The Dilemma of Reps Versus Weight For Building Huge, Quality Muscle.
Many young bodybuilders and want to-be builders build struggle with the dilemma of which method builds huge, quality muscle.
Is it more reps with lighter weights or is it heavier weights with fewer reps?
Well the simple answer is a bit of both!
Let's take the 2 methods to the extreme so you can better understand what I mean.
Can as much weight as you can handle for 1 rep build you huge quality muscle – No!
Can a light weight for as many reps as you can manage build you huge quality muscle- again No!
Both methods over time will definitely build muscle, but you want to build huge, quality muscle in as short a time frame as possible – right!
Take 2 athletes as an example – a long distance runner and a shot putter.
The long distance runner is the equivalent of the low weight high rep method which will build thin lean muscle and the shot putter is the equivalent of the maximum weight 1 rep method which will build strength. You want to have the equivalent of the 100m – 400m sprinter. Fast, explosive & powerful but at the same time do enough 'work' to make your muscles tired and fatigued, break down and repair – bigger, thicker, stronger. When is the last time you saw a puny 100m – 400m sprinter?
So what is the optimum rep range?
The ideal range is between 6 – 10 reps per set. Higher reps are OK for warm up only.
Once the muscle group which you are working is warm, go straight in to as much weight as you can handle for 10 good quality reps. If your technique starts to falter before rep number 7 then you are using too much weight for that set.
Then increase the weight and do 8 reps for the next set. Increase the weight again for the next set and do 6 reps. If you are doing a 4 set routine add a little more weight and try for another 6 good reps. 4 sets is all that should be needed for any particular exercise.
To gauge your weights correctly you should be aiming for a 100% effort and determination to finish the set on the last 2 reps. If you are unable to squeeze those last 2 reps no matter how hard you try, the weight is too heavy for that set. Likewise, if you are able to finish the set and those last 2 reps do not require 100% effort and determination, the weight is too light for that set.
Only go lower than 6 reps if you are working on strength building as apposed to muscle building or once in a while work up to 1 rep to test any strength gains you have achieved.