A very common MYTH I see amongst beginners in the fitness industry is believing that high reps will get you to the highly desired “toned” look and that low reps will just make you “bulky”. Resulting in lots of people (usually women) staying away from heavy weight. There’s a lot that can be discussed on this, but for this blog, let’s just talk about how many reps you should do and we will address the other things in the next one. Most people don’t understand that your rep range really doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. What matters most is how much effort you are putting into these reps.
If your goal is to build muscle, which is necessary for most physique goals (toned, buff, shredded), the 2nd most important thing (1st being form) that you should worry about in the gym is how hard you are pushing yourself. Whether you are finishing a set of 2 reps or 22 reps, it doesn’t matter if in both sets you didn’t struggle with any of those reps.
In order for muscle to build, it must first be broken down. You are not going to be breaking muscle down off 10 easy reps that you did while talking to your gym crush the whole time. Instead, your gym crush should be scared to come over to you because of the faces you should be making while pushing those last few reps out.
If you are going for a set of 10. The first 5 might be decent. The next 2 should be slowing down. And then the last 2 should be really pushing your limit. If you are doing 10 reps, you should only be leaving about 1, maybe 2 reps in the tank while occasionally hitting failure. So, if you KNOW you can hit 8 reps of the bicep curl , go for 10 (with good form). So, we now understand what are reps should look like; but how many should you be going for according to your goals? There’s not really a direct answer, however, there are some studies that would suggest a generalized idea of rep ranges and what they are “best “ for.
If your goal is Strength (how much you can lift) that 3-5 reps range is typically going to be your sweet spot. If your goal is to build muscle/hypertrophy (how much you LOOK like you can lift), 6-12 rep range is your friend. If your goal is Endurance (how long you can lift for) 15-20 rep range will be right up your alley. For best results, dabble into all of these ranges at some point in your training sessions. Just make sure you are reaching close to failure in each set!