How many reps per set is best for older men
When it comes to us older lifters there really is only two things that separates us from younger lifters. One we have had more time to develop chronic injuries that can hamper our training and two as a whole we require a little bit more time for recovery.
We are going to keep these points in mind as we go through our discussion today on muscle growth and the best number of reps we should do per set in order to maximize potential muscle size.
Traditionally rep ranges get broken into three groups 1 to 5 reps for strength. Next is the hypertrophy or muscle growth group with a range of 6 to 12 reps and it is this group that is in question.
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I used an article by Greg Nuckols as a reference in which he reviewed all the current studies on these rep ranges, with regards muscle hypertrophy and in it he extends the size of this group to 15 reps. Leaving the final group of 15 to 20 or more reps for developing muscular endurance.
In order for these groups to be compared equally you need to have equal intensity. Which you would accomplish by training to very close to failure.
The reason there is even a question as to what is the best rep range to build muscle, is that it is harder to quantify. Building muscular endurance and strength are performance goals and are easy to measure based on results. Muscle size on the other had is a more visual goal.
When you look at all the studies done on rep ranges what you end up finding is that when it comes to muscle growth as long as you equate volume and intensity the rep range doesn’t really matter much.
There are a lot of practical applications we need to look at when deciding which rep range is the right one we should be working in, including our muscle fibre type.
The biggest advantage to high rep training is that you are using lighter weight reducing the risk of injury and making it easier to perform your reps with good form. This is how I start out most of my clients with slightly higher reps to give them time to get used to the movements and perfect their form.
One of the biggest disadvantages to high rep training is that you can become aerobically fatigued before we fully fatigue all our different muscle fibres. Your muscles will start to get sore and it gets hard to complete the reps.
In order for these 3 groups to be viewed evenly you must be able to train close to muscular failure. One last advantage to having good muscular endurance is that sometimes it is that endurance that helps you push through the last rep when training heavier.
Next we have the one to five rep range. One of the biggest advantages when it comes to lower rep training is we are always working with a heavy enough load to create enough mechanical tension, resulting in muscle growth. But muscle growth doesn’t just come from heavy weights it needs to be equated with volume as volume is the major driver of hypertrophy. And for many their central nervous systems start to fatigue before they have gotten in enough volume to maximize hypertrophy.
Heavy rep training also tends to be hard on our joints especially if we have a long term injury we are dealing with. One last advantage to heavy low rep training is it gets us used to moving heavy weight and how that weight feels.
This kind of puts the 6 to 15 reps at the top of the list, but there is one more consideration. Predominant muscle fibre type, fast twitch muscle fibre tend to respond better to low rep heavy weight training. Where as slow twitch fibres tend to respond better to higher rep training. Most of us have a fairly even mix of muscle fibre types overall and will benefit from mixing up our rep ranges.
One way we can do this is through concurrent periodization. And for us older guys this will also give us more recovery time from the heavy low rep training to spare are joints and it increases our overall weekly training volume. If your full body training,then what you would do is have one day a week as your heavy day. Your second training day would be your medium rep day and finally your third training day would be high rep.
What I do with my clients and myself is I break up the rep ranges a little differently with 5 to 10 reps being my low rep phase, 10 to 15 reps the middle and 15 to 20 being the high rep block.