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Hypertrophy Rep Range?

“What is the best rep range for hypertrophy?”

This question gets asked all the time. I know that if you crack open any personal training manual you will probably see a nice little chart that gives rep ranges and what they specifically target. Depending on the book you are reading, it usually looks something like this:

Strength: 1-5
Hypertrophy: 8-12
Endurance: 15+

So, are 8-12 reps per set the most optimal rep range for muscular growth?

In my opinion, there is no optimal rep range for hypertrophy. I believe that the two key elements needed for increased size are:

1)Overload- Increase the reps, sets, or weight you are doing. You need to progressively overload your body in order to spark an adaptation.
2)A hyper-caloric diet- If the calories aren’t there to facilitate growth, then you can’t grow.

Knowing that, I believe that no matter what rep range you are working in, you can see hypertrophy if you adhere to both of those rules. If I had to break up the rep ranges into specific qualities that they enhance, I would probably do so into two groups. A strength group (reps 1-6), which is more neurologically fatiguing; and, a metabolic or mechanical group (reps 8-15), which induce more metabolic/mechanical fatigue, due to their longer muscle time under tension.

Both the strength group and the metabolic group can be effective for increasing muscle hypertrophy and it would be wise to use explore both rep ranges in order to illicit the greatest adaptation possible. As well, both groups can kind of feed of each other. The strength work can help you increase the amount of weight you use during your metabolic work and the metabolic work can help you increase your work capacity and maintain a higher volume of strength work. If nothing else, rotating between the two rep ranges provides variety in your training program, and variety can be a huge stimulus to promote new growth. Using these rep ranges can be accomplished by either cycling and doing a period of higher reps (less intensity) and then a period or lower reps (more intensity). Or, you can opt to perform a concurrent training program which looks to enhance both qualities simultaneously, by training them either on the same day or on different days within the training week.

Hope that helps,

Patrick

Thanks for this post, P. These are the details that lose me sometimes. Thanks for laying it out so simply. :)

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