The theory behind this is that high reps cause you to burn fat and make a muscle more “toned”. While low reps will help you build muscle and get stronger.
I wish it was just this simple. High reps for fat loss and low reps for strength and muscle building? There are so many different things that come into play when to get lean or gain mass. Honestly rep ranges may be the last thing on the list.
We will talk about reasons why it is important to use both low and high rep ranges in a weight training program. We will also discuss how combining both will help you build muscle, lose fat, and just improve your overall physique and health. Finally, we will explain how doing this will allow you as much as possible out of the time you spend in the gym along the individual rep ranges that will allow you make the greatest change in body and strength.
Which is better? High reps or low reps?
Strength is normally defined by the 1 rep max. This would be the maximum weight that can be lifted for one repetition. Doing a lower amount of reps with heavier weight will increases strength. Doing a higher amount of reps with lighter weight increases endurance and stamina. As the amount of repetitions grow increase there will be a change from strength to endurance.
Below is a commonly used graph of the strength continuum.
You should also understand that there are different types of muscle fibers. High repetitions develop the type 1 muscle fibers, which is also known as slow twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are based on endurance and also take much longer to burn out. Low reps stimulate the type 2 muscle fibers, which are known as the fast twitch muscle fibers. These fibers are greater when it comes to power. These fibers burn out faster.
Which rep range is beneficial for strength?
For better results when it comes to increasing strength, doing a lower amount of reps with heavier weight is more beneficial that doing higher reps with a lighter amount of weight. High reps can also assist in increasing strength also. Research has shown that lifting heavier weight is more beneficial for strength gains. This is the reason why power lifters use this method when training for a competition. This method increases what is called neuromuscular adaptation. Neuromuscular adaptation is defined as the efficiency of the brain to control the muscles. You can get stronger as a result of increase in muscle size OR increase in neuromuscular adaptation.
Which Method Is Beneficial For Fat or Weight Loss
Many people have the misconception that heavy weights are only productive when trying to building muscle. The question is can lifting heavier help you burn more fat, or does it just help build muscle? Studies have actually shown that individuals who lift heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as those who did just cardio. The only difference was that the weight lost by the weight lifters was fat, but the individuals who did cardio not only lost fat but they lost muscle as well. One myth is that doing high reps will automatically cause you to lose fat. Even higher reps with a low amount of weight can create a response from your muscles, this doesn’t mean that it’s getting rid of fat.
It is not the number of repetitions that burns fat, but the intensity of the workout is the more important factor. The most important thing is to create muscule failure with least amount rest between sets and exercises. This will cause a hormonal and metabolic effect. This will cause calorie burning which will cause fat burning. Proper nutrition is the most important thing when it comes to fat loss. High Reps vs. Low Reps For Building Muscle
Similar to fat loss, the number of rep ranges that is optimal for muscle building is open to debate and the research is inconclusive. Most research points to reps under 15 reps as being better for muscle building, but other research shows muscle building can be equally effective with light weight and high reps.
For example, a recent study of resistance-trained young men found that light weight with high reps, performed until failure, was equally effective in stimulating muscle proteins as a heavy weight with low reps.4
There is a common misconception that lifting heavier weights automatically helps you build muscle. That’s not the case at all. In fact, how much you eat in combination with the overall volume and intensity of the workout and how it becomes more challenging over time will make the difference, not necessarily the weight/reps. If you eat relatively less calories than you burn, you can lift very, very heavy weight and most likely not gain an ounce of muscle mass. This especially applies to women who have 1/10 the amount of the muscle-building hormone testosterone as men. In a calorie deficit, increases in strength are likely due to neuromuscular adaptation and not increases in muscle mass.
To sum it all up, combining both low rep and high reps are more beneficial than just doing one or the other. Both assist in increasing strength. Both have their benefits for burning fat and increasing stamina. So when you are planning your strength or fat burning protocol, you should never limit yourself to just doing one.