In this article we decided to help you decide which rep range you want to use whilst weight training in the gym. There are variety of different theories on what is the best or ultimate rep range for exercising, but it all depends on your objective from lifting weights. Some people use weight training to lose weight or gain muscles, others simply to exercise or enhance their muscle strength/endurance for other sport they play (such as football, swimming, triathlon, etc). We can breakdown training repetition approach into 3 different types: strength, hypotrophy and endurance, which would probably represent sprint, mid-distance and long-distance if taking running as a comparison. This would give you an idea on how an athlete would look like performing specific training. All long-distance runners are slim while sprint runners are quite muscular, this is due to specific training they perform in and outside the gym. Same here, if you train in astrength zone you will have different results to those who train in an endurance zone.
Generally there are two types of muscle fibers: Slow and Fast (it can be further divided into other types, IIa, IIx, IIb). There are many differences between the two in color, oxidation and hypotrophy characteristics. Slow muscle fibers are Type I, they are mostly used in endurance sport and activities such as long distance running, swimming, cycling. This fibers contract slowly and can hold on steady pace training without fatigues for prolonged period of twitch. On the opposite side, fast muscle fibers (Type II) are used for fast burst of strength and power sports and activities such as sprint running, powerlifting.
The table below will help you understand how different repetition range affects your muscle fibers, strength, endurance and hypotrophy.
You must understand that some muscle groups are unable to work in a certain rep range, for example it’s not practicable to train your arms in 1-2 repetition range. Selection of a repetition range would not only depend on the fitness objective and muscle group but also on the training phase, different training phases would require different rep range. Certain muscle groups have to be trained in a specific rep range to enable you to reach particular training objective. A triathlete to improve overall body strength would probably work in very high rep range, for instance performing leg extension exercise with a light weight for 60 seconds continuously. But a bodybuilder would perform the same exercise in a moderate-rep range between 6-12 with a much heavier weight load.
Some people use their ORM (one-rep max) weight to establish training load for their workout. Max strength is working with 100-90% of ORM, strength is 75-90%, hypotrophy is 60-75% and endurance is less than 60%. This means that if your bench press 1 ORM is 100kg, then you need to work with 75-90kg to further build your strength.
There should be a fine balance between training phases and repetition ranges in your training program. If your aim is to build strength whilst losing fat or building muscles then your ultimate rep range for most exercises would probably be between 6-12 repetitions. For the optimal results you would need to establish a balanced combination of low-rep high weight, moderate-rep and high-rep low weight training that will synergize your fitness performance. It is good idea to use progressive overload approach with low-rep to moderate-rep ranges with heavy weight for the big compound lifts, and moderate-rep to high-rep ranges for the smaller muscle groups.
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