There are so many different ways to train and it can be hard to figure out which is best. While each method has its perks, it comes down to the goals we set. If we want to get strong, we have to lift heavy. If we want to get big, we have to lift heavy and do a lot of reps. Each has its place, and we will discuss which rep range you should be doing depending on your specific goals.
Going Heavy Vs. Going Light
To begin we are gonna look at a study that involves the same training volume, but at different loads. This one study in particular tested the subjects with 3 sets of 10 and 10 sets of 3. They split the sample size in half and tested muscle growth at the end of 8 weeks.
What they found is that both groups had similar muscle growth at the end of the study for both rep ranges. What this tells us is that as long as volume remains the same, the muscle growth is similar. However, there was a difference in perceived fatigue of the subjects.
It took a lot more time for the 10 sets of 3 group to recover due to the heavier weights they were lifting. Heavier loads will always effect the central nervous system more compared to lighter loads. Now the questions becomes, if they result in similar muscle growth, which rep range is best?
How To Apply High and Low Rep Range
The answer is both! We want to do higher rep ranges to build endurance and muscle size, and we also need to do heavier loads to increase overall strength. If we only focus on sets of 10, where you focus on lighter weights, we are going to start losing strength. Our ability to move something heavy is something that you have to practice over and over again.
Now the question becomes, how do we apply this in our training? How do we make the best of both rep ranges and light to heavy weights? We need to look at what is the focus of your training block.
So we need to figure out what is the purpose of this training block right now?
If our focus is on muscle endurance and size we are going to focus on the higher reps for the majority of training. We are still going to try to lift heavy, but doing 8-15 reps or more per set.
If our focus is to get really strong, then our focus will shift to heavier weights. We will keep our reps between 1-6 per set for somewhere between 8-24 total reps for the session.
What needs to be noted here as well is that you won’t just do one or the other, you’ll do both at the same time, but in a different format. This is vitally important and should not be overlooked as it will keep you healthy and give us the results we are looking for.
Rep Range Depends On Block Focus
For example, we are going to be in an endurance or size gaining block, where heavy loads are not that important quite yet. The primary lifts will be bench, deadlift, squat and so forth, that never changes. What does change is the weight on the bar.
Because our focus is size, we are going to pick weights that we can struggle through for 8-15 reps for 3-6 sets. This allows us to accumulate a lot of volume and put on the size we are going after. In addition to the main lifts, we are going to be doing similar rep ranges for all our accessory.
When we switch to the strength emphasis things will slightly change, but not much. The primary compound lifts will remain the same, but the weight will be heavier and the reps will be around 1-6 per set for 5-10 sets. Then you will do your 8-15+ reps on all your accessory work. The accessories will allow you to continue to build size and stay healthy during the heavy stage of lifting.
Now you may be wondering why not do the strength focus all the time? The reason we want to avoid heavy strength work year round is because it takes a heavy toll on the body. So we have to make sure we use periodization. Periodization is the changing of programming throughout the year to fit the demands of the sport and allow for optimal recovery and progression.
A simple example would look like 8-12 weeks of volume building followed by 8-12 weeks of strength work. After the strength work block is over, take 1-2 weeks of light training and start back over with volume training.
Take Out The Guess Work
Training is more complex than people first think. If you want true long lasting results you cannot show up to the gym every day and do whatever you want. You won’t see progress or you will hurt yourself in the long-term.
If you have struggled seeing progress the last few months or years, we want to help you out. We take pride in what we do and ensure we take the correct steps to guide you to reaching your goals. Lionheart APF is a Topeka, KS gym that has been helping the community live lives worth living.
We are fitness fitted for you! If you aren’t in the Topeka area, but need a coach to keep you on track we got you covered. We offer online remote strength coaching as well as nutritional coaching. Stop shopping and waiting around to reach your potential, give us a shout today! Hit the link to find out more and set up a free consultation —->> https://lionheartapf.com/join/