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Old 04-10-2013, 09:19 AM   #1
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Default Is this just bro science?

I'm now quite aware, that you don't need to stick to the typical bodybuilding rep and set ranges to build muscle, and am confident that I'll get bigger and stronger doing 5x5 workouts.

What I find weird though, is that many have a different opinion.

Some of you might remember my question a few months ago regarding the difference in powerlifters muscles, and bodybuilders.
btb gave me an in depth answer with pictures, comparing other bodybuilders to himself.
What he said is that bodybuilding is an illusion of body fat.
A powerlifter will have just as much if not more muscle mass than a bodybuilder, but bodybuilders have a lower body fat percentage making them appear bigger.

This is quite obviously the case, and after comparing bodybuilders physiques with powerlifters that decided to cut up, they look the same.

What I don't get is why many think you need to lift lighter weight for more reps to build muscle.
"low reps build strength, high build muscle" is typically what you hear.

I know this is a similar question to those before, but I'm asking now from a different point of view.
Why do so many people think this?
Is it just bro science?
Because there isn't any evidence to back it up.


A few months back this was the main question as you know that I was always seeking the answer to.
Having learned from you guys and been given a viable explanation, I'm just curious as to why so many people go by this theory.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:28 AM   #2
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"low reps build strength, high build muscle" is typically what you hear.
It's nonsense.

For advanced lifters with different goals, lower reps become valuable, but let's face it...99% of bro lifters will never be advanced lifters, nor powerlifters.

There is a point in strength training where you hit soft walls and will probably need to work above 85% to gain strength.

I built most of my strength and muscle in the 5 to 12 rep ranges, as did 99% of the bodybuilders I have talked to. Obviously they did some isolation work outside of the 12 rep range, but the bulk of the work was done within these ranges. While intermediate powerlifters train differently than intermediate bodybuilders, the advanced bodybuilders I know are nearly as strong as the advanced raw powerlifters I know. Despite the rep range differences they have comparable strength levels.

There are no different rep ranges for strength and muscle for the mass of bro lifters. You can build strength in any range, and muscle in most reasonable ranges.

This minutiae is simply a rabbit hole to nowhere. Muscle and strength are built with consistency, hard work, good exercise selection, progression and proper food intake. Everything else simply boils down to personal experience and needs.

Instead of debating these things, the guys who are getting results are in the gym finding out what works best for them. Debates over rep ranges don't create physiques. Experience and needs-based training evolution does.

You need to detach from people who try to black and white things. Most of lifting is gray.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:34 AM   #3
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Let me add this...

If you give me, or JB, or LTL, or Brute, or Babs or any other successful lifter on this forum any reasonable rep range, and challenge us to build strength and muscle with it, we will. The magic isn't in reps.

1 rep sets to 20 reps.

If you can tell me I can only use 1 rep sets, and have to build muscle, I will do rest-pause singles until my form deteriorates. I might do 75 singles in 30 minutes, but I guarantee I will build muscle.

Sets and reps are merely tools. How they are used in a workout is far more important.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:42 AM   #4
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The way I understand the theory is that bodybuilders are going for maximum utilization of each muscle. If I really want to tear up my chest and I am doing my workout with sets of 2 or 4 then I may miss recruiting some muscle fibers because I can't go till "true" failure. I will fail before most of my muscle fiber fail because it is such a large weight. By lightening the weight you can make sure that you recruit all of the muscle because even when most have failed you can still push on.

That is my understanding of the theory but I just like to move a lot of weight... so this advice and 4 quarters is worth a dollar... so take it as you will
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:46 AM   #5
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John Christy wrote an article about the perfect rep range for strength and size. His answer was 8 reps, but said anything from 5 to 12 would work beautifully. Wish I could find that article again.

My thoughts are that over a lifetime of lifting a person will want to visit low reps, moderate reps, and even high reps. Mix things up, what works today may not work as well a year from now. Explore and have fun, the only important thing is that you make progress within your given rep range.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGRthat View Post
The way I understand the theory is that bodybuilders are going for maximum utilization of each muscle. If I really want to tear up my chest and I am doing my workout with sets of 2 or 4 then I may miss recruiting some muscle fibers because I can't go till "true" failure. I will fail before most of my muscle fiber fail because it is such a large weight. By lightening the weight you can make sure that you recruit all of the muscle because even when most have failed you can still push on.

That is my understanding of the theory but I just like to move a lot of weight... so this advice and 4 quarters is worth a dollar... so take it as you will
The meta-analysis of muscle growth studies does show that pushing sets to near failure is very beneficial, and recruits more muscle fibers. But work under 5 reps, or with 85% and above, does that as well.

With all this said, if you tell me to help someone build muscle using only 2 to 4 reps I could get it done. There are plenty of other variables you could adjust that bust these studies, such as rest-pause or increased volume. As fatigue mounts, the relative intensity increases. This isn't something most of these studies look at. They are generally only using a simplistic style of training.

The practice of pushing sets for max reps, shy of failure and form deterioration is one I trumpet. It is an easy system to understand, and the science backs its effectiveness.

At the end of the day sets and reps are only tools. As I stated, give me any rep range to me and I can maximize it.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by RGRthat View Post
The way I understand the theory is that bodybuilders are going for maximum utilization of each muscle. If I really want to tear up my chest and I am doing my workout with sets of 2 or 4 then I may miss recruiting some muscle fibers because I can't go till "true" failure. I will fail before most of my muscle fiber fail because it is such a large weight. By lightening the weight you can make sure that you recruit all of the muscle because even when most have failed you can still push on.

That is my understanding of the theory but I just like to move a lot of weight... so this advice and 4 quarters is worth a dollar... so take it as you will
I see.

I heard all muscle fibers are recruited from 5 to 12 reps.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
It's nonsense.

For advanced lifters with different goals, lower reps become valuable, but let's face it...99% of bro lifters will never be advanced lifters, nor powerlifters.

There is a point in strength training where you hit soft walls and will probably need to work above 85% to gain strength.

I built most of my strength and muscle in the 5 to 12 rep ranges, as did 99% of the bodybuilders I have talked to. Obviously they did some isolation work outside of the 12 rep range, but the bulk of the work was done within these ranges. While intermediate powerlifters train differently than intermediate bodybuilders, the advanced bodybuilders I know are nearly as strong as the advanced raw powerlifters I know. Despite the rep range differences they have comparable strength levels.

There are no different rep ranges for strength and muscle for the mass of bro lifters. You can build strength in any range, and muscle in most reasonable ranges.

This minutiae is simply a rabbit hole to nowhere. Muscle and strength are built with consistency, hard work, good exercise selection, progression and proper food intake. Everything else simply boils down to personal experience and needs.

Instead of debating these things, the guys who are getting results are in the gym finding out what works best for them. Debates over rep ranges don't create physiques. Experience and needs-based training evolution does.

You need to detach from people who try to black and white things. Most of lifting is gray.


I completely get what your saying.
I'm training now how you and the others told me to and I'm very confident I have the formula that works now.

I just don't get why people have such a warped perception of how the body builds muscle.
The countless times I'd been on other forums before I started, trying to learn what was the best route to go down.
I swear every single person told me to go really high reps, because low reps won't work and only build strength.
Your analogy of using reps and sets as tools is a really good way to look at it.
Its been proven that both low and high reps work to build muscle and strength like you said, but still the majority give bad advice, based on incorrect theories they heard from their friend, who heard it from their friends.
This misinformation along with my OCD tendencies accounted for allot of my confusion.
Its as if the actual truth is hidden amongst the experienced lifters like you guys.
Thank God I stumbled upon MAB.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:27 AM   #9
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My guess on where some of the 8-12 rep range came from, or at least stays around from, is the pump. I can fatigue the hell out of myself on any rep range, and get stronger and bigger from any range. However, 5 and below, i don't get the kind of pumps I do from 10+ reps, particularly for my arms. Higher rep range giving an arm pump, and you know the biceps warriors will grab ahold of it and hang on with their tiny forearms for dear life.
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Old 04-10-2013, 10:48 AM   #10
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My guess on where some of the 8-12 rep range came from, or at least stays around from, is the pump. I can fatigue the hell out of myself on any rep range, and get stronger and bigger from any range. However, 5 and below, i don't get the kind of pumps I do from 10+ reps, particularly for my arms. Higher rep range giving an arm pump, and you know the biceps warriors will grab ahold of it and hang on with their tiny forearms for dear life.
Come to think of it, when I used to hear that on bb.com and forums alike, they'd always refer to "the pump".

"Yeah man, you should go for 15 reps, thats how you gunna build muscle, I get ammmaazzing pump in my chest!"

Thats what one guy told me last year if I remember correctly, so I think your right.

Thanks for the input mate
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