How Many Reps and Sets To Build Muscle
By Shawn LeBrun
One of the most asked questions I get while training others is how many reps and sets of an exercise are needed to achieve lean muscle growth, strength increase, and an overall improvement in body composition.
The desired repetition range for both men and women for just about all exercises is four to six repetitions for your last, heavy sets.
That doesn't include warm-ups or acclimation sets, just your last sets.
There is one and only one reason a muscle has for gaining lean muscle tissue and getting stronger....
....Progressively increased overload.
You need to progressively "force" the muscle into growing and getting stronger or it will not.
In order to increase overload, you need to increase resistance. In order to increase resistance, you need to increase the amount of weight, or work, you are doing.
Lower repetitions of an exercise will allow you to increase the overload to that muscle instantaneously. This forces the stimulation of new muscle fibers that will be recruited to handle the additional stresses that will be placed upon the muscle.
The repetition range for optimal muscle fiber stimulation will be between four and six repetitions for just about every heavy set of an exercise you do.
Low reps will not cause women to "bulk" up. Low reps will strengthen and "tone" your muscles quicker than higher reps.
Lighter weights and higher reps will basically keep you from making optimal gains. If you can do ten repetitions of an exercise, the weight is too light to achieve overload.