I’ve stated before that 1 rep range beats them all for size gains, and that’s 8-12 reps per set.
When rep ranges are too low, you make more “neural” adaptations and some strength gains. See these 2 articles for more:
On the flip side, when rep ranges are too high, the workout becomes more aerobic, you recruit the wrong type of muscle fibers for growth (type 1), and the workouts become really ineffective at stimulating gains in size.
You should be switching up rep ranges, and there are 2 ranges specifically that you need to use if your main goal is hypertrophy (size gains). Other rep ranges may be good for other training goals, but I haven’t the slightest interest in any of that.
THE TRUTH ABOUT REP RANGES
You don’t need to take my word for it. The National Strength and Conditioning Association says that,
“8 to 12 reps per set, are best for increasing muscle hypertrophy”
Tom Venuto echoes this when he says,
“The advantage of the 8-12 rep range is that you get maximal hypertrophy”
And this is from the Charles Poliquin Group:
“Mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress are best produced with the following “hypertrophy-style” protocol: A moderate rep range (8 to 12 reps) with moderate loads (65 to 85 percent of the 1RM)…Training to failure is also indicated because lifting to the point where you can’t go anymore produces muscle damage and a large protein synthesis response, which will lead to greater muscle development.”
By the way, you can get more on why training to failure beats not-to-failure training in my last article here.8 to 12 reps per set are best for increasing muscle hypertrophy. Click here for more Click To Tweet
So, in agreement with what I teach in free Targeted Hypertrophy Training program (THT), the Poliquin Group is stating that it’s 8-12 reps to failure – not just picking up any old weight and lifting it 8-12 times per set.
Let me explain this, because people are still asking me questions (even though it’s all completely covered in the THT training manual – download it below). This is from Page 1 of the THT book:
- For each and every set, the weight needs to be heavy enough to not allow you to get more than 12 reps, but it needs to be light enough so you can get at least 8.
- This will involve a little ‘trial and error’ on your first 1 or 2 THT workouts, but it’s well worth the gains you are going to get.
- So if you got 8 or 9 reps on the first set of a particular exercise, you will need to knock off about 10% of the weight for the 2nd set to allow you to and rep to positive failure again between 8 and 12 reps.
- So in order to stay in the correct rep range in all sets, we ‘drop-set’ a little and make each successive set of the same exercise a little lighter (10% works well).
- What is positive failure? Positive failure is defined as that point in a set when you can no longer complete a full positive/lifting/raising of the rep without assistance. This is when you end your set.
6 – 8 REPS PER SET
In THT, we also use the 6-8 reps-to-failure rep range.
6-8 reps per set produces 75-85% Neural & Metabolic Strength & Hypertrophy
Why do we need this rep range?
What we really want is ‘chronic hypertrophy‘ i.e. continuous growth over a long period of time.
When we take time to use a slightly lower rep range, we still benefit from hypertrophy gains, but more focus is given to neural and strength adaptations.
When we finish this cycle of training, it will have a positive carry-over effect to our hypertrophy cycle (8-12 reps). This allows us to complete more reps and use more weight over time. We therefore continue to get bigger and stronger (chronic hypertrophy).Switching between 8-12 & 6-8 reps per set produces chronic ongoing hypertrophy. More here Click To Tweet
By the way, A meta-analysis in 2007  found that lifting 60%-85% of your 1 Rep Max for reps is probably the most effective way to stimulate hypertrophy. Reps-wise, that translates to about 6-12 reps per set. The high (12) and low (6) in THT training. Perfect!
Let me just wrap up by telling you exactly how these cycles fit into THT training.
You should do:
- 10 weeks training in the 8-12 rep range. Followed by…
- 10 weeks training in the 6-8 rep range. Followed by…
- 10 weeks training in the 8-12 rep range. Followed by…
- 10 weeks training in the 6-8 rep range…
…and so on ad infinitum. Make sure you are taking a full week’s rest in between those 10-week cycles for full local and systemic recovery.
You can train 3-days (full-body) or 5 days (split) per week. I make no hard-and-fast rule on that. I personally am only using the 3-day full body plan now.
Try both, if you wish. Stick with the cycle that give you the best gains, or switch them up every now and then.
Both 3-day and 5-day workouts are laid out in the THT manual and also in the free Android App.
START BUILDING MUSCLE…FREE
There are of course other factors aside from rep range like frequency of training, volume (number of sets), intensity, which exercises to use, optimal rest between sets, and so on. THT has got it all covered.
If you’re new here or just haven’t downloaded your FREE copy of THT training before, do it now! Many many thousands of people around the world will tell you it’s the best move they ever made. See their results here. You WILL notice changes in the mirror in a few weeks, if not the first week. The scales, your clothes, and other people’s comments will also confirm this. Download it free below…
If you have any questions about training or diet, ask me below. If you need personalized 1-on-1 help from me, consider booking a consultation with me.
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Train With Intensity!
 The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Wernbom M, Augustsson J, Thomeé R.
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