So you’ve finally got yourself a gym membership and attempted some machines and weights but now this talk of reps and sets is flying around and and its all getting a bit much.
Repetitions (reps) simply put are the number of times an exercise is performed and sets are like a collection of reps. For example doing bicep curls for 4 sets of 10 reps means doing 10 bicep curls, taking a short pause and then doing another 10, this is repeated till all your sets are done.
Now in general rep ranges are split into high reps and low reps. High reps are done more to increase muscular hypertrophy (this is just a fancy word for muscle growth or increasing the size of your muscle) and low reps are done more to increase strength (this is not a fancy word).
It goes without saying that to build muscle you need to be eating a surplus of calories but how you train is equally important. Studies have found that the best rep range to build more muscle is roughly 8-12 reps per set with 30-60 second breaks in between sets. Though that’s not to say that regardless of weight you should just stop at 10 reps! The weight should be heavy enough that you just about reach the number of reps you want in that range, without completely burning yourself out, so you can still get all your reps in the sets to follow. It’s been shown that anything over 15 reps is more training muscle endurance and can have little to no effect on increasing the size of your muscles.
Throughout your time at the gym you might find you hit a plateau or cant get past a certain weight. At times like this strength training can be really useful to get you out of that slump. A typical strength rep range could be anywhere between 1-5 reps per set. Of course if you’re doing less reps you should be pushing heavier weight to keep the intensity up, while making sure you’re doing enough sets to get in a good number of overall reps. For example a typical hypertrophy workout might have you squatting 40kg for 3 sets of 8 reps (24 reps in total). Where as a strength day might have you squatting 60kg for 5 sets of 5 reps (25 reps in total) so the reps are pretty similar, the only change is the intensity and weight used.
Though both training methods have their own pros and cons, they can both be used together effectively to achieve the body you want over time so always try mix it up as you need.
Keep checking back for new posts and content!