Is There A Perfect Range For Muscle Growth?

When you first start training everybody tells you different things. Usually, it’s all nonsensical ideas found in cheap bodybuilding magazines. Every gym rat in this crazy bodybuilding game believes that he knows the answer and that his training methods are the best. Some see high reps as a ‘sissy workout’ while others determine low rep powerlifting work as fat man’s heaven.

One of the eternal questions in the world of iron is: What is the perfect rep range for muscle growth?

image via: http://www.thesochillnetwork.com;

image via: http://www.thesochillnetwork.com;

The answer of NattyOrNot.com is: It’s all about total volume – not rep ranges.


The body may be a machine but it’s a biological one and you don’t need to follow mathematical formulas when you are training. What would happen, if instead of the prescribed 10 reps you get 8? Will you remain smaller, if you miss 2 reps? Last time we checked there is no secret rep range that will take you to the Holy Grail of muscle growth.

It’s about total workout volume and intensity.

What is total workout volume?

Total workout volume represents the amount of lifted tonnage in a workout. If you did 3 sets of 10 reps with 100 lbs thats – 30 x 100 = 3000 lbs lifted. This is a very important number that many people have never heard of. However, analyzing its values can make all the difference.

If your overall workout volume is increasing, you are subjecting yourself to more stimulus and as result your body is adapting. One of the ways to adapt to lifting is growing bigger and stronger. Pushing your total workout volume upwards should be your main priority – not doing a precise amount of reps.

However…

Some of you may get the impression that you should aim just to get the number up while sacrificing intensity. This is not the case.

Let’s say that your 1 rep squat max is 200 lbs. This means that your 5 rep max is about 150-160 lbs. If you do 5 reps with your 5 rep max that’s – 750 lbs lifted. At the same time, if you do 110 lbs 7 times that’s about the same – 770 lbs lifted. However, it’s much easier to do 110 lbs x 7 than 5 x 150 lbs. This is why should always take into consideration intensity and don’t sacrifice it for the sake of lifting more lbs overall.

The point is to keep both volume and intensity moderate to high. How you do that is a personal preference. You can do 5×5, 10×3, 2×8…etc. What’s important is that you increase your overall workout volume while keeping moderate intensity. If that rule is respected, progress will occur regardless of the rep range you follow. Remember: the body cannot count and does not know how many reps you’ve done. The language you use to speak to your body and tell it to grow is lifted tonnage and intensity, not exactly rep ranges.

2 comments

  1. Paul

    Agree that “the point is to keep both volume and intensity moderate to high”, but the numbers always matters in order to do that. Sets, reps, loads, times/week etc. The number of the reps is very related to the percentage of the loads.

    For exemple : 4 to 1 reps means high loads, while 10 to 16 reps means easy loads. First develops strenght, second develops endurance. Two different things. For bodybuilding the truth is in the middle : 10 to 4 reps.

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