You pack your gym bag, head over to the gym, get changed, and you’re all set to start your workout. You grab some dumbbells, get into your starting position, and then you realize you’re missing something… HOW MANY REPS SHOULD I DO???
If you don’t know what a ‘rep’ is, it’s just a single completion, or repetition, of an exercise movement. This week we’re going to dive into understanding what rep range (or number of reps) is best suited for you.
For Getting Toned → 12-15 reps: This kind of rep range is normally used to tonemuscles. With a higher rep range and lower weight, you develop muscle endurance. Your rest between sets should be 30 to 60 seconds.
For Building Muscle → 8-10 reps: This range is ideal for muscle hypertrophy (building muscle size). If you’re trying to bulk up and add muscle mass - this rep range is for you. Your rest between sets should be 60 to 90 seconds.
For Gaining Strength → 4-6 reps: With a low rep range you’re able to lift more weight. Because of this, you’ll be yielding your best strength gains. This rep range is generally used by serious weightlifters and athletes who need to be extremely strong but not necessarily big in size – as this rep range is not optimal for hypertrophy (as discussed above). If your main training goal is muscle growth - low reps won’t do it for you. However,adding low reps into your workout program will help you build some extra strength which can only help you improve in other areas of your workouts. Your rest between sets should be 2-3 minutes, because you need a fuller recovery in order to repeat such strenuous lifting.
Warning: Although a lower rep range enables you to lift more than you normally would, it is not recommended unless you are extremely confident in your ability and form. If you are just starting out or have only been working out for a couple of years, you should stick to higher rep ranges (and lower weight) until you can perform exercises perfectly. If you use poor form with higher weights, you are at a very high risk of injury.
Ultimately, the rep range you will be using during your workouts is going to largely depend on your training goal. The above information is to help you understand why there are different rep ranges and what they’re generally used for. Never be afraid to incorporate different strategies into your workouts - as long as you do so in a safe and controlled manner. As you become more experienced with working out and weightlifting, you’ll find what works best for you!