High Reps vs. Low Reps for Bodybuilding

Many bodybuilders and athletes usually get stuck right in middle ground training where they don’t gain the muscle size or strength they desire. The reason why they stop making progress is that they actually stop coercing their body to adjust. When a person has been training long enough, the body grows “cleverer” and he/she cannot simply compel it to do anything further.

Continuing to push and grunt without any real strategy except “hard work” will only get a person injured or beat-up. The so-called “middle ground training” devours sound progress faster than most other things, namely training with either similar set or rep arrangement and same intensity. Defaulting to exercising in the 8, 10, or 12 rep range will result in your growth only wallowing in no-gains’ land.

High reps help you to lose fat and “tone” a muscle more. On the contrary, low reps can help to both build muscle and increase strength.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: The Strength Continuum

Actually, the Strength Continuum refers to a framework whereby strength and endurance do exist on a range or scale which defines the link between eight, reps, and workout result. Strength is symbolized by the 1 repetition maximum (1RM). This is the optimal that a person can lift for a single rep, and endurance refers to the ability to apply a lower force repetitively over time.

pro and cons to high and low reps

While low repetitions with heavy weight boost strength, high repetitions with light weight boost stamina. This theory states that as repetitions increase, a slow switch from strength to endurance occurs.

High Reps vs. Low Reps for Strength

Low reps with heavy sets vs. high reps with light weight are recommended for optimal strength increases, although high reps can still bring about gains in strength also.

For maximum strength gains, relatively heavier weights should be lifted for low reps as this is actually in agreement with the way Powerlifters train for contest to help them increase neuromuscular adaptation (effectiveness of the brain to regulate the muscles). A person can become stronger due to either an increase in muscle size, or an upswing in neuromuscular adaptation.

High Reps vs. Low Reps for Fat Loss

It is believed in some quarters that heavy weights are merely suitable for developing muscle. But then, what of fat loss; can lifting heavier weights help a person to torch additional fat – or instead turn him into the hulk? The general belief is that high reps get rid of fat – magically. However, it has been proven that although high reps with light weight to fatigue might create a muscular reaction, it does not essentially eradicate fat better than low reps combined with heavy weight. It is the intensity of the workout that helps burn fat.

High Reps vs. Low Reps for Building Muscle

Contrary to the common misconception, lifting heavier weights does not automatically help in building muscle. In reality, it is how much one eats combined with the total volume and intensity of the training. It is not necessarily the weight/reps that will make the difference but rather how the workout becomes more challenging over time. If you consume comparatively less calories than you burn, certainly you can lift super heavy weight and most probably not gain even one ounce of muscle mass.


It is advisable to use both high and low reps in your workout program if you are looking or build muscle, lose fat, or just enhance your overall physical fitness. Depending on the training outcome, some rep ranges are more optimal than others. According to fitness gurus, the best rep ranges to bring about the most radical changes in body composition for fat loss and muscle building, in terms of time-efficiency, safety and overall effectiveness possibly happen within the 6-12 rep range. Your specific goals will determine what ranges you should use.

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