What is the ideal rep range? Best options for hypertrophy, muscle growth, and strength – Inverse

Muscle growth

Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting coach Ivan Abadjiev was well known for pushing his lifters to the limit — and keeping their exercise variety low.

The team, which won 12 Olympic golds and 36 medals over a 33-year span, stuck to practicing the lifts in which they competed — snatch, and the clean and jerk. Lifts were as close to competition weight as they could, plus some squats, to push and maintain their leg strength.

Abadjiev’s strategy differed from his Soviet rivals, who broke lifts into components — the first part of the snatch, the clean, the jerk — perfected those movements, then combined them, and often did multiple repetitions. Asked once by a journalist why his lifters didn’t practice assistance work in a more Soviet fashion, Abadjiev paused a moment. Then he answered: “If you want to be a violinist, you don’t practice the piano.”

It’s a pithy comment that brings up questions about rep ranges (how many times, or repetitions, a weight gets lifted within a set). Reps create the relationship between the work we do in a set and what we want to achieve. Traditionally, low reps at high weight build strength, and higher reps with lower weights tack on size, but it can get hazy, and it’s worth asking what these differences in ranges mean. Is there an ideal rep range? Or does it depend on the goal? Let’s dive in.

Adaptation — Rep ranges, like most topics in lifting, can be explained by progressive overload. Lifters get stronger when they lift a bit more every week, which is done most efficiently on a program: a weeks-long, laid-out series of lifts, where poundages based on a lifter’s one-rep maximum get manipulated.

This manipulation of total weight in a week occurs through changes in intensity and volume. Lifters can either lift heavier weights or do more lifts — which is where reps come in. A lifter with a 550 lb. max squat may squat 5,000 lbs. in one week. Maybe 500 lbs. — 90 percent of their max — twice a day, five times a week, or 250 lbs. 20 times in one heavy day. Or any other number of combos. The way these poundages get divided up determines a lot of where a lifter ends up — and how they reach their goals.

When the weight is really heavy and reps are low, people still get big.Shutterstock

Different programs — Programs that prioritize volume have their advantages. Doing reps at low weights with more reps builds up muscles, and their endurance and avoids injuries. High reps also acclimatize lifters to the movement by greasing the groove: building up neural pathways. They also put on serious size. Consequently, bodybuilders — the biggest lifters — stick to high rep ranges.

Programs that go after, or hover around a one-rep max are on the opposite end …….

Source: https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/ideal-rep-ranges-hypertrophy-muscle-growth-and-strength

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