With so much information out there, it is understandable to ask, “What rep range is best for me?” Like many other topics I have discussed, this one has a  broad answer, it depends on what you want to accomplish. Below I have broken down the most common goals with rep ranges that are associated with it:

  • Strength- 1-6 reps
  • Muscle Hypertrophy (size)- 6-12 reps
  • Muscular Endurance- 12+ reps

It is also important to remember that these rep ranges are not exclusive in that only that one thing can be accomplished in that rep range. For example, if you are doing a program where you are doing 4-6 reps to gain strength, does not mean that you won’t experience muscle hypertrophy. Likewise, just because you are doing a muscle hypertrophy focused program does not mean that you will not be able to increase your endurance or strength. These are broad categories but let me break it down a little more for you.

Strength

When you talk about strength gains in this context, you can think more like Powerlifting, Olympic lifting or Strongman training. When you are training to increase your strength, the most common movements that produce the best results are your Deadlifts, Squats, Cleans, Snatches, Bench Press, etc. If you train in this rep range are likely training for a competition of some sort and can usually put up some serious weight.

What you will also notice is that these Powerlifters or Olympic lifters come in all shapes and sizes. That is because big muscles do not always reflect strength! That may seem odd but it’s true. You will see 300 pound bodybuilders that may squat 500 pounds but it is not unusual to see a 170 pound powerlifter squat that and even more. Why is that? Strength is actually more of a neurological adaption as opposed to a muscular adaptation. Yes, in general, the more muscle a person has the stronger they will likely be, but depending on how they train and eat, strength will vary.

Muscle Hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy is the most common goal amongst people when they start working out. When you have muscular hypertrophy, you will see an increase in muscle size as well as some strength gains. The muscle hypertrophy range is what most bodybuilders and fitness models do to increase their muscle size. I personally have seen great results in muscle gains in this category with my clients and myself and is the “base” rep range for most people.

Muscular Endurance

The muscular endurance rep range starts at 12 reps and higher. This rep range is where I start most of my clients who are just starting out to build up their muscular endurance. You may put on some muscle mass in this stage but it won’t be much because you are engaging your slow-twitch, type 1 muscle fibers that have limited hypertrophy ability. Nonetheless, I have found that this rep range can really accelerate muscle gains when someone transitions to a muscular hypertrophy program because their muscular endurance is high. People who are most likely to train in this rep range are endurance athletes such as runners, rowers, etc. This is also a great rep range for aging adults as well who may not have the strength to lift much weight.

What To Take Away From This

After reading all this information, you may be asking, what is the big takeaway from this? You need to match your training regimen with your fitness goals so that you have the best chance to succeed. People can often become frustrated with their results, or lack thereof, when improper training methods are used.

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