If you were to ask a million bodybuilders/weight trainers, or read thousands of “muscle building” articles, or read almost every book ever written on the fastest way for natural trainers to gain weight fast ( quality weight of course), 99% of them will tell you that lower reps during sets, 10 reps or less, will build more muscle mass than any weight training program that requires you to use more reps.
This philosophy has been around for decades and has led to the undeniable truth that low reps are not the best way to build muscle without the use of anabolic steroids. If it were, why don’t we see millions more “muscle heads” walking around in everyday life? There are millions and millions of people who are very dedicated to their workouts, but most have nothing to show for it. Sure, they may get stronger and stronger, but they’re not getting bigger in size… and there’s a big difference between the two.
Contrary to what most think and say, the two are not the same.
Case in point: According to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, in a study titled “Muscular Adaptations to High- and Low-Intensity Resistance Exercise Combinations,” Japanese scientists had trainers separate into two different weight-lifting groups. :
1) A strength training group
2) A mixed training group
They had both go through their typical exercise routine:
*5 series per exercise / 3-5 repetitions per series / 3 minute rest between series
The change came in the mixed group. Once they were done, they went ahead and did 1 set of 25-30 reps 30 seconds immediately after they were done with the last set. The results were interesting, to say the least.
As reported, the mixed group not only continued to gain muscle mass, while the strength training group had a slight loss of muscle mass. In addition, the mixed training group gained about 5% more 1-rep max strength than the other group.
Now, it’s not like you should put all your faith in the philosophy of weight training in one study. But this just adds to all the real world evidence that clearly shows that if you’re looking for pure muscle building or weight gain…not necessarily pure power or strength, you should increase the number of reps you perform per set. Higher reps provide a ton of muscle-building factors that lower reps don’t, like increased time under tension, lactic acid buildup, increased blood pump, etc.
Keep all of this in mind the next time you’re tempted to only worry about how much you’re lifting instead of how many times.