When it comes to working out, there are two main types of reps: high reps and low reps. High reps are when you do a lot of repetitions with a lighter weight, while low reps are when you do fewer repetitions with a heavier weight.
However, lifting weights is always a challenge. You lift and collapse into a heap on the floor afterward. You feel like quitting, that your muscles are about to give up on you. But you push through the pain, counting out those last few reps until you reach your goal.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we know that from this moment of discomfort comes the rewards of a better body and a healthier mind.
But what's the best way to get those rewards? Should you go for high reps with lighter weights or low reps with heavier weights?
Understanding the Strength Continuum
The strength continuum is a framework that can be used to understand and measure an individual's physical capabilities. The continuum ranges from Level 0, which represents complete immobility, to Level 5, which represents superhuman strength. Most people fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum, with the average person having the strength of a Level 2 or 3.
The strength continuum is not a static measure but a dynamic tool that can track an individual's progress over time. For example, someone working on increasing their strength may start at Level 2 and eventually move up to Level 3 or 4.
Similarly, someone dealing with an injury may temporarily drop down to Level 1 or even Level 0. The strength continuum is useful for tracking an individual's physical progress and seeing how their strength compares to others.
The key is understanding where you fall on the continuum and how that affects your training goals. There's no one-size-fits-all approach - it's about finding what works best for you and your goals.
For example, if your goal is to build muscle, you'll want to focus on the lower end of the continuum, using heavier weights and fewer reps. On the other hand, if your goal is to improve endurance, you'll want to focus on the higher end of the continuum, using lighter weights and more reps.
So if you're looking to get fit, don't just default to either high reps or low reps - instead, find your place on the strength continuum and work from there.
High Reps Vs. Low Reps for Strength
As any weightlifter knows, there are two main ways to build strength: high reps and low reps. High reps involve lifting a lighter weight for a higher number of repetitions, while low reps involve lifting a heavier weight for a lower number of repetitions. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.
High reps are great for building endurance and increasing the range of motion, but they don’t necessarily lead to strength increases. Also, since you are doing so many repetitions they can also be more taxing on the body and lead to injuries if not done properly.
Ultimately, the best approach is to mix both high reps and low reps into your workout routine to achieve the best results.
High Reps Vs. Low Reps for Building Muscle
To understand how best to build muscle, it's important to understand muscle physiology. Muscles are made up of individual fibers that contract when they receive a signal from the nervous system. You're damaging those muscle fibers when you lift weights, which signals the body to repair them. The process of repair results in the fibers getting bigger and stronger, which is how you build muscle.
Here's where the high reps vs. low reps debate come in. When you do a lot of repetitions with lighter weights (high reps), you're mostly working the muscles' endurance capacity. That's not necessarily bad - after all, muscular endurance is an important quality - but if your goal is to build size and strength, you're better off doing fewer reps with heavier weights (low reps).
That's because lifting heavier weights puts more strain on the muscles, which leads to greater muscle damage and, thus, greater gains in size and strength. So if your goal is to build muscle, low reps are usually the way. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, so be sure to talk to a qualified trainer or coach before making any major changes to your workout routine.
Low Reps With Heavier Weight
When it comes to working out, people often think that more is better. More reps, more weight, more sets. However, this isn't always the case. Sometimes doing less can actually give you better results.
For example, when lifting weights, doing low reps with a heavier weight is more effective than doing high reps with a lighter weight. This is because it allows you to build more strength and muscle.
So if you're looking to bulk up, don't be afraid to go heavy. Your body will thank you for it.
High Reps With Lighter Weight
Performing high reps with lighter weight is a great way to build muscle endurance and increase your overall strength. Although you may not feel like you're lifting very heavy, the constant tension on your muscles will help to tire them out and force them to adapt.
In addition, using lighter weights can help you maintain good form and avoid injury. As your muscles become more fatigued, they are more likely to lose their form and put themselves at risk for injury. You can avoid this problem and still get a great workout by working with a lighter weight.
How Many Reps is Too High?
When it comes to working out, how many reps are too high? The answer may surprise you. While no magic number of reps will guarantee results, performing more than 12 reps per set could lead to diminishing returns. That's because after 12 reps, your muscles start to fatigue, and you lose the ability to generate maximum force.
As a result, you'll see a decrease in the quality of your reps and a plateau in your strength gains. So if you're looking to build muscle and get stronger, aim for sets of 8-12 reps. Once you can perform 12 reps with ease, it's time to increase the weight and challenge your muscles even further.
Remember, quality is always more important than quantity when lifting weights.
1. High reps vs. low reps for weight loss: Which one is better?
High reps are great for burning calories, but low reps are better for building muscle. If you're trying to lose weight, you need to combine both methods. For example, you could do a few sets of high reps to get your heart rate up and then do a few low reps to build muscle. Or you could alternate between the two methods each day.
2. Low reps vs. high reps for mass: Which one is better?
Heavy weights will tax your muscles and force them to grow stronger. High reps are the way to go if you're more interested in building muscle endurance. You'll be able to lift lighter weights for extended periods, leading to bigger muscles.
3. High reps vs. low reps for strength: Which one is better?
As with so many things in life, the answer is that it depends. For beginners, high reps are often the best way to go. This allows them to build up their muscles slowly and avoid injuries. As they become more experienced, they can start focusing on low reps to push themselves and increase their strength.
4. What are high reps’ benefits?
When you do high reps, you're targeting your slow-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are responsible for endurance activities like long-distance running. Lastly, high reps help improve joint health.
The Bottom Line
High reps and low reps depend on individual goals and preferences. Both the reps have their benefits and results to prove muscle building, growth, strength, and endurance.
To choose what goes best for you, the information can be helpful enough to make a decision and develop a routine that works according to your purpose. The most important thing to remember is that fitness is the key.
- Schoenfeld, Brad J., et al. ‘Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men’. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, vol. 29, no. 10, Oct. 2015, pp. 2954–63. journals.lww.com, https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000000958.
- Whittal, Mitchel C., et al. ‘High Load With Lower Repetitions vs. Low Load With Higher Repetitions: The Impact on Asymmetry in Weight Distribution During Deadlifting’. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, vol. 2, 2020. Frontiers, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2020.560288.