“What is the optimal number of reps for each set? Is there a number or should I just go really to that heavy point when you can do just 2 reps for each set?” It is very probable that you, my reader, have asked yourself about what is the optimal number of repetition for each set to get the most from your workout. And you are right asking it, as there are many people in the gym who just ignore this aspect considering it unimportant. They work hard, sweat a lot, and despite this, the effects are not visible.
The idea about the optimal number of repetitions for increasing muscle mass is discussed for many years already. That’s why you have been recommended to do no more than 5 reps. This number is considered sufficient to increase muscle strength. Meanwhile, others tell you that you have to do 8-10 or even more reps to provide your muscle with a longer stress.
You are confused about who is right? The answer is that both methods are effective but in different directions. If you choose to do more reps, namely 8-10 reps for each set than your muscle mass will increase faster, while strength increases when doing fewer reps, namely five reps for each exercise.
The truth is that you have to use both methods since, in order to perform more reps with greater weights, you need first to get stronger. You have to focus all your attention on setting up an exercises program able to give you best results in terms of strength and muscle growth.
So, How the Number of Reps Affects the Muscle Size?
It is already very well known and confirmed by a long experience that muscles grow faster when you train at high intensity, follow a protein-rich diet and use anabolic hormones. But, among these three factors, the most important is proved to be muscle tension, which has a great influence on hormones and thus determines the muscle grow.
The rate of muscle growth depends on how quickly the amino acids penetrate the muscle cell. The more tension you put in the muscle and hold it longer, the more amino acids get into cells. Thus any exercises program meant to stimulate muscle growth is based on increasing intensity and duration of muscular tension.
So, the main goal of each workout should be to keep muscles under tension as long as possible. But this became difficult when training with weights because you have already seen that the weight you can handle proportionally decrease on a number of reps.
That’s why 8-10 reps for the set is considered enough to get amino acids to the muscles and contribute to their growth. By choosing to do a greater number of reps, you automatically decrease the weight you can work with and hence, you put less tension on your muscles.
As you know muscles growth due to microfibers caused by tension during training. During recovery, the body works hard to treat and namely this process makes the muscles stronger. It was proved that namely during 8-10 reps muscles are more damaged, and therefore grow faster.
So, 8-10 reps per set are considered enough for increasing muscle mass, while 1-5 reps with big weights are designed to increase muscle strength. But how many reps should be done for getting muscle definition? The answer is 11-20 reps and we will explain further why. If you choose to do these number of reps your muscles contract for a longer period of time.
This increases the number of mitochondria in muscle fibers. Mitochondria are the energy-producing structures that not only burn fat: the increase in their number leads to an increase in stamina and heart health. Moreover, such structural changes increase the amount of fluid in the muscle fibers, which also contributes to the definition of the muscles.
What Speed of Movement do you Have to Use in case of Reps for Better Results?
The speed you lift weights will give you different results. That’s why we can talk about slow and fast reps. Slow reps stimulate muscle growth, while fast reps muscle strength. Slow reps are those who have a duration of 10 seconds, while fast reps suppose doing reps explosively. If you choose to do fast reps with big weights then you greatly work muscle power and strength. There is no reason to try to choose between slow and fast reps since both of them are effective and have to be a part of every workout.
The number of reps for each set varies on your experience level too. If you are a beginner in the gym then you have to start with 15-20 reps for each set. This will keep you away from any injury and get your muscles to something new. Your goal during your first week in the gym is not to lose weight or to gain muscle mass, you just need to get to wake up your muscles for training. In the second week, the number of reps can be reduced to 15, and so one until you get ready for weight training.
There are many coaches who recommend doing a specific number of reps based on your body type. As you know there are three types of body: mesomorph, endomorph, and ectomorph. Men who belong to mesomorph body type are advised to do 6 to 8 reps for each set, while ectomorph should do only 6 reps. Bodybuilders who belong to endomorph body type would benefit from 12 up to 20 repetitions for each exercise.
It is very important to understand that our bodies have a genetic code, and namely it is the key factors which determine which number of reps you should for improving your muscle mass. We will not bother to repeat that along with a right number of reps you have to keep track of what you eat and how much you rest.
These factors have a greater influence on your body appearance than even the number of reps and you will get no success if you do not follow them. Do not forget to increase the ratio of protein and carbohydrates daily, and rest at least eight hours per day.
Allow your body more time for recovery if you worked with big weights. A three times a week training is great if you are doing 8-10 reps for each set for muscle growth. Never stick to a certain number of reps for a long period of time. Our body adapts to everything, and when this happens it reaches a plateau and there is no more muscle growth.
Thus, change the number of reps on monthly basis, and alternate slow reps with fast. You can choose to alternate weights too. The conclusion is that you have to train with the different number of reps getting stimulated different functions of the muscles. Only this way you will use the full potential of your muscle growth.