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.