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Ryan Hughes
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ASK THE PRO TRAINER

"How Important Is The Number Of Reps
I perform in my workouts?"

Ask The Pro Trainer: How Important Is The Number Of Reps I Do?

I'm a trainer of celebrities and VIPs, an IFBB Men's Physique Pro, and a fitness advocate. I'd like to help you reach your goals by answering your tough questions!

Q
I've heard numerous arguments about rep ranges and I'm not sure what to believe. When it comes to resistance training, how important are reps?

When you enter the gym, leave your counting at the door. Tracking reps just leads to confusion:

"Is it low reps for mass and high reps to drop fat? Is it the other way around? Perhaps moderate reps are best for overall performance."

"What counts as a high vs. low rep? What one person considers 12 reps at high weight could be another's warm-up."

And so on. We've all heard numerous "rep-range" arguments, so let's sort through the bro science and take a look on what's really the best choice.

First off: The whole "low reps for mass, high reps for cutting" is a myth. There's no rep range that can make up for a lack of intensity, so train without the constraints a set number may place on you. Follow my three resistance tips to help focus on what's really important when you enter the gym—gaining mass and cutting fat.

1
Train with Intensity

Regardless of your fitness goals, push yourself in both weight and volume. While it might seem simple, intensity is actually a hard-to-grasp concept. Believe it or not, most people haven't taken their training to that next level. Break out of your comfort zone and change your mental approach to resistance. Here's my simple challenge to you: Keep the weight; change the mindset. Pick any compound exercise—squat, bench press, deadlift—and set the weight you can typically do for 10-12 reps. Now, instead of approaching that weight with the idea of doing 12 squats, set a rep range beyond what you can do in one set without pausing.

"Regardless of your fitness goals, push yourself in both weight and volume."

Can you typically bench 225 pounds for 10-12 reps? Load the bar with 225 pounds and set a bold goal, say 75 reps total. While you'll likely have to pause to reach your goal, you've permanently altered your mindset. You've gone from expecting to complete a comfortable 10 reps to thinking, "I have 75 total reps to attain, and I want to accomplish my goal as quickly as possible, so I'm going to get in as many reps as possible before pausing." You'll be surprised what you can motivate yourself to do.

2
Focus on Breaking Down Muscle, Not Counting Reps

Don't bother crunching the numbers. Make the breakdown of muscle tissue, not the number of reps, your primary goal. You can break down muscle tissue in more than just one way. Try to alternate your training between volume, speed, and resistance. Use these various training techniques and aim to overload the targeting muscle group instead of focusing on a number.

Incline Dumbbell Flyes

Here's a sample workout which displays a combination of volume, speed, and resistance training:

Sample Blast Training Workout
Triset
Increase weight with each set.
Use a moderate weight.
Increase weight with each set.
Use a moderate weight.
Increase weight with each set.
Use moderate weight.



3
Push To Failure

Finally, incorporate sets to failure in every workout. Training to complete exhaustion ensures that you're both training with intensity and breaking down muscle tissue in the process. Assuming your nutrition and supplementation are in check, this will only produce positive results.


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About The Author

Ryan Hughes was one of the first men to qualify as an IFBB Physique Pro. He works as a personal trainer and fitness model in New York City

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KingsFitness

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KingsFitness

Not sure if i agree on this article. Some good points.
Focus on the movement and the muscle being exercised. slow and steady on your reps.

Sep 16, 2013 5:17pm | report
 
JABE00

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JABE00

whatever works.
Might works for some and not others.

Sep 16, 2013 6:39pm | report
 
brycedietze

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brycedietze

Isnt this What CT Fletcher has been preaching for the last 6 months? Youtube him and been inspired.

Sep 16, 2013 7:15pm | report
 
rick72000

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rick72000

true story

Sep 17, 2013 2:13pm | report
skeader

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skeader

CT is the man, I know people who have to stick to a rep range because they believe that the certain rep ranges matter. When really they dont, "just go to the gym work your *** off and earn it" -words from the man CT himself

Sep 18, 2013 6:23am | report
JerseyTony

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JerseyTony

CT's pull-up and dead lift video is what I watch before I even step into a gym.

Sep 18, 2013 8:26am | report
gdirte82

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gdirte82

IT'S STILL YO MOTHAF*CKIN SET!!! That man is legend.

Sep 18, 2013 10:03am | report
phil2dz

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phil2dz

Fletcher"s Method is Rep pyramid. From 50 reps - 15. I have tried his should workout routine and my shoulders was sore for days in the contrary will that help me develop mass... not sure even with as much protein as possible. I think picking up a weight that will not make you call for help definitely develops muscle and strength.

Sep 19, 2013 6:02am | report
EliAgnew

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EliAgnew

This is a great article! People focus WAYYYYY too much on their rep range and don't focus on what is important which is actually feeling your muscles break down throughout a workout

Article Rated:
Sep 16, 2013 7:43pm | report
 
Saltus

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Saltus

I go to failure every set but the warm-up.

Sep 16, 2013 9:51pm | report
 
phil2dz

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phil2dz

thumbs up...

Sep 19, 2013 6:08am | report
Mary86

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Mary86

You can see it in their face when somebody is training with intensity or not and it's funny how so many people never reach that point, or if they do it's for maybe 2-3 reps and they call it quits...INTENSITY = RESISTANCE x DETERMINATION!

Sep 16, 2013 10:15pm | report
 
VersusMyself

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VersusMyself

"When you enter the gym, leave your counting at the door. Tracking reps just leads to confusion"
..
But then you say to count reps - " Load the bar with 225 pounds and set a bold goal, say 75 reps total"

.. Am I missing something Here? *scratches head*

Sep 16, 2013 11:15pm | report
 
samerym

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samerym

You may be missing the entire article. Let me rephrase what he said: people go into the gym and are told to do, for example, 10 reps, but they have no idea how much weight to use and what it should FEEL like. So if they're told to do 5 reps, they'll do them with the same 10-rep weight, which they can probably lift 15 times too.

This is the whole point of this: use a weight that will cause you to fail at that rep range, and count the reps so you can beat your number and progress.

I know you've seen those people, they make up 70 percent of the membership of every gym in the world.

Sep 17, 2013 6:59am | report
spirokappa

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spirokappa

samerym, I don't think there are many of us that understood what you understood. anyway, counting is not optional and this goes for beginners and veterans. veterans know how to play with weights while newbies can only get better through trial and error

Sep 17, 2013 7:58am | report
scottp75

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scottp75

Versus, I was going to comment the same thing until I finished reading. I think it was somewhat poor wording of the article, more than conflicting advice.

Sep 17, 2013 8:10am | report
ASTRONOMICAL

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ASTRONOMICAL

I think he chose an unattainable number because it will drive you to lift faster and more explosively to try and get them in. IOW, speedwork. Who knows. Mental games. A lot of people countdown and this may help you to stop that. If you're aiming for twelve reps and you hit ten thinking "just two more" it'll not help you to get further than those two. Absent such thoughts, you may just push further. Anyone who thinks that your thoughts don't factor in to your performance is just full of ****.

Sep 17, 2013 10:00pm | report
jtortorich

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jtortorich

I like the article.. It seems some people are getting caught up in the technicalities here. You really cant show an example of how your mindset should be. I think someone mentioned this above, YouTube ctfletcher.. He is a little hardcore, you don't have to be yelling and stuff but that's the mindset you should have. When someone asks "How many reps are you gonna do?" You should be thinking " who the hell knows, might be 50, might be 5". But the key is to go until you reach failure.

Sep 16, 2013 11:56pm | report
 
TrvBickle

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TrvBickle

those that train with focus, determination and willingness to drive themself into a state of pain are usually those that see results. Train with a big "heart" and the rest of the muscles in the body will follow suit. I think that is what the article is trying to get across.

Sep 17, 2013 1:20am | report
 
Themissred

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Themissred

Was just reading this article and comments and want to say that your comment makes an excellent quote! Well put!

Jul 28, 2014 12:45pm | report
DavidZiegler

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DavidZiegler

I will most certainly take this advice into the gym!!! Thank you Ryan, this is most helpful!

zieglermonster.com

Sep 17, 2013 1:35am | report
 
Jmshotts

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Jmshotts

Great article. Technique and how each exercise affects the muscles is more important than the number of reps in each set.

Sep 17, 2013 6:15am | report
 
RobertTKahn

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RobertTKahn

go to failure every time, over training is good...spread the word. -Mike Rashid Youtube Mike Rashid Over training chest, and learn something.

Sep 17, 2013 6:53am | report
 
Old-Time-Lifter

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Old-Time-Lifter

I have to laugh, he basically says forget reps and then proceeds to give you rep targets in the movements suggested.

Sep 17, 2013 7:12am | report
 
extremedrummer87

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extremedrummer87

I agree that intensity is No. 1. And No. 2 is important. However, I think range of motion and controlling the weight are far more important principles than going to failure.

Sep 17, 2013 7:14am | report
 
Showing 1 - 25 of 58 Comments

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