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Are Your REPS in Line with Your GOALS?

I have been ‘burning’ on this article for way too long, so I suppose I could have called it “James Ellis is Burning” after one of my favorite ESPN shows “Jim Rome is Burning”. A couple of my biggest pet peeves in the gym are people that have bad form when they are lifting (can’t really blame them as they likely don’t know any better), and when certain individuals simply try to push way more weight than they should be pushing. The likely outcome for both of these situations is injury.

Well, now I have a new pet peeve, and that is people that are trying to get a specific result with their build, however, they are doing the wrong amount of repetitions (again, I really can’t blame them as they likely don’t know any better). For example, years ago a smaller guy weighing about 130 pounds asked me for a spot on shoulder press. I go to spot him and see that he has a ton of weight on the bar, so I ask him how many reps he’d like to achieve. He responds by telling me he’d like to get one or maybe two reps and proceeds to tell me that he is trying to bulk up. He ended up asking me for advice and I was able to point him in the right direction for bulking up/mass gaining.

A similar thing happened years ago when I noticed a group of guys whom I know are trying to bulk up doing only one or two reps on all their chest exercises. Each of these guys has that puffy power lifter look rather than the muscular and vascular bodybuilder look they are supposedly trying to attain. In truth, these guys and the 130 pound guy are doing power lifting style of training. This can help them to get stronger, but they won’t see nearly as much muscle growth in that ‘power lifting training zone as they would in the bodybuilding/mass gaining zone (hypertrophy zone).

I would venture to guess that most weight trainers are looking to tone up, build some muscle, or strengthen their muscle. The biggest problem is that a majority of people simply don’t know how to achieve those goals. Below I have attached a chart which explains how you should workout in order to successfully reach your goals.

As I mentioned before, the guys I talked about above were doing power lifting style training, but actually wanted to get hypertrophy/bodybuilding style results. They should have been doing reps of 9-12 to build mass/muscle, not the 1 or 2 reps they were doing. The 130 pound guy I spotted years ago has gained 35 pounds of mass now, because he took my advice and started training in the 9-12 reps range. So, be sure to plan your lifting schedule according the chart above as this will certainly help you to get the results you desire.

You may be like me however, and want to get the benefits of a few of the categories in the chart above. I often times do a hybrid style training program where I build mass & gain some strength by doing reps within a range of 6-12. Basically, I do 3-4 sets per exercise and shoot for 12 reps on set 1, 10 reps on set 2, 8 reps on set 3, and if I do a 4th set I shoot for 6 or more reps. So, as you can see, my first two sets are in that Hypertrophy range and my last two sets are in the strength training range. Note: Each set I am increasing the weight on my exercise too and I want to be struggling to get that last rep. I find that a little bit of strength training can be beneficial to my hypertrophy training as it will help me to push more weight even in the hypertrophy training in the long run because I am getting stronger.

So, now it’s up to you to pick your poison as that chart above is your tool. Do you want to be a power lifter? Maybe you’d just like to strength train and work on toning your muscles? Or you might feel that it’s time to put some mass on and step into the hypertrophy training? Do your muscles wear out quickly? In that case you need to step into the endurance training and shoot for 13-20+ reps per set. Now that you know what to do, I’ll see you in the gym getting the results you desire through

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