How Many Reps to Build Muscle (COMMON MISTAKE)

When it comes to working out and building muscle, I need you to stop counting reps. In this video, I am going to explain why counting the number of reps you are doing, as well as your rep range goals, is counterintuitive to the gains that you are seeking. There is something that you should be doing instead that will help you to get the most out of every workout that you do.

By targeting a specific number of reps, you are setting yourself up for subpar results and lower quality repetitions. So, instead of thinking how many reps you are going to do to build muscle, I want you to think about generalities; in general I can pick up a weight that is heavy enough to fall in the 1-7 rep range. The next rep range requires a moderate weight that falls within 8-14. A lighter weight would have me looking for 15-30 repetitions. The last number of reps, above 30 reps, requires a super light weight.

Every single one of these ranges will build muscle. In the lowest rep range, the benefit that I get is that there is extremely high tension which means that I do not have to go to absolute failure. I can increase muscle growth thanks to that tension. As your rep range increases, failure is even more important as tension starts to go down.

Failure is defined as not being able to perform a rep of an exercise in good form. That means, if you were performing a curl; you are not doing what looks like a good morning in order to swing the weight up.

In terms of getting to a specific rep number, our body often self-corrects. If we achieve a difficult rep lower than the number goal, then we start to shortchange or cheat our next reps until we reach that last number. By doing this, you are leaving gains on the table. Instead of performing effective receptions throughout the entirety of the set, you are limiting the number of them that you are doing.

If I chose a weight that causes me to fail absolutely in the rep range that I am looking for, we know that the overload for growth is going to occur in the last 3 or so reps. However, when it comes to effective reps in these ranges, it doesn’t mean that the early reps can’t be effective too. In fact, these can be extremely effective if you a performing each rep with good intention to create a more solid mind-muscle-connection. By establishing a better mind-muscle-connection, you can better perform the later reps for overload. When you are trying to get better at performing an exercise, that connection between the brain and the muscle in order to better feel the muscles that you are working.

Not only that, but you will have a better feeling of what failure is and be able to utilize those last few reps to create the overload necessary for muscle growth. So, don’t think that the early reps are just throw away reps – use them to get better at the exercise so that you can better perform each repetition, especially as you get closer and closer to failure. This will make those last, effective reps, even more effective.

Again, it is extremely important to think about these rep ranges as generalities. Instead of focusing on a specific number, a mindset that will leave you with subpar results, you want to focus on the intention of each rep. When I head into my workouts, I don’t look for the reps that I am doing; I am looking to reach a range based on the weight I am choosing and taking it to failure.

I mentioned earlier that you can still build muscle in the rep range above 30 repetitions. With such light weight, the tension is extremely low as well. In this case, you need to incur a large amount of volume. With low intensity, volume is important to build muscle.

It doesn’t matter what rep range you choose to work towards, you can still build muscle. The important aspect of each one, however, is to make sure that you are putting in a high level of effort into each repetition. I’ve always said to stop counting reps, but make the reps count. With high intention comes the most muscle gains as you create a greater mind-muscle-connection with your earlier reps and a tension overload in the later reps of the range you are working within.

For a science-backed workout program that explains how to make each repetition effective to build ripped athletic muscle, make sure to head to the ATHLEAN-X website using the link below and find the program that is best suited to match your training goals.

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