How Many Rep’s To Build Muscle And Other Rep Range’s


Reps to build Muscle

Yes, different reps ranges mean different things to your muscles… let’s take a closer look at how many rep’s to build muscle

If you’re about to start the best workout routine designed to help you gain muscle mass fast, you need to come to understand how the rep ranges you are using will come into play.

Most people know the basics – lower reps means heavier weight lifted and vice versa, but they don’t fully understand everything that rep ranges will influence.

As such, they may either make critical programming errors with their bodybuilding workout approach or they may wind up seeing less than optimal results because of this oversight.

To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, let’s discuss some key facts to know about the various rep ranges you’ll utilize in your workout program. If your completely new to the gym you can check out workout’s for beginners.

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How Many Reps To Build Strength?

The Low Rep Range

First, you have the lower rep range.

This range consists of working in the 3-8 rep level, with most people falling in and around 5-8 reps. Rarely will an individual move down to the 3 rep category unless they are aiming to test their max.  Five reps serves as a great minimum level to be at which will allow you to lift a maximally heavy weight but still get enough total endurance in there to see the muscle grow.

The great thing about lifting in this rep range is that it’s not very glycogen depleting.  This means that if you happen to be on a lower carb diet or are reducing your overall calorie intake to help boost fat loss results, you’ll typically find this rep range is slightly easier.  The weight will be heavy, but you won’t fatigue yourself due to glycogen depletion like you will work in a higher rep range.

Additionally, since one of the primary missions when on a fat cutting, program is to maintain muscle mass and this is best done by lifting as heavy as you can, this meets this purpose very well.

For those who want to gain maximum muscle strength, it’s clearly the best choice as well.  Since you can lift the most weight at this level, you will see a direct increase in your total strength gains experienced.

This said, this rep range is also the most draining on the central nervous system.

It’s going to take a lot of mental and physical energy to push up that much weight, so you will find that it really taxes your body quite thoroughly. This is one reason why after a few sets of very heavy squats (such as what you’d do in the 5 X 5 program), you’re feeling totally fatigued.  In fact, you might be so fatigued that hitting the gym the next day is out of the question.  Even if you were to work a completely different muscle group, the fact is that your central nervous system is still feeling the fatigue from the day before and as such, won’t be able to generate as much total muscle fiber recruitment and strength to execute the movement.

So that is a drawback to be very aware of. If you train in this rep range day after day after day, don’t be surprised if you are burning out a relatively short time later.

This rep range will also call for you to utilize a few more sets total with each exercise you do, often doing 4-5 sets overall.  You’ll also primarily use this technique during your compound exercises, as this is when you have more total muscle fibers behind you and can lift more weight to start with.

Using this rep range on the isolation exercises will typically put your joints, tendons, and ligaments at risk for an injury, so tread carefully.


How Many Rep’s To Build Muscle?

The Medium Rep Range

Next we come to the medium rep range. This rep range is the happy middle ground, where you’ll be lifting in and around 8-12 reps. This rep range is ideal for hypertrophy training, meaning getting you bigger.

With the lower rep range, you will gain great strength improvements, but you may not gain as much size. You’ll still gain some size without a doubt as by nature if you get stronger and are eating enough calories you will gain some size, but the size gains won’t be comparable to what they would have been had you been lifting in the 8-12 rep range.

Lifting in this rep range is going to also bring about something called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which basically refers to the ‘pump’ you get after the workout you do. This is the build-up of byproducts and blood in the muscle tissue, which is going to make you look more engorged than before.

While this size gain isn’t going to stay present days later, it’s still highly motivating and can also prompt an increase in permanent muscle size increase if the calorie support and heavy lifting is there as well.

The medium rep range isn’t quite as taxing on the central nervous system, so once again, easier to perform day after day.  You can utilize this rep range for either compound exercises or isolation exercises – so there is great flexibility in how you can include it into your approach.

This rep range will reduce how much total strength you gain, but at the same time, you will see an increase in total muscle endurance, so this fact can help to train your body how to tolerate fatigue build-up better, which can help you push harder in all the future sets to come.

The medium rep range is the most commonly utilized rep range in bodybuilding programs, so one to definitely consider making good use of it. For even more muscle gains you can check out the best supplements for muscle growth.


How Many Reps To Build Muscle Endurance?

The High Rep Range

Finally, you have the high rep range of 12-15+ reps per set.  This rep range is typically strictly limited to isolation movements, unless you are trying to bring a muscle to full exhaustion on a compound exercise or strengthen the mind-muscle connection you have. Since you will be using a much lighter weight when doing this rep range, it can help you really ‘feel’ the movement, which can then bring about better results when you increase the weight again using the same feeling.

If you just go through a movement without thought, results will not be coming along.  Really feeling each muscle contracting is what will do it and this technique can help.

This rep range is primarily targeted toward muscular endurance, not strength gains and while you may gain a little bit of added size using it, it won’t be nearly as significant as you would doing the low and medium rep range. You can find this in many top military workouts as they are very focused on muscular endurance for combat.

Utilizing this rep range when doing isolation exercises such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, or lateral raises, can be a good way to help bring out additional muscle definition and really fine tune your physique once you’ve built the level of size that you’re after.

So keep it in mind for that purpose. 

There’s no real benefit to going beyond the 15 rep range however – at that point you will simply be using such a lightweight that it no longer becomes beneficial in any regard other than to burn up a few calories.

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So with this information in mind understand your rep’s to build muscle a huge part in the way your muscles will turn out.  Know how to program them into your workout program and use them properly and you can build muscle fast and achieve that goal body whatever that might be.

-Terry Asher


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Gym Junkies Founder & Editor in Chief at Gym Junkies LLC
I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my extensive fitness blog, top fitness videos, leading workout supplements, and top selling eBooks, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.
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  1. I have always had a good workout but in 2004 I was run over by a vehicle while at work. I have had 8 surgeries mostly on shoulder bicep reattachment to brachial and also I have had one bicep permanently detached . Most recent in April had a shoulder replaced Dr said I could start lifting again . Trying to stay light more reps . Miss the big burn and I seem to tire before end of workout looking for Ideas Thanks


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