How Many Reps to Build Muscle Mass and Increase Strength

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When it comes to meeting your own personal fitness goals, knowing how many reps to build muscle is probably the most important factor of your workout. You see, rep range is what determines what type of growth we trigger. Whether your goal is just to get stronger, more solid, bigger, or a mixture of each, rep range is the deciding factor.

First Off, Let Me Clear Up a Huge Misconception
If you have been weight lifting for some time now, you’ve probably heard the “heavy weights, low rep for size and light weight, high reps for definition” theory. This couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite.

So how many reps to build muscle mass?
If you are solely interested in building mass, you must trigger sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This type of hypertrophy increases muscle cell size and is triggered by higher reps. Going against the common theory of lifting heavy with low reps is actually the way to go if your main goal is to pack on size.

What Kind of Growth am I Triggering with Low Reps?
If you are training low repetitions with heavy weight, you are mainly focusing on increasing strength. Training heavy with low reps has no effect on building muscle size. However, it could also increase muscle density for a more solid look.

How Many Reps to Build Muscle Mass, Strength, and Density?
1-3 Strength (xxxx)
4-6 Strength (xxx) Density (xxx)
7-10 Size (xxx) Strength (xx) Density (x)
11-15 Size (xxxx)

Now that you understand the importance of knowing how many reps to build muscle mass, strength, and/or density, base your workout plan around the correct rep range for your specific goals. If you are interested in mixing things up, I recommend training different rep ranges during different phases. For example, my first goal was to pack on as much mass as possible so I trained 11-15 reps for about 6 weeks. Then I wanted to get stronger and a little more solid so I trained 4-6 reps for another 6 weeks and was able the mold the look I was looking for.



This entry was posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011 at 1:46 pm and is filed under Build Muscle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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12 Responses to “How Many Reps to Build Muscle Mass and Increase Strength”

  1. C0oli0 Says:

    So here’s my problem if its even considered a problem…

    Lets use bench press for an example. I am able to do two 45s on each side or 135 with a 45 pound bar 12 reps.

    But, im only able to do below 10 reps whether i add 2.5 pounds on each side or 5 pounds or 10 pounds…Im trying to gain mass mainly, should i keep with the same weight or is it necessary to add weights for each set?

  2. Alain Gonzalez Says:

    Increase the weight by 2.5, as your body gets used to lifting this weight you will eventually have no problem lifting 12 reps. Once you can lift this weight up 15 reps, increase the weight again.

  3. Renaissance Says:

    If we work out our shoulders, then go to triceps right after…because on the shoulders workout youve made your triceps tired, you cant lift as heavy as you usually can when doing arms alone.

    Will you still gain mass if you end up doing lighter weights, but 10-15 reps? For example, doing arms alone, i can do about 100 pounds skull crushers, but can only do 60 pounds when working out shoulders.

    Will this make me weaker or stronger?

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  11. Billy Says:

    What do sprinters need to train for? I would think they’d need to train for strength, but many sprinters have big physiques so i am confused. What rep range is best for using muscle for faster sprinting?

  12. Ryuzaki Says:

    Ok i have always had this problem, i have alot of trouble estimating how much weight i should be lifting so that i stay in an optimal rep range. How much weight should i be lifting?

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