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HomeHealth & FitnessAre All Rep Ranges Really the Same for Hypertrophy? - Christian Thibaudeau...

Are All Rep Ranges Really the Same for Hypertrophy? – Christian Thibaudeau Coaching – Forums

The Truth About Bodybuilding Reps

As long as you’re training to near failure, all rep ranges are the same for muscle growth. Popular idea, but is it true? Answers here.

Rep Ranges: Don’t Keep It Simple?

To become a popular strength coach or “fitness personality,” it helps to say things people like to hear.

When I started out as both a coach and author, I craved new methods and revolutionary approaches. Innovators that broke the mold were the most popular sources of info. We’d get excited about learning the new method. We wanted to know more about why and how it worked. This led to the development of even more novel methods.

And yeah, it also led to complex programs and created some confusion about how to put all of that info together into an effective plan. But that was part of the fun. Heck, it was the most fun part!

Today, the pendulum has swung the other way. People want simple – easy to apply and easy to understand. They want REASSURING. There’s nothing wrong with that… until simple becomes “too simple.” A lot of pieces are dropped for the sake of simplicity.

The problem? This often leads to beige (a French expression that loosely translates to bland or tasteless) programs that might be simple but are very unmotivating. And, in some cases, “too simple” actually leads to faulty information.

One such example? The current trend of saying this:

“Every rep range will trigger the same amount of hypertrophy provided that you do your set with the same level of effort (proximity to failure).”

In other words, if you do 6, 12, 20, or 30 reps per set and stop one rep short of failure, you’ll get the exact same amount of muscle growth. But is that right?

Here are some quick thoughts:

Now let’s dive into the small print.

How It Started

To the best of my knowledge, the idea that all rep ranges are the same comes from a study I wrote about myself in a previous article.

Mainly, a gaggle doing 3 units to failure (leg extension) at 30% of their 1RM had the identical hypertrophy beneficial properties as a gaggle doing 3 units to failure at 80% (however half the energy). Whereas fascinating, don’t overlook this examine was performed on learners utilizing a single train. Probably not relevant to our actuality.

Then got here the idea of “efficient reps” by Chris Beardsley. (Word that I do subscribe, largely, to this principle.) An efficient rep is a repetition in a set that mixes the 2 key components to stimulate progress:

  1. A excessive recruitment of the growth-prone fast-twitch fibers.
  2. A excessive degree of effort to finish the rep. Because of this despite the fact that you’re attempting to push the load as laborious as you’ll be able to, it strikes slowly.

You want each for a rep to be efficient at stimulating progress:

  • In case you transfer a weight explosively, you’ll recruit loads of fast-twitch fibers, however the muscle contracts too quick to have most rigidity. So, it received’t produce a lot progress.
  • In case you go gradual on goal with a lightweight weight, you get loads of rigidity on the recruited fibers however not sufficient fast-twitch recruitment to be efficient.

In a standard set, whatever the variety of whole reps you do, solely the final 5 reps (should you go 1 rep wanting failure) will mix each situations and be efficient for progress. Therefore the assumption that the variety of reps you do doesn’t matter – should you push your set laborious.

But Is That True?

In theory, it is. And it’s intellectually elegant and makes training super simple. If muscle growth is all you care about, you can use any rep range and load, and they’ll work equally, provided you use the same effort level.

The modern lifter loves simplicity, but reality isn’t so black and white.

For one thing, various rep range or rep-execution styles have effects other than muscle growth – effects that might be as equally desirable as growth.

For example, if you perform 6 reps (heavy weight) 1 rep short of failure, and I do 20 reps (light weight) 1 rep short of failure, we might get a similar hypertrophy response. But you’ll gain more strength than me because lower reps with heavy weights improve neurological factors more than lighter weights for high reps.

But I will gain more resistance and maybe favor increased glycogen storage (provided that sufficient carbs are ingested) by upregulating GLUT-4 more than lower/heavier reps.

Other things:

So no, each repetition quantity/vary shouldn’t be equal. That’s oversimplistic and short-sighted, nevertheless it’s a very good advertising technique.

And Then There’s This Study

If all rep ranges are equal for hypertrophy (provided that the same effort level is used), then it would mean that combining more than one rep range in a workout, or a week, wouldn’t provide any added gains compared to only performing one type of rep range.

The following study (1) compared 8 weeks of training (three times per week for the lower body using squats and leg extensions) for three different protocols:

  • Group 1: Heavy (low reps progressing from 82% to 94% using 3-5 reps/set
  • Group 2: Light (high reps using 28-34% to muscle failure for 2-3 sets)
  • Group 3: Combination of both

The group combining both rep ranges had more muscle growth than both groups utilizing only one range.

Although this is only one study, it’s still an interesting finding. It shows that there might be benefits from combining various rep ranges, even strictly for growth.

My Recommendations

  • I’ve always had my best results by combining at least two rep ranges in a workout. Some of my most effective workouts (The Layer System and HSS-100) use 4 ranges in a exercise for a similar muscle.
  • In case you’re keen on extra than simply measurement, use varied rep ranges to coach qualities helpful in your exercise. For instance, an explosive athlete will do his hypertrophy work otherwise (totally different rep ranges and execution) than an endurance athlete.
  • If you wish to enhance energy as a lot as measurement, begin with large lifts with decrease reps, even in an hypertrophy part (4-6 reps, for instance) and enhance the reps step by step from train to train.
  • In case you’re coaching utilizing feeling and pump as your goal, begin with one train for increased or intermediate reps (concentrating on the primary muscle you wish to develop) at first of the exercise.
  • If going low reps/heavy weight on an train prevents you from correctly feeling the muscle you wish to stimulate, embody increased rep work with most rigidity and mind-muscle connection for that muscle. In reality, should you don’t really feel the goal muscle doing the work, go lighter utilizing increased reps on that motion, too.


  1. Fischetti F et al. Hypertrophic Adaptations Of Lower Limb Muscles In Response To Three Different Resistance Training Regimens. Acta Medica Mediterranea. 2020 Sep;5(36):3235.

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