Perfect Rep Range to Build Muscle Mass

"Reps or repetitions are the most basic elements of a workout. Moderate/Heavy Weights for High Reps is the best method to elicit muscle hypertrophy".

In this article you will discover: 

I will also tell you My Top 3 Tips to blast each repetition!

Muscle Growth? It all starts with the Perfect Rep

Many bodybuilders spend lot of time on the latest theories of muscle building or researching which supplement stacks work. But they fail to make the best use of the most fundamental aspect of an effective workout: The Rep or repetition itself.

Correctly performed reps work like magic. They make the entire set and hence the entire workout super-effective.

But What makes reps so Important?

Because Reps are the most fundamental aspect of muscle growth.

Everything else, including sets, rest intervals and the workout itself depend on how many reps you do and how you do each rep.

Do high reps and your load automatically comes down, perform low reps and you need very heavy loads to fatigue.

So reps are the foundation of any muscle building program and if done correctly they create muscle growth, else workout is wasted.


Because Inefficient rep = inefficient set = inefficient workout.

In other words: Crappy Reps = Stinky Workout.

And since we are talking about serious muscle gains, rep range is serious business!

Since reps are so important...

What is the best rep range for Building Muscle?

The Perfect Rep range for muscle bulk and hypertrophy is
6 to 12 repetitions per set with upper body performing best between 6-9 reps and lower body at higher 8-12 reps per set.

A fast recap of intensity principle: As you know muscle hypertrophy depends on training intensity. And to build muscle mass you need to train in the range of 65 to 85% of your one rep maximum.

And guess how many reps you can do to achieve this intensity? its 6 to 12 reps.

So you need to do at least 6 full repetitions and no more than 12 full repetitions for maximum growth. If you can do more than 12 reps then training intensity is not optimal for muscle hypertrophy.

To Summarize: For Maximum Muscle Growth

  • Make sure that you select a weight which allows to fail each set in the range of 6 to 12 reps. Less than 6 leads to strength gains and more than 12 means less intensity.

  • Take each set to momentary muscle failure when you cannot life another rep in proper form.

  • If you are able to do more than 12 reps, its time to add weight and ensure you stay in 6 to 12 rep range for maximum hypertrophy.

A Word on The Repetition Continuum for muscle and strength: 

You can do an exercises for any number of reps from 1 to 30 or even 50. But not all rep ranges create the same effect. Here are the three most common:

Low reps in the range of 1-5: Mostly strength gains, little muscle gains, builds muscle slowly. Employed best by Olympic Weightlifters to lift heavy.

Moderate Reps in the range of 6-12: Sweet spot for building muscle mass and strength. Best for Bodybuilding.

High reps in the range of 15 and above: Best for endurance training like marathon runners.

Why 6 to 12 Rep Range Work Like Crazy for Muscle Bulk and Hypertrophy

Because moderate rep training {6 to 12 reps}:

  • Causes maximum muscle damage
  • Releases highest amount of testosterone and growth hormones
  • Targets type IIB fast twitch fibers {max growth potential} and
  • Causes both sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy.

If you are a Hardgainer: You should start at lower end of 5-6 reps as you can train type IIB fibers with high intensity. Lifting heavy loads also help your brain as it feels not threat to high reps later on. 

So When you keep increasing reps with higher loads, it increases the time under tension which is the latest research finding and recommendation for effective muscle stimulation.

Best of both the worlds.

P.S.: I have found best results when training in this range. My free 6 week program takes full advantage of the rep scheme of muscle building to help you build bigger and stronger muscles in just 6 weeks. Download it now.

How to Make each rep count with perfect rep speed or tempo

Do you want to double your muscle gains at each rep?

Then perform each rep in controlled fashion with 2040 tempo.

It means lift weight for 2 seconds, small squeeze at the top of range and lower slowly in 4 seconds.

When you lower the weight {eccentrics} you cause more muscle damage than lifting alone {concentric}.

It has been scientifically proven and it also explains why eccentric training cause more soreness {like running downhill}.

Bottom line: Perform each rep in controlled fashion with 2 seconds up and 4 seconds down. This makes the best use of time under tension concept in muscle hypertrophy.

P.S. Its harder to follow the above rep speed and you might have to use less weight than before. But remember you are not training for explosive sports, you are training for muscle mass.

Lets not get ego into lifting, your results will be enough to silence critics. No Rocky style but slow controlled bodybuilding!

When to perform high reps and low reps for hypertrophy

Although the above rep scheme is perfect for muscle hypertrophy there are times when both low reps and high reps training can blast muscles too.

A. Use High Reps

High Reps training in the higher range of more than 12 or even 20 reps works very good for exercises like squats, deadlifts, triceps, calf raises and abdominal training.

Why? Because these muscle have good amount of slow twitch fibers which respond best to higher reps.

B. Using low reps

Low rep training builds excellent neural reserve and allows you to lift heavier for reps.

I have used low rep training {1-3 reps} for 1-2 weeks every 6 to 8 weeks as low reps build type IIB fibers even more and trains the brain to lift heavier loads.

And after every week of low rep training, my strength have improved when I get back to hypertrophy training.

Try them once every 6 to 8 weeks and enjoy awesome gains.

Should I add more weight on the bar or progress on reps?

If you are training with adequate intensity {70 to 85%}, forget load, just chase more reps. Get personal records on big moves through 6 weeks.

You can add more load when you reach the high rep range of 12 reps and above. Until then work those reps for muscle bulk.

Does science back up the rep range

Yes. There are both scientific and in the gym evidences to prove that 6 to 12 is the optimal bodybuilding repetition zone. Training in the 1-5 zone has shown excellent strength gains but minimal muscle gains. Training higher reps than 15 builds endurance which is not the goal of muscle training.

How Creatine helps you Lift More

The best way to rep training is to go beyond your pain threshold and try to do more reps. This calls for intensity and once you develop it, you will build muscle mass faster.

Creatinine Monohydrate is the ONLY proven supplement that helps you lift more.

How does it work?

It does this by increasing the level of creatine phosphate which is the stored form of energy in your muscles.

The more creatine, the more you can lift, increasing your strength gains. Read more about How to use creating monohydrate for muscle and strength gains.

The Last Few Reps...Key to Muscle Growth

There is a lot of talk about training to failure not being necessary for muscle growth. Many coaches mock at bodybuilders who recommend training to failure.

They recommend instead to stop short of last 1-2 reps, keep 1-2 reps in the tank they say.

But real growth happens in the last few reps.

During the last few reps of your set, fatigue sets in as motor units stop firing.

At this point, more motor units join in. During the last few reps, almost all motor units fire and hence almost all muscle fibers are firing. This results in maximal tension.

So the last few reps generate maximum tension, and tension as you know is the key to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy. This simply means Bigger Muscles.

So get that extra rep or two tiger! But only if you can do them with proper form.

Remember that last rep counts.

My Secret tips for Reps, Sets and Awesome Workouts

Here are the 3 best tips for awesome reps, sets and workouts:

1. For best results you have to control weight in such a way that you should be able to stop at any point during the movement. Can you do that? Its difficult but it ensures you maintain constant muscle tension - the key to muscle growth. 

2. Count Reps Backwards: Select the rep range you are going to do and count the reps backwards. This gives the brain a target and keeps motivation high as all you need to do is focus on getting back to zero. 

Also I target 2 reps higher than my initial plan, it prepares my mind better. Try yourself. If you are supposed to lift 10 reps, make a mental note to do 12 reps, suddenly 10 reps are possible. It works because brain never overrides your voluntary commands, within limits of course.

3. Motivate yourself with positive self talk all through the set and workout. Repeat to yourself - I can do it! I can do it! over and over. you can also say one more rep, just one more rep.

Final Word: My friend, muscle building is about doing the small things right and doing each rep perfectly is the most important step.

Remember not many muscle builders get the reps right, but not many have the body of their dreams either!

Next Step:
 Reps or repetitions are only ONE aspect of training variables, although the most important. Other variables like workout planning, nutrition planning and supplementation together help you design your complete program.

You can Download my free 6 week muscle building Program or use Vince Delmonte’s 26 week Muscle Building Program which helped him gain 41 pounds of muscle mass in 24 weeks. Check it out. 

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