Rep ranges

Posted by Ben Simpkins on August 3, 2016

How many reps do you do? 3 sets of 10? That is the usual number people do when they start out because that’s all you need to do right? Lifting weights is probably the best thing you can do for yourself but should you be lifting that many times, is it heavy enough, should you be lifting more?

We are going to be explaining a little bit today about the different type of rep ranges that you can hit, what they are used for and how heavy you should be lifting based on your current strength levels, please be aware that you will need to improve the weight the longer your training continues and if you really want to progress with your training then look at using each rep range for 1 month and then start onto another the next, you will be surprised what a difference it makes to your overall goals.

1) Strength – Low reps, 1-5

This is where you lift as heavy as possible and try to place as much load onto the muscles for your desired repetition range. This workout is quite often ignored by women due to the believe of a bulky look which will come from lifting heavy but by lifting heavy you are activating more muscle fibres do to the strain that you are putting the body under and you can also burn more calories.

Weight wise you should be maxing out, if you can do more than 5 then it isn’t heavy enough, the goal here is to fail, rep 2 should be tough and then go from there!

2)Hypertrophy aka size – mid reps 6-12

This rep range is usually where most people start and most men will work towards to increase muscular gain, but this range seems to offer a little of everything as you usually lift heavyish and you are doing a longer rep range, so it does help with your fitness, it will enable you to build strength and it also allows you to build muscle.

This allows the muscle growth as you are lifting a heavy enough load for a longer period of time that it enables the correct response in the muscles to create the need for a new stronger bigger muscle, again though please do not fear, you will not end up looking like a bodybuilder if you use this rep range unless you want to train and work towards that, the average woman looking to lose some body fat and improve their figure will not achieve that look.

Weight wise you would be looking to hit 6 reps before it starts to burn and get tougher, you should be struggling by the time you get to 10 and if you can do 12 easily, bump up that weight.

Toning – high range 15+

This is usually the recommended amount to use with women as it means that you are not lifting heavy, you are completing multiple repetitions and it is a nice safe place for you to start. This range has many benefits but some of the main ones are the bodies ability to improve its cardiovascular endurance through lifting weights at this rep range, as you are not exerting too muscle energy with each rep it means you can do more and the body can use oxygen more to help the muscle fibres work for longer.
Weight wise you can use anything, body weight can work well for things like squats, lunge, step ups, press ups and pull ups. Ideally though when you get to 12 it should start to burn, you can carry on doing reps but you should know that it is working, if you are pushing out 30 reps with no issue then I would say it is too light, UNLESS that is what you are training for and you need to hit a higher rep range of 30+.

What range should I use?!

Bear in mind that these are just the basic ranges to help people understand where they should be lifting you can look at doing as many reps as you like, things like crossfit encourage anything from 20-100 reps in one go, you can lift any level of weight you desire for any length of time, but there must be progression in your programme. There is no point you hammering out 100 reps of squats for the rest of your life as you will see no benefit. Your programme should be progressive and challenging otherwise you will not get the results that you want, even if you are looking at maintaining your shape, you have to constantly keep pushing the body, even if it is lifting just 1kg heavier!

If you want to lift just 1 rep at a time, that is totally fine, note down the weight and try to beat it next time, if you want to work on doing 27 reps, again totally fine but lift a little heavier next time and mark down what you managed. If you are new to lifting then you could well be better off starting the hypertrophy range as you could most likely do with growing some new muscle tissue while improving your strength. If you already lift, why not take some time out to look at boosting your strength, as you have more than likely already used the other 2 rep ranges.

If you feel like you still need help deciding what to do or you would like to work with us so you don’t have to concern yourself about what rep ranges you should be doing just drop us an email on or use the contact form on the website and one of our personal trainers will be in touch to have a chat with you.

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