Are High Reps For Endurance And Low Reps For Mass?

A conditioning specialist in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Science. His articles will help you!

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Are High Reps For Endurance And Low Reps For Mass?

I'm a senior in high school and for the longest time my coaches have told me that the more reps you do per set, the more definition you get. In other words, more reps means more endurance, and less reps mean more muscle gain, or mass. But just today I was talking to our new head coach, who used to be the weight training coach at some big university up north, and he told me different. He said that higher reps mean more mass and less reps are used strictly for gains in your max. So, now I'm kinda confused as what to do. Which is it? Any help or opinion you might have would be much appreciated.

Your new coach seems to be much closer to the truth than what you have been told previously. Somehow this theory of more reps is for definition and less reps for mass fallacy became promoted throughout many gyms and weightrooms. In reality, because muscle mass gains have more to do with the overall amount of work done, the individual performing more reps has more of a chance of gaining mass.

For those that would like to argue otherwise, yes, you can find those that become more "defined" (an inaccurate term for body fat loss) through higher reps because they burn a lot of calories. If they also keep the loads low enough they won't have a great ability to do anything than build some low forms of strength. The higher repetitions do work on strength-endurance, but I find there to be a more effective way of building strength-endurance and that is by incorporating many sets of low reps with short rest intervals. This way you maintain higher power outputs and still maintain strength-endurance capabilities.

Lower repetition ranges (usually 1-5) are more for building maximal strength and power. This is dependant upon the loads used by the individual. The reason that many will not see great size gains by using these repetition ranges is because they usually do not allow one to obtain the same volume of work, which is a key we already determined to adding size. However, there are some that will put on some size and many will put on a little of what we call functional muscle mass from using these repetition ranges. Functional in the fact that your gain in muscle size will correspond positively with strength gains.

The low rep brackets and ranges should be used by all people, but the amount of time spent with these different rep/set schemes is again dependant upon one's goals. I would say to listen to your new coach, he sounds a little more educated.

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Aug 24, 2012 11:55am | report
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Wouldn't somone who does low reps but for many sets do the same volume of work as a person who does a few sets of high reps? I have been doing low reps for as many as 6-7 sets, while supersetting oposing muscle groups, and doing a "rest pause" set on the last set for the last eight months and I have seen incredible gains in both strength and mass that I never saw with high reps. Around 25lbs of muscle and 60 lbs to my bench press from 215 to 275 to be exact. This was after being unable to reach 225 bench press after 6 months of high rep. I know that you said people that do low reps will make minimal gains in both mass and strength but what would you consider a small gain versus a large gain? Keep in mind I am a college freshman that works out 3-4 days a week for 2 hours at a time and in this time frame I get about 3-4 of these supersets in (6-8 exercises.)

Apr 7, 2013 9:10pm | report
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Sorry, I didnt hit notify me when users reply.

Apr 7, 2013 9:11pm | report
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