How many reps should I do? 

How much weight should I lift each exercise?

 

This topic is so intensely disputed in the weight training arena that I thought I would clear everything up for you and put you on the right path to brilliant results.

Let's first take a good look at the common beliefs out there for the ideal rep range. There are 3 major beliefs depending on the results you are trying to achieve;

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Common Belief 1) Mass Gains

Heavy weights - 4-6 repetitions per exercise

Common Belief 2) Strength Gains

Medium weights - 8-12 repetitions per exercise

Common Belief 3) Toning / Cutting / Fat Loss

Lighter weights - 16+ repetitions per exercise

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So how familiar are those rep ranges to you? You might be using something similar yourself at the moment, but now I want to take this time to review each common belief and actually show you the truth behind creating the most effective workouts for you.

Where are people going wrong?

The first thing that must be mentioned is that each and every time you walk in the gym you need to cause your muscles something called 'microtrauma' which is when your muscle fibers are damaged due to forcing resistance against them.

Growth happens during recovery when the process of protein synthesis occurs to repair those 'micro torn' muscle fibers into a stronger and larger state.

So when you are training for mass gains, strength gains or even fat loss your number 1 priority is to cause as much microtrauma as physically possible before your muscles fatigue and eventually fail. 

So what rep range is ideal for building muscle?

I want you to totally forget about rep ranges from now on and start concentrating on 2 factors;

1) Isolating the targeted muscle group

This is important during every set because it ensures that the targeted muscle group is the actual muscle group doing the majority of the work. Try grabbing the heaviest set of dumbbells in your gym and lifting for a set of standing dumbbell curls. How many reps did you manage to get out? 2, maybe 3 on each arm? Now grab a pair of dumbbells half that weight and see if you can complete any reps. Wow, you managed to complete a full set of 8 each arm, what that's telling you is that the ultra heavy set really had no impact on fatiguing your biceps to the point they need to grow beacause you were able to complete a full set with the correct weight immediately after.

Use a weight that allows for maximum muscular isolation/stimulation on all repetitions.

2) Lift with good form using the heaviest possible resistance

Understand that; the heavier the weight you use, the larger the surface area of a muscle is recruited to move it. 

Each muscle in your body is made of inter-connecting muscle fibers, now think about the size of your pecs and quadriceps, they are huge muscles that span both the width of your torso and upper legs respectivly. Your goal when training them is to recruit as many of those muscle fibers as possible during each set and exercise.

Perfecting each and every set... 

Let's say for example sake that your pecs are made up of 1000 muscle fibers.

If you had a 1RM (1 repetition maximum) of 220lbs (100kg) on your bench press that would indicate that all 1000 of those muscle fibers would have been used in that 1 repetition.

That would be effective in one sense but a waste in another because you only applied 1 reps amount of tension on those muscle fibers (around 3 seconds), NOT causing effective muscle fiber fatigue.

Let's say you dropped the weight lifted to 175lbs (80kg) and managed to get out 6 repetitions at this weight before your muscles failed.

This would be much more beneficial to you because those 1000 muscle fibers were again all recruited (due to reaching muscle failure) and you applied 6 reps of tension to the muscle (around 20 seconds)

How I can make your workouts even better...

In the following example you have taken your muscles to the point needed for them to grow (microtrauma), I also call this point your muscles 'stim point' (point on maximum stimulation).

Over 96% of all people in the gym will in fact never actually get their muscles to this point during a workout, so it SHOULDN'T be taken for granted but SHOULD be capitalised on! 

I recommend further maintaining this point of maximum stimulation by performing a simple drop set or static set directly after your muscles fail for the first time. 

Imagine your muscles work on a capacity scale of 0-100. 

When your muscles are at rest (sleeping), let's say they are running at around 5 capacity. 

When a muscle completely fails due to resistance training it is obviously at a capacity level of 100. 

It is at level 100 that you want to be at MOST OFTEN during a workout. 

When you recover between sets, your muscles glycogen/creatine/ATP stores begin to resupply and in as a little as a minute your muscles can recover back to around level 40 before your next set. 

The KEY is to maintain high capacity levels (> 80) for as long as possible. 

Lifting a heavy set like the example above to failure puts you at level 100, then moving directly into another lighter set straight after (lifting to failure again) maintains that high capacity level for the double the amount of time than lifting for just 1 heavy set on it's own!

Putting it all together

I honestly hope I didn't lose anyone there, it is a fairly complex topic to discuss in text but I get asked this all the time and like always I wanted to set the record straight.

So forget about sticking to the same reps every single set.

Listen to your muscles and let them make the big decisions. 

Concentrate on isolation, recruiting a large surface area of a muscle and maintaining the point of maximum stimulation for as long as possible.

Your turn to get back to me by commenting below...

1) What did you learn most from reading this post?
2) What rep range have you been using lately and was it getting results?


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  • Guest (Sam)

    really easy to understand, made sense and will be easy to remember :)

  • Guest (frantz)

    man i learned i need to quit bein a wimp and GO HARD OR GO HOME...everything i did was in sets of 10 ses of 10...smh...time to bulk up

  • Guest (ayden)

    All that information i just answered all my questions! excellent.

  • Guest (jenny patton)

    their so nice to have they make u look great feel great and help you threw things like lifting for better jobs

  • Guest (Carlos lopez)

    I learned not to do same amount of reps in every set


    I had been doin sets of 6 reps and then moving down weight but moving up reps n I got results but u make sense so thanks

  • Guest (Jack)

    1- grab the max you can do until fatigue
    2- grab half of max and continue until fatigue
    3- do you grab half of (2)?

  • Guest (jan)

    i still dont know how to calculate 1RM, i dont know how to test that myself. Its very confusing, how do i know that, the question of how much weight you should be lifting is not yet answered. its still hard for me the 1 rep max that you are saying on the workouts, i dont know how to calculate it.

  • Guest (James Burnett)

    I have read alot of tips on the internet, 99.9% lead to someone wanting you to pay for their "new secret" they discovered. Im a US Marine who has been wounded twice, I am the biggest and fastest Marine in my platoon but after being wounded and hospital time from fallujah i fell way behind. In between that, ptsd, and scars on my face and upper body i have lost most self confidence. I have volunteered to go back overseas, and am training hard to get there. Your intel you passed on here is outstanding. It makes great sense and you have no idea how much i appreciate it. Thank you. Semper fi,. -Sgt Burnett, 3/5 wpns co

  • Guest (John Bain)

    What sand bag to you recommend?

    Thanks.

  • Guest (Rob Allen)

    I'm 52,was 140lbs now 180 after 10 yrs working out. Now no progress. Very sore after workouts. Currently doing 10 sets 3 reps max weight,3 exercises. Two compound,one direct. Mon-Chest,Wed-legs,Fri-Back. Tough workout and get very sore afterwards. Don't think I'm over training but need your opinion. I am a focused,determined work out person. I eat decent. Is soreness good? If so how long should I wait to work out again?

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