You can gain muscle with almost any rep range if you’re using the right amount of weight and proper intensity. Does this mean they’re all equal? Not at all – but the idea of a distinct cut-off point for certain benefits is out-dated and provably false!
Rather, there are different adaptations that are FAVOURED by different rep ranges. Let’s take a quick look at what these are and how you can use them in your training:
Low-Reps (1-3) are lower in overall mechanical tension and metabolic change. They’re very high in neuromuscular performance, however, which is why they improve strength and power more effectively. You can gain muscle with 3-rep sets, but you’ll struggle to get in lots of volume for muscle gains.
The middle range (4-8 reps) is where most of the high-quality volume will occur for strength movements. These are great because they use loads that are great enough to drive gains from neural and mechanical-tension mechanisms. This means bigger, stronger muscles at a priority
At the upper end of this range, you’ll also start bumping into metabolic change, which is one of the key factors in muscular endurance and MAY help with muscular size through cell volume.
Finally, above 8 repetitions, you’re sliding the continuum WAY towards metabolic change and muscular endurance. The last few reps of these sets will produce mechanical tension through fatigue, but your main gains will be metabolic.
So, which is best? All of them, probably. A combination of the different GOALS of rep ranges is important to get to what you want but working across the whole range is an important part of well-rounded strength and fitness.
If you have a specific goal – like a big lift you want to achieve – then there may be a ‘correct’ choice, but for most people it’s about using them in appropriate ways to achieve physique changes and better fitness/health! If you’re not sure what suits your goals, just shoot me a message!