3 Different Rep Ranges for Strength, Hypertrophy & Endurance
There are three rep ranges that correspond to the three biomotor capacities: strength, muscle building, and endurance:
- Strength training entails lifting heavy loads for low reps. Specifically, the 1-5 rep range is best for gaining strength. Powerlifters tend to lift predominately in the 1-3 rep range (i.e. heavy singles, doubles and triples) for their main lifts.
- Hypertrophy training, or training to build muscle, entails lifting moderate loads for moderate reps. Often, 8-12 reps is cited as the best rep range for hypertrophy. However, I contest that the 6-15 rep range is more inclusive and accurate.
- Endurance training entails lifting light loads for high reps. Specifically, doing more than 15 repsper set trains muscular endurance. Doing such high repetitions places trains the muscle fibers that are resistant to fatigue under stress. In other words, you get better at doing more reps of a certain weight, as opposed to getting better at lifting a heavier weight within a lower rep range.
How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?
How long should you rest between sets? It depends largely on what type of training you’re doing? Here are the basic guidelines:
- Two to four minutes of rest between sets is recommended for strength training.
- One to two minutes of rest between sets is recommended for hypertrophy training.
- Thirty seconds to one minute of rest between sets is recommended for endurance training.
Consider Intensity, Volume & Frequency
The number of reps and sets in your workouts should take intensity, volume and frequency into consideration.
- Intensity (or load intensity) technically refers to the percentage of your one-rep max weight used on a set for any given exercise. Practically, though, you can think of intensity as the weight’s “heaviness” (i.e. how heavy it feels, not the actual weight in lbs). High intensity workouts always involve low reps, and usually involve relatively few sets. Low intensity routines are the opposite.
- Volume refers to the total work (reps x sets) done in a particular workout session. High volume routines typically involve moderate to high reps and more sets per workout. Low volume routines are the opposite.
- Frequency refers to how often you train a particular muscle group or exercise, per week. A high frequency routine can have lower reps and fewer sets and per workout if it involves mostly high intensity training; or it can have higher reps and more sets if the intensity is moderate to low. Low frequency routines are the opposite.
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