The best rep range for muscle gain
Posted on 16th September 2019 at 11:51
In this blog I will clear up the confusion on rep ranges once and for all.
You set up on your flat dumbbell press but what rep range do you go for?
8? 12? as low as 6? or do you just go for your standard 3 sets of 10 reps?
3x10 is often seen as the best rep range for muscle growth but is it more complicated than this?
Is there a reason why this rep and set range is programmed so much?
Research has actually shown that using a combination of rep ranges rather than just one will yield better results when it comes to muscle and strength gain (1). It’s also been found that when volume is equated similar results can be seen in muscle gain with both lower reps/higher sets and higher reps/lower sets (2).
But what does volume equated mean?
Below shows how this would work for bench press.
6x4 @100kg = total volume 2400
= Same outcome
3x10 @80kg = total volume 2400
You can see from the above that getting bogged down with what rep range is best is probably a waste of time and that similar results can be achieved by different rep ranges.
Not relying on just one rep range would also make sense when it comes to looking to create metabolic stress, mechanical tension and muscle breakdown.
I call these the three drivers of muscle gain. To learn more about these and the important role they play in muscle gain download my free training for muscle gain eBook by HITTING THIS LINK (you won't regret it).
By selecting only one rep range you could potentially miss out on gains as you aren’t getting the best bang for your buck by ticking off all three of these drivers.
However there are also a couple of things to consider when selecting lower reps and higher sets, primarily fatigue and time.
If you did low reps and higher sets on every exercise you could well be in the gym for hours and your ability to recover from this would be pretty difficult.
Instead a better appraoch could be to do higher load, lower rep work at the beginning of a session with your compound exercises, bringing about good amounts of mechanical tension.
Then in the middle of the session you could programme more traditional body building rep ranges like 3x10 on a range compounds and isolation exercises. This will promote some mechanical tension but lean more to towards metabolic stress and some muscle damage depending on eccentric control and how new the stimulus is.
You might then finish the session with higher rep work which will be very much in the metabolic stress category.
By programming your sessions like this you are going to get a good return for both a variety of rep ranges but also hitting each of the three drivers of muscle gain.
I also like to programme sessions like this as it can be more enjoyable to go through a range of reps and sets rather than just the same for every single exercise.
In summary there isn't one best rep range for muscle gain but my personal belief and one that I know many others share is to use a combination of rep ranges. Most of the time ranging from 6-20 reps.
To learn more about how this links in to the rest of your training don't forget to dowload by eBook using the link above.
1. Schoenfeld B, Contreras B, Vigotsky A, Peterson M. Differential Effects of Heavy versus Moderate Loads on Measures of Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 2016;15:715-722.
2. Schoenfeld B, Ratamess N, Peterson M, Contreras B, Sonmez G, Alvar B. Effects of Different Volume-Equated Resistance Training Loading Strategies on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2014;28(10):2909-2918.
Tagged as: Muscle gain
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