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Old 02-12-2010, 02:20 PM   #1
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Default Community Article - Rep Range, Strength and Hypertrophy

I am starting a series of "community articles" where I will ask your opinions on various topics, and I want your blunt, unadulterated answer.

I will take the very best from this conversation and place it in an article on the topic. There is no "maximum" word limit, so this article can be as long as a book if the topic is hot enough.

Don't hold back your opinion, even if you disagree with another lifter...and as always, keep the conversation respectful.

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How much does rep range impact strength and hypertrophy gains?

It is commonly said that lower rep ranges build strength and restrict muscle growth, and that higher rep ranges are good for hypertrophy but not for strength. Is this an oversimplification of the issue of rep ranges, or does the rep range used have a big impact on strength versus hypertrophy gains?
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:19 PM   #2
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i have somewhat of a conflicted opinion as to which one is more beneficial to which body part. personally i cannot get my chest to grow without big weight and low reps. and high reps will never build my strength up period. but on the other hand my bi's for example are not responding well to tryin to move heavy weight at all, neither in size or strength. i seem to have to use an 8-10 slow moving rep(at least 6 minimum) to see any results in both size and strength here. one is telling me to go low reps heavy weight the other telling me higher reps slower increases in weight or gain nothing. with this being said i personally will never go to high rep sets in squats,bench, or deads for strenght or muscle growth cuz i don't believe it can achieve it as well as low reps.
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:27 AM   #3
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Old 02-13-2010, 09:47 AM   #4
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I have seen better size AND strength gains with heavier weights on the big compound moves. In order to be able to move heavier and heavier weights, I have progressively moved my rep ranges lower for those exercises. Conversely for isolation moves, I have found that upping the weight into the 3-5 rep range led to a loss of form as I tired quickly. Therefore I tend to stick to 8-12 for isolation work. Strength gains on this style have been great, even whilst cutting, and I'm looking forward to testing it for hypertrophy on the next bulk. Have definitely maintained more muscle mass using this method than I did sticking to higher rep ranges for ALL movements on the previous cut.

There's my two pence/cents

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Old 02-13-2010, 09:53 AM   #5
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My best advice, dont worry about it. You want strength get stronger, you want size get stronger while cutting rest. Do what ever rep range that gives you an orgasm and add weight to it
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:24 AM   #6
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Looking good so far guys. Thanks and keep it coming.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:51 AM   #7
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Well I think the body is adaptive in two ways.

1) Progression of weights - Lifting heavy and trying to keep moving up
2) Progression of reps - Stamina if you will, your body can do more reps if you push it.

I think both can build size. Maybe reps are more for tweaking/sculpting (?).

I go back to a bicyclists legs. Some of them just look plain funny with their frail upper body and their tree trunk legs. Do you think if they were squatting heavy that their torso would look like a twig? I don't. They may be squatting, but I feel sure that it is light to moderate weight for reps. But I could be wrong.
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:00 AM   #8
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Well I think the body is adaptive in two ways.

1) Progression of weights - Lifting heavy and trying to keep moving up
2) Progression of reps - Stamina if you will, your body can do more reps if you push it.

I think both can build size. Maybe reps are more for tweaking/sculpting (?).
there are quite a few more progressions than this, but one thing i want to note here is that it is pointless to try for only one without the other.

If my max single in the squat is 400ibs, it is really hard to add 5ibs without making that my max triple for example. same thing goes for rep progression, eventually you will hit a point where in order to see a specific adaptation (i.e. growth/strength) you need to add weight, because there is a point in which your muscles will begin to change the adaptation, obviously if your max curl for 8 reps is 80ibs, your arms will look different than if you can do 100 curls with that 80ibs.
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:18 AM   #9
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I think we can all agree that progression of weight and reps is intertwined. You perform more reps with 400, your lift max goes up. You start to lift more weight than 400, and the number of reps you can do with 400 goes up.

The question is, in a general sense...can you gain size from lower rep sets, and can you gain strength from higher rep sets?

We agree that there are numerous training variables. I would like to keep this conversation grounded in a more generalized context - one that the average lifter can connect with. I think it's fairly safe to say that most lifters don't progress in reduced rest periods, TUT, etc. These progressional tactics may be used from time to time for various reasons, but they are rarely staples for the average powerlifter or bodybuilder.

Let's take 2 beginners...Lifter A and Lifter B. They are twins. We have them eat 500 cals above calorie maintenance for 5 years. We also have them both use the same split.

Lifter A performs compound lifts in the 8 to 12 rep range, and focuses on progression.

Lifter B performs compound lifts in the 1 to 5 rep range, and focuses on progression.

At the end of 5 years will they have equal strength and muscle mass?
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:35 AM   #10
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Lifter A performs compound lifts in the 8 to 12 rep range, and focuses on progression.

Lifter B performs compound lifts in the 1 to 5 rep range, and focuses on progression.

At the end of 5 years will they have equal strength and muscle mass?

That is assuming testosterone levels are identical, and rest time is identical, diet is identical...etc. But I guess that's a whole other subject

I'm curious about your questions that you had when you talked to Victor Costas. My questions for him would be, did you get your size/physique by doing this light weight high rep scheme, or did you build up to it and just maintain it with the light weight high rep scheme.
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