Reps range for hypertrophy
How many times do we come across this question in at gym, what is the ideal reps range for hypertrophy? Short answer to this question is to achieve hypertrophy you need to train in 8-12 reps range and I will explain more in this article why some people argue that for hypertrophy you need to train at 6-8 reps range with heavy weight. More weight lift is always equal to more muscle gain in the and in 6-8 rep range you will be able to lift more weight than you can lift in 8-12 rep range that is true but lets look at 3 most popular rep ranges that bodybuilders train at gym before we can decide correctly about optimum reps range for hypertrophy.
High rep range (15-20 reps)
Some people argue that high reps range will give you more time under tension and it is important to train for 15 or high rep range or at-least 15 reps per set. So do we need to train at 15 or more reps range for hypertrophy? While 15 or more reps are optimum for endurance they do little towards hypertrophy as you need to stimulate type II fast twitch muscle fibers for hypertrophy and that is not possible with high reps range and less weight lifted. High reps range is helps in endurance training so if you are training for endurance you can train at high reps with less weight on the bar but for hypertrophy this reps range is not optimal. There will be hypertrophy with high rep range but not so much as you won’t giving enough stimulus to your muscles in order to promote hypertrophy.
Low rep range (1-5 reps)
One may argue that high reps range is not optimal for hypertrophy but low rep range will stimulate type II fast twitch muscle fiber and hence would result in hypertrophy, training with low reps range also have another advantage that you will lift more weight and more weight lifted is equal to more muscle gain right? Well lifting more weight is needed for gaining more muscle mass that is true but you also need to consider time under tension. With low reps range your muscle will have less time under tension hence promoting less protein synthesis and less hypertrophy. It is possible to achieve hypertrophy with low rep range with heavy weight but that hypertrophy will be less compare to moderate reps range.
When you are lifting heavy weight which is generally 85% to 90% of your 1 rep max you are also taxing your central nervous system and you can’t continuously train with heavy weight for longer duration for example 2 months, specially for 90-120 reps per muscle group so can we say that low reps range for hypertrophy are optimal? Low reps range is good for strength training but doesn’t promote muscle hypertrophy as much.
Moderate reps range (8-12)
When you are lifting weight in the rep range of 8-12 reps per set, you are lifting 75% to 80% of your 1 rep max and hence you are lifting considerably heavy weight, this amount of weight is not very high to tax your central nervous system and is enough to stimulate fast twitch type II muscle fiber. This rep range also provides more time under tension hence giving you a optimal reps range for hypertrophy. Training in this range your sets for one exercise should look like as follows:
- 1st set 12 reps (enough weight to do 12 reps)
- 2nd set 10 reps (increase weight after 1st set)
- 3rd set 8 reps (increase weight increase weight after 2nd set)
As you can see starting at 12 reps you should aim to increase weight in every set and lower your rep range if you are one of those guys who would like to do 4 sets per exercise you can add another set by increasing weight in 4th set and doing 6 reps
What should your training schedule look like for optimum hypertrophy and strength
You need to train for both strength and hypertrophy I personally like to do both moderate reps range training and low reps training in 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 ratio which means I change my reps range from moderate reps to low rep range every 2 to 3 weeks, this helps me avoid plateau. I have written an article before on breaking plateau. This way I also make sure my strength is increasing and my body doesn’t adopts to one rep range if you are hardcore lifter you know that you need to continuously gain strength and outperform your previous workout in order to grow. You can design your workout based on your personal fitness goals you may also want to add endurance training if you are training to be good in particular sport which requires you to have certain level of endurance for particular muscle group.
So what is the ideal reps range for hypertrophy? Ideal rep range would be 12-8 reps per exercise and I would go as far to say that you can also training for 6-8 reps depending upon your goals but 6 to 8 reps will be more inclined towards strength and less toward hypertrophy. You can also do 10 reps for each set hence doing 3 sets which is 30 reps per exercise. It depends upon your personal choice but for hypertrophy optimal rep range as I read and understand and also from my personal experience and observation at gym is 8-12 reps per muscle group no matter whoever says otherwise. Yes you need to train for strength to get stronger and as you grow stronger you will lift more weight and we all know more weight lift will help you build more muscles but for hypertrophy make sure that you stay in 8-12 reps range without making your body to adopt and plateau. Let me know in comments section below what rep range do you train what have worked for you and what mistakes you have made when choosing right reps range.