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Rep ranges for resistance training – an introduction

If you are new to resistance training reps, sets and how much resistance to use might all be a bit confusing. I will explain the 4 most commonly referred to types of strength to you and how these relate to rep ranges and load.

As a quick into it’s important to mention that there are different types of muscle fibres in our body. We have slow-twitch fibres (type 1), which are predominantly used for low resistance over a long period of time (i.e.: postural muscles). We also have fast-twitch fibres, these can be categorised as type 2a and type 2b. Type 2a fibres can produce more force than type 1 but not as much as type 2b, which produce the maximum amount of force but tire very quickly.

You can probably already see that your load and rep range will determine, which muscle fibres are recruited.

The strength training continuum

When performing resistance training there are 4 components to consider: reps, sets, load and rest. Tempo is another component, but we won’t touch upon this in this particular blogpost.

Strength

If you are working on the strength side of the continuum you are looking at a rep range of 1-6. As your rep range is quite low your resistance should be high (>80% of your 1RM). Your rest should be at a minimum of 120 seconds between sets.

Power

If you are chasing a power goal then you should be aiming for 1-4 reps at >80% of your 1RM, with a minimum rest of 120 seconds between sets. This might seem very similar to ‘strength’ there is a small difference though. If you wanted to gain strength without increasing bodyweight you would want to lean towards power, if you want to increase strength allowing for an increase in bodyweight you’d want to go for the higher rep range.

Hypertrophy

This is what most beginners aim for, as this rep range is a good starting point to increase overall muscle size. Here you want to be in a 8-15 rep range and your load can be anywhere between 20-80% of your 1RM. My recommendation would be to go for the sweet spot of 10-12 reps here. Rest periods can also be adjusted, 30-120 seconds.

Endurance

If you are looking to increase your muscular endurance you want to opt for higher rep ranges and lighter weight. For reps I would recommend going for 10 + with your load being smaller than 20% of your 1RM.

Of course what rep range you choose will depend on your personal goals and experience level. There is no one size fits all. If you would like to get the maximum out of your training by combining it with nutrition get in touch.

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