How Many Reps Should You Do To Build Muscle?

Ben Greenfield
1-minute read

If you follow me on Twitter, then you may remember a study I mentioned last year that reported you can put on muscle just as fast with a high rep, low weight workout of 30% intensity to failure as you can with a low rep, high weight workout with 90% intensity to failure.

Just this month, a new study was released that reports a similar finding.

It turns out that when it comes to building muscle, it’s not about how heavy you go or how many reps you do – it’s whether or not you lift to failure. This flies in the face of the traditional assumption that lifting super heavy weights for 6-12 reps to failure is the only way to maximize muscle growth.

But before you ditch any heavy weight training, it’s important to realize that although training load did not seem to matter when it came to building muscle, it did (in both studies) have a clear impact on maximum strength gains – with the heavier groups gaining significantly more strength.

So if your goals are both to build muscle and to get strong, it’s important to use 80-90% of your one repetition max. But if you just want muscle, grab any weight, and lift it until you’re tired. Your body will know what to do from there.

If you have questions about how many reps are necessary to build muscle, then ask away at the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page.

My new book is out! Transform your body for summer with Get-Fit Guy’s Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body!

Weights image courtesy of Shutterstock

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.