Is There an Optimal Rep Range?

Research can be somewhat inconsistent in determining the optimal rep range for strength and muscle development (1, 2, 3).  But it’s consistently shown that performing sets of less than 15 reps is superior to sets of more than 15 reps.

It’s also been clear in showing that it’s possible to build strength and without having to ‘go heavy.’ Sure, strength development is greater on lower rep schemes (ex: 3-5) compared to higher ones (ex: 9-12) but it’s still possible to build strength during ‘muscle building’ workouts.

Likewise, there’s substantial evidence that training relatively close to failure with moderate-to-heavy loads (6-12 reps) is superior for building strength and muscle in both trained and untrained individuals.

“For loading (strength), it is recommended that loads corresponding to 1-12RM be used in periodized fashion with emphasis on the 6-12RM zone using 1-2min rest periods between sets at a moderate velocity.” American College of Sports Medicine, 2009

This is one of the reason’s I don’t recommend ‘maxing out’ at low (1-3) rep ranges…especially for the inexperienced.


Why take the risk, when the result is the same (1, 2) with a weight you can handle?

The key to building strength and muscle is ‘progression.’

As long as you’re consistently making incremental improvements in the weight room, you will build strength. Whether it’s 4 reps or 8.

And as long as your form, tempo and rest is on point, you will build muscle.  Whether it’s 8 reps or 12.

Stay Lean!

Coach Mike


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