keep track of your progress for each session and make sure you’re pushing your muscles to their limits.

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