Higher reps for building muscle? No way. All conventional wisdom and general census is that lower reps with higher weights will result in muscle gain, strength and size increases, while higher reps lean and tone muscle. But to what extent is this true?While you might not build any weight doing 30 easy reps of 5 lbs weights for your bench press, higher reps can be very useful when it comes to increasing size.
The truth is that people aren’t all created equal. Some people find it easier to put on muscle mass while others don’t. Ever heard the term hard-gainer? Biology of the matter is that there are 2 main differences in the genetic make up of individuals that dictate their ability to gain muscle. So yes, your genes do have a role to play in your size. But you already knew that. What you didn’t know was that even if your genes shout out “You’re a skinny guy”, with the right type of training, diet and rest, you can overcome your body’s resistance to building muscle and actually gain muscle quite well.
What does this mean for the higher reps myth? Well Research has concluded that “hard-gainers” or that genetic group that does not stack on muscle easily responds very well to higher reps training than to the lower rep ranges. I, for one found that my body put on more muscle mass when I did 15 rep full body circuits than when I did the 5 rep circuits with much heavier weights.
Higher reps are not the enemy of a hard-gainer trying to gain muscle mass. In fact higher reps might be exactly what your routine needs and what it is lacking. In addition to this, you probably know that muscles react by growing to new challenging stimuli. Whether it maybe a need for greater endurance, greater speed, or greater strength. The muscle fibers will be stimulated to grow when pushed to their limits within any of these parameters.
In essence, for optimal results, it is best to get a range of all different work outs. High weights with low reps, or lower weights with higher reps. That way you can consistently stimulate all different types of muscle fibers to grow. Keep changing your work out routines every 4-6 weeks by changing the resistance, set or rep range, or even by switching between full body and split training. This will keep your muscles challenged and force them into constant adaptation and growth.
Do not simply focus on one weight training routine that one big guy in the gym told you works for him. Switch things around ensure that your muscles are challenged in all possible ways. Do not ignore the higher reps because you are afraid you will get leaner but instead incorporate higher reps into your work outs and observe the effect they too can have on your training.
As a side note however, do keep in mind that when using high rep ranges, continue to use weights that challenge you at that rep range. Though the dumbbells may be a lot lighter on a 15 rep work out than an 8 rep work out, make sure your muscles still find it difficult to complete the 15 reps. Increase the intensity and switch things up and you will surely gain muscle.