HIT Training Manual
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How Many Reps
How many reps should I do to build muscle?
Q. I want to add size! But I'm confused. I see some people doing only 1 or 2 reps per set and others doing as many as 15 or even 20. What's the best rep range to promote muscle growth?
A. Like so many other aspects of bodybuilding, the answer all depends on your body. While heavy weights for low reps is generally regarded as the way to spurt muscle growth, 1 or 2 repetitions is simply not enough to enhance any stimulation in your muscle tissue. That's like making a sandwich and taking only a bite or two out of it, then expecting it to fill you up. In reality, it'll have little effect on you. The guys you see bench-pressing or squatting for one single rep are either a) calculating their maximum strengths or b) just don't know any better. On the other hand, 20 reps may simply be too many. Light weight and high reps is usually the way to tone up, not bulk up. I've found that in some cases leg training may be the exception to this rule; in fact, legs often respond well to periodic high rep workouts. A great range for performing reps in a set is somewhere between 8 and 12. However, in order to initiate considerable growth, it is vitally important to shock your muscles with variation. Do not remain at a set number of reps for each set. Over time, you should be increasing the resistance to your muscles, packing on both the size and strength. And, last but not least, all of your sets should include one element: intensity. It is the most important ingredient to any repetition you do, no matter what the exercise is or what body part you're working.
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