If you’ve been going to a commercial gym regularly, you might have noticed that some guys will crank out a set of 15 reps for an exercise while another guy just does 3 reps on a different exercise. What’s up with that?
The reason you’ll see people using totally different rep ranges is that some people have different goals. Doing more reps in your weight lifting routine can serve a great purpose, and doing less reps can also be useful.
Which rep range you ultimately decide to use should be based on your goals and what you want to accomplish. Here, we’ll talk about a few points that will help you make the best decision.
Let’s take a look at what each rep range can be useful for:
1-3 Reps: Best suited to boosting your overall strength. The focus here is improving the maximum amount of weight possible for a single repetition. You’ll see powerlifters, strongmen, and weightlifters use these ranges all of the time.
3-5 reps: Best for developing power, meaning that this rep range is good for the combination of both strength and speed. This is particularly useful for athletes training for sports performance. See stronglifts for more on strength training.
8-12 reps: This is the magic range touted by bodybuilders as being the most useful for adding lean muscle mass. Your muscles will enlarge the most in this range and feel a “pump” as you workout.
10-20 reps: Very useful for building mass in your legs. Your legs generally are able to handle more stress than your arms can handle.
20+ reps: Best for endurance.
Big and Strong?
It’s not uncommon for a person to want to build both muscle mass and strength. These two qualities usually go together, but bodybuilders with massive muscles often can’t lift as much weight as a strength trainer with somewhat smaller muscles.
Using the lower rep ranges will make you stronger first, and your muscles will also grow as a side benefit. Staying in the 8-12 rep range will build larger, more massive muscles first, and you’ll get stronger as a side benefit.
You can see where I’m going with this. Bigger muscles aren’t always equal to stronger muscles. In general, your muscles will become bigger as they become stronger, but each rep range has a particular focus. Pick your rep ranges based on your goals.
Just thought I'd throw this out here for you guys who are confused about this kind of thing.