There has been a complete reexamination of the so-called “hypertrophy zone.” It was typically thought that repetitions less than 5 increase strength (80-100% of a 1RM), repetitions between 8-12 stimulate muscle growth (60-80% of a 1RM), and repetitions greater than 15 optimize endurance (60% of a 1RM).
HIGH REP VS LOW REP: BEST REP RANGE FOR MUSCLE GROWTH SUMMARY
- There is no best rep range for muscle growth. Its a matter of preference.
- There is no hypertrophy zone. You can build muscle with heavy, moderate, and light weight as long as the reps are taken to a close proximity to failure.
- When volume (sets x reps x weight) is similar, all rep ranges build muscle to the same extent.
ARE HIGH REP WORKOUTS THE BEST REP RANGE FOR MUSCLE GROWTH?
For about the past decade, it was said that bodybuilders should train with 8-10 repetitions for muscle growth, but if you want to gain strength, train with 3-5 reps. The 8-10 reps were known as the hypertrophy or muscle-building reps zone.
LOW WEIGHT HIGH REP WORKOUT PLAN BUILDS MUSCLE SIMILAR TO A HEAVIER WEIGHT LOW REPS WORKOUT PLAN WHEN VOLUME IS SIMILAR
There has been a complete reexamination of the so-called “hypertrophy zone.” It was typically thought that repetitions less than 5 increase strength (80-100% of a 1RM), repetitions between 8-12 stimulate muscle growth (60-80% of a 1RM), and repetitions greater than 15 optimize endurance (60% of a 1RM). The new research suggests that muscle growth can occur at a wide range of repetitions; there is no magic number and no “hypertrophy zone.”
Lopez et al. analyzed 28 studies investigating muscle growth in response to various rep ranges. Only studies in which sets were performed to volitional failure were included. Studies comprised a wide variety of rep ranges, including high- (>15 repetitions maximum (RM), moderate- (9-15 RM), and low (≤8 RM) resistance training. The author concluded that in untrained- and recreationally-trained individuals, muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth was load or weight-independent. Strength gains only occurred by using a heavier weight. He also found that those with more years of training (2-7 years) needed more sets and reps to gain muscle.
4-6 REPS FOR MASS? BEST REP RANGE FOR MUSCLE GROWTH
A 2021 meta-analysis of 23 studies with 563 participants found that heavier weights increased maximal strength. In contrast, a wide spectrum of loads or weights (30-90%) can be used for muscle hypertrophy. The author also stated that heavier weights could cause excessive wear and tear on the joints and ligaments; therefore, alternating between light, moderate, and heavy loads is a good strategy for muscle hypertrophy.
More resistance training sessions are necessary for those with a longer training experience, providing greater increases in muscle size due to a principle of diminishing return. Untrained athletes can gain muscle with as little as 3-5 sets per week, but muscle growth will eventually plateau if you continue to use this set range. The more trained you are, the more volume you will need to grow.