Are you one of those old school gym rats who believe heavy and low 6-10 rep resistance training the best stimulus for muscle growth? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us (yours truly included, so I’m not pointing any fingers) believe that the best stimulus for muscle growth is heavy lifting in the 6-10 rep range. However, recent scientific findings show that the classical heavy and low 6-10 rep training might not be the best way to induce muscle anabolism…

More reps might be better

The classic weight lifting recommendation for building muscle is to lift relatively heavy (over 70% of 1RM), or within the 6-10 rep range (1, 2). However, a recent study has shown that a training mode with lower weight and higher reps actually is more effective at inducing muscle anabolism and muscle growth (3).

This study had subjects perform 4 sets of leg extension at different loads and volumes (reps):

90% of 1RM to failure: corresponding to 180 lb for 5 reps     (90 FAIL)

30% of 1RM to failure: corresponding to 62 lb/24 reps             (30 FAIL)

30% of 1RM with a total work output similar to the 90% 1RM protocol:  corresponding to 62lb for 14 reps

The scientists measured myofibrillar protein synthesis (the type of muscle protein synthesis that makes the muscles grow) and several anabolic signalling pathways in the trained muscles.

This is the first study to show that low-load high volume resistance exercise (30FAIL) is more effective at increasing muscle protein synthesis than high-load low volume resistance exercise (90FAIL). Specifically, the 30FAIL protocol induced similar increases in myofibrillar protein synthesis to that induced by the 90FAIL protocol at 4 h post-exercise but this response was sustained at 24 h only in 30FAIL protocol. The 30FAIL protocol also stimulated the anabolic signalling pathways to a greater degree than the other exercise modes.

What does this mean?

This finding counters previous recommendations that heavy loads (i.e., high intensity) are necessary to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (1, 2, 4, 5). It is now apparent that the extent of muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise is not entirely load dependent, but is also related to exercise volume (that is, number of reps in this case). Thus, the total volume of contractions (number of reps), independent of load (intensity) apparently results in full motor unit activation and muscle fibre recruitment

Now, probably you’re thinking “am I supposed to start lifting like a chick” to build muscle? I want to point out that this study only investigated the effect of one bout of resistance exercise, comprising four sets) on muscle (myofibrillar) protein synthesis. In order to get a definite answer, long-term training studies need to be conducted. According to a personal communication with the head researcher (6), one such training study has been done and is now awaiting publication. With the reply “we are very confident in the short-term data”, at least I will start to throw in some high rep sets here and there in my training program. But in order for this to work, you have to train until complete failure. No sissies!

References:

1 American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2009 Mar;41(3):687-708.

2 Kraemer WJ, Fleck SJ. Optimizing Strenght Training: Designing Nonlinear Periodization Workouts: Human Kinetics; 2007.

3 Burd NA, West DW, Staples AW, et al. Low-load high volume resistance exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis more than high-load low volume resistance exercise in young men. PloS one. 2010;5(8):e12033.

4 Campos GE, Luecke TJ, Wendeln HK, et al. Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones. European journal of applied physiology. 2002 Nov;88(1-2):50-60.

5 Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA. Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription. Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 2004 Apr;36(4):674-88.

6 Phillips SM. Long term effects of high repetition resistance exercise training – Personal communication. 2011; July.

About Monica Mollica > www.trainergize.com

Monica Mollica > www.trainergize.com

Monica Mollica has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nutrition from the University of Stockholm, Sweden, and is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. She works a dietary consultant, health journalist and writer for www.BrinkZone.com, and is also a web designer and videographer.

Monica has admired and been fascinated by muscular and sculptured strong athletic bodies since childhood, and discovered bodybuilding as an early teenager. Realizing the importance of nutrition for maximal results in the gym, she went for a major in Nutrition at the University.

During her years at the University she was a regular contributor to the Swedish bodybuilding magazine BODY, and she has published the book (in Swedish) “Functional Foods for Health and Energy Balance”, and authored several book chapters in Swedish publications.

It was her insatiable thirst for knowledge and scientific research in the area of bodybuilding and health that brought her to the US. She has completed one semester at the PhD-program “Exercise, Nutrition and Preventive Health” at Baylor University Texas, at the department of Health Human Performance and Recreation, and worked as an ISSA certified personal trainer. Today, Monica is sharing her solid experience by doing dietary consultations and writing about topics related to bodybuilding, fitness, health and anti-aging.

95 Comments
  1. Monica 8 years ago

    We’ll have to wait until the training study get’s published; that study compared high rep training by itself to the low rep training. In the meantime I will use it as a complement to my traditional bodybuilding training.

    • John T 8 years ago

      Just wanted to say your muscle definition on all body parts is amazing and you look genuinely happy in your poses. What an inspiration!! In your pictures your doing squat poses using a smith machine. Do you actually do squats using a smith? I’ve read that’s bad because it locks your body in an un-natural form. What’s your take on that??
      As for the low rep/heavy weight and high/rep low weight I’ve used both styles in one workout routine doing a FD/FS Fiber damage Fiber Saturation routine (courtesy of Eric Broser) lifting heavy for 4-6 reps followed up by a lighter weight (60% less) for 30-40 reps. For me still being in the beginner stages of lifting (1.5 yrs) this worked really good for me on a 3 weeks cycle.

      • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

        Thanks for the nice compliments.
        And thanks for sharing your experience with the rep ranges 🙂
        In the photos you’re talking about I am actually doing Smith lunges. When it comes to squats, I do them both with a free bar and in the Smith. Free bar squat is my favorite, but I do Smith squat as well because I feel it hits the quads from a different angle, and gives variety. Doing squats in the Smith also gives you more options for foot positioning etc. I don’t agree that the Smith squat locks the body in an un-natural position if you use proper technique, quite to the contrary it is a good exercise for people who cannot squat with the free bar.

  2. Annette 8 years ago

    For the past 10 weeks I have been doing high rep training with I heavy day a week (full body workouts) along with a cyclic diet and I have gained 2 pounds of muscle mass without gaining alot of fat. I am now a sure believer of high rep training!

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I actually threw in some high-rep sets myself in my leg workout this morning; I can still feel it! Yay:)

  3. beej 8 years ago

    With apologies for my ignorance, what is considered “train until complete failure?”

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      That means doing as many reps as you can in full range of motion until you cannot complete one more rep in full range of motion. That’s call training to complete failure.

  4. me 8 years ago

    men or women? it’s a well known fact that women respond better to high-rep sets

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      This study was actually performed in men.

  5. floyd 8 years ago

    Dear Monica,
    I am a forensic and clinical Pathologist and working out since my 14th year on and off. My interest in anti-aging makes me wonder about healthy food that is promoting anti-aging.
    Can you comment on that or a site where I can read some more about the topic ?
    PS your body is fantastic

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      That’s a topic for a whole article; which I will write soon. In the meantime, check out http://www.lifeextensionfoundation.org

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      Oh, and thanks for the compliment 🙂

      • vanni 8 years ago

        you got a very nice triceps… love seeing it

  6. Hans 8 years ago

    This lady has a great body, I like that,
    Best
    Hans

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      Awwww, thank you 🙂

  7. Jose Antonio 8 years ago

    Well, it depends on the person who is working out. I think this study is not a law, it´s only a stdudy. The better way for muscle growth is to change the training from high reps/low weight to low reps/high weight from time to time.
    Thanks

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      That is true. However, this study shows that what usually is high-rep for most bodybuilders and other’s who train for muscle hypertrophy (I’d say around 15-18 reps) isn’t really that much of high rep. This study defines high rep as 24 reps. I have honestly never seen any serious lifter go above 20 reps.
      I agree that the best stimulus for muscle growth is to vary the intensity and volume. I think the study is interesting in that is shows us that a much higher rep range than most of us would consider to be high, actually might be necessary (at least one in a while) to activate anabolic pathways in the muscles.

      • Alex 8 years ago

        How bout the type of muscle fibers that this type of training might be producing, do you think that on the long term, endurance fibers can get you anywhere, or are they exactly what we are aiming for ?

  8. LuigiK 8 years ago

    read up on Pete Cisco and SCT

  9. Shannon 8 years ago

    This study really just points out what a lot of people have missed.
    With the primary focus always on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (high volume low rep)
    Myofibrillar hypertrophy is classically always missed, and normally because it’s ‘not cool’ to train
    Lighter. The two need to be considered for optimal response.

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      The interesting finding with this study is that the 30FAIL protocol resulted in a higher total 24 hr muscle protein synthesis in both the myofibrillar and sarcoplasmatic fractions.
      90FAIL resulted in a higher 24 hr myofibrillar protein synthesis than the 30 volume matched protocol, and the 30 volume matched protocol resulted in a higher 24 hr sarcoplasmatic protein synthesis. But the 30FAIL outdid both!
      I will for sure let everybody know as soon as the training study has been published 🙂

  10. Dale 8 years ago

    When doing the 30FAIL, how long of rest are you doing between sets?

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      In the study, for all training loads subjects were given 3 min rest between sets.
      The lifting cadence was 1 sec concentric, 0 sec pause and 1 sec eccentric muscle action.

  11. DougM 8 years ago

    Hi Will,
    Kinda weird stuff. Where’s the middle ground? I’m no pro, but have kept myself educated over the last 30 years. And it has seemed to be no secret over most opinion and most of that time that if your primary goal is strength, keep to low reps (6 – 10), max hypertrophy (12 reps +/-), and anything above 15 reps acts mostly upon endurance. Lots of overlap of course, but what is really new these days? These folks seem to skip the middle ground altogether, where ones emphasis should be, if your goal is maximum size gains. No?
    – Doug

    • Will Brink 8 years ago

      Not sure why you are addressing me Doug, as Monica wrote it, but the study suggests higher reps, much higher then most strength athletes would even consider, may be worth using if the goal is “maximum size gains” or strength. As she pointed out, more research is needed clearly, but it’s an interesting study to be sure. And shows is usual, the human body far more complex and adaptable then the generally static models we use.

      • Kevin 7 years ago

        In the end its all personal preference…. myself personally am more about raw power and strength and want dense hellaciously strong muscle and tendons and dont really give a flip about MAXIMAL muscle size as strength and power is what Im really after… to each their own…. However cycling training styles (rep ranges and other variables) can be a nice break from the monotony of low rep/max str and power training 🙂

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      DougM, what the study shows is that going over 15 reps stimulates muscle growth (myofibrillar protein synthesis) more than was previously though.

      • DougM 8 years ago

        Sorry Monica. I jumped from Will’s site to the article w/o considering it was written by someone else. Thanks for the article and all of the interest it is generating here. My takeaway is that higher reps, over 15, is not the “wasted effort” that some may have believed. I never thought so. I’ve done tons of slow twitch development along with the buffing out stuff. It’s all good. My critique on these researchers though is still that they totally blew the middle range where classic optimal hypertrophy has been thought to lie. I think the premise that the “classic range of 6 – 10 reps” is false. They then throw this weird middle range workout of wimpy weight for 14 reps to no where near failure, as if to cover the middle ground? Anyway, nice article on your part, but I’m not sure how impressed one should be with those researchers. Do you think they work out? Judging from your pic, I’d just keep doing what you’re doing!

  12. Pesi Padshah 8 years ago

    Sure, high reps to failure will get results. Nothing new in that. The great Steve Reeves used high reps a lot. But after a while, you’re likely to ‘plateau’. To continue making progress, low reps to failure might be the answer. And even later, very low reps (3 – 6), and stopping before ‘failure’, but going on, set after set, with the chosen number of reps, until the last rep of a particular set makes you say: “Enough”. In short, what’s needed is variety. So the next step could be to choose a different exercise for the same muscle-group, and start the cycle all over again, beginning with high reps to failure.

    • Monica 8 years ago

      Being a bodybuilder myself, I am certainly NOT saying that always doing sets in the 25 rep range is the best way to grow muscle. However, the study adds another training variable for us to manipulate in our quest to add variety to our workouts, and thereby ensure continuous progress. It for sure re-defined my own perception of what high rep is; in light of the recent study results, what I used to believe was high rep (around 15-18) is more appropriately termed medium rep.

  13. Mary 8 years ago

    Sounds like Monica may be on to something about doing more reps/lighter weights. I think I could lift more poundage in reps using lighter weights versus heavier weight. From looking at Monica’s picture. It certainly looks like she knows what she’s doing..

  14. Stephen 8 years ago

    Monica; Wow….
    As for reps, I have done my own experiments on myself and have found that, while swimming, I can endure for about 3 miles every other day. I have had to use alternate stroke types to allow the various muscle groups to rest and continue swimming. (This took about an hour and a half.)
    At one time my work required that I climb ladders a lot to work on heavy machinery. After a few months of this light/high rep exercise I was strong enough to pull myself up the ladders and only used my legs to stabilize my climb.
    To address the plateau issue I had to lift weights but did not spend a lot of time using them.
    Another thing I have done is walk a lot. Usually I have been walking about 5 miles or more a day.
    There is a list of things which walking does for me that are never addressed by any writers but this
    low stress high rep exercise has prevented me from most of the aggravations experienced by my peers.
    I am 64 and have begun to work on exercises using mostly my own body weight. Since I have never had weight training I have had to use a methodology which insures that I don’t tear or abuse my tissue and joints.
    Experience trumps theory every time. I have lost weight, gained muscle, changed body shape, and gained endurance but have never had to hobble into the doctor’s office or take a pain reliever because of my ” work outs “. One 55 year old doctor told me the other day that I was a genetic freak. LOL…
    Time to go for a walk. Until I write again…

  15. fairlane 8 years ago

    I think that’s neat. I always wondered if a very high rep/set combo had any benefit. The usual ‘classic’ mantra Monica talked about can get a bit boring at times. I’m glad the study showed some beneficial results. Looking forward to seeing the follow up data.
    What’s up Will? 😉

    • Will Brink 8 years ago

      Not my hair count Fairlane!

      • fairlane 8 years ago

        Pfft. Me neither Will. But don’t fret, bald is beautiful. Take stock in Mac3 razors! 😉

  16. Dave 8 years ago

    Monica/Will,
    I’m assuming “to fail” as defined in the study means to the point that a complete concentric contraction is no longer possible due to Monica’s “complete failure” comment. Is that a correct assumption?
    Also, the study protocol was 4 sets, do you believe that you can utilize an antagonistic pair super-set training approach (as espoused by Coach Staley’s EDT) using this protocol without adverse effect, and if so what should the rest period between sets be?
    Thanks!

    • Dave 8 years ago

      Monica/Will – Sorry for the extraneous post… Started to compose the question, then came back later and finished it, before bothering to read whether or not my questions had already been answered…and of course they were! 😮
      Cheers!

  17. Joe 8 years ago

    Will,
    I’m 46 and have been training naturally for many years. I’ve always searched for a training routing that would yield the best results without killing myself and compromising my health.
    I currently train using Pete Sisco’s Power Factor Workout and previous to that, his SCT(Static Contraction). I hope mentioning his name is not nails on a black board.
    Both of his training methods(SCT and PFT), which are measurable and proven all revolve around the highest possible weight using safe range partial movements, high intensity and most important, recovery.
    Since I’ve been using his training techniques, I have gained a lot more strength, some size and have had had NO injuries.
    Unless you are new to the sport or juicing, I really don’t see any other way of making any substantial gains other than using high intensity methods.

    • LuigiK 8 years ago

      Yes, juicing is the question. Has Monica been juice-free from start to finish? How about those photos of before and after and the timeline involved? I’ve never seen a woman gain such muscular bulk without artificial aid.

      • Alexa 8 years ago

        Man.. i dont think that juicing is even a question here… it is so obvious..

        • Will Brink 8 years ago

          And that’s relevant to the results and discussion of this study write up how exactly? It’s not. Be respectful here, stay on topic, and enjoy the site. An authors personal life. etc, is none of other people’s business, unless it has some direct bearing on the discussion.
          Thanx

          • LuigiK 8 years ago

            For heaven’s sake Will,
            The relevance is CREDIBILITY!
            When a person promulgates information as an expert never heard of before, we need credentials or some sort of validity.
            Arnold was massive and claimed to have the secret to reps and weight but he was a liar and a cheat also.

          • Alexa 8 years ago

            Im sorry to interfere but i dont see how juicing can be something to be ashamed of.. if somebody is ready to go the whole nine yards and take the risks.. somehow everytime this comes up in any discussion it ends up in argument, in my oppinion Monica should be proud of the awesome body she has, and i dont see why somebody else should be answering for her.. i think it is obvious, and that is what i stated before, trying to hide it has no logic in my humble oppinion, and i dont see how her knowledge should be less respected because of that.. 99% of us have juiced athletes as idols,. shes an adult and has every right to use whatever she may want to achieve her goals, and with help or not, she must have a lot of knowledge in order to get where she is now.

      • Will Brink 8 years ago

        Juicing is the question? Monica, as a person with an extensive science background, is commenting on a specific study that may be of interest/value to people. She’s not telling people they must train in X style to get a body like hers, etc. where one has any reason to ask if such results were obtained “naturally” or otherwise. What her personal experiences are with “juicing” and such, is frankly, none of your concern or anyone else here. Pleas stay on topic specific to the study at hand and refrain from what’s really an irrelevant issue here and mildly insulting to this author on the site here in my view.

      • Annette 8 years ago

        There is a better and more respectful way to ask your questions or make statement LuigiK.

        • LuigiK 8 years ago

          I asked very politely the first time, but was ignored or rebuked. If anybody is to “learn” from an expert it would be nice to know a little more background from the expert. Monica has a great body of that there’s no doubt and she writes well and discusses the subject well. All I asked was if she trained ONLY “naturally” or was her massive gain in size “assisted” synthetically. No disrespect was intended, purely interest in the background and training credentials of the moderator.

          • Annette 8 years ago

            I went back and re-read what you felt was a nice way to ask your question. I will assume that you meant well asking the question as you delivered it. But the way I read it and perhaps others read is that you were not asking but making the assumption that Monica “juiced” based on her appearance. I found your delivery of your question/statement disrespectful. And then you turned around and disrespectufully replied to Will Brink’s valid statement to you. You should not use all caps and you should not make any assumptions and keep your negative opinions to yourself. You are rude and you need to work on that

          • Will Brink 8 years ago

            “I asked very politely the first time,”
            Not polite, much less “very” polite and no one but you reading that would ever see it that way. The wording and the tone (not to mentioned as indicated the question is simply irrelevant to her write up on this study) were rude and disrespectful and it’s not the first time I have called you on that. Please take more time in thinking through your responses if you enjoy the site and wish to remain a member in good standing. This is not a public forum (ergo bb.com et al) where people can simply write what ever pops up in their mind and post it.

      • Will Brink 8 years ago

        Her credentials can be found in her bio. Perhaps read it. What are your credentials? Two, one more time, she’s giving specific info on a specific study, which as a scientist, is what she does, and does well. I know Arnold, you don’t, and he’s never pretended to have any knowledge of secret systems or anything else, and again, 100% irrelavent to this topic. Last warning, keep on topic (and discussing an authors personal business is not in my view) and be respectful to my authors or be gone. The only “validity” to be question here is, the study itself, vs the author, unless said author was offering it as proof it’s the way everyone should train, etc, etc,. which is not the case nor something I allow here as a rule.

        • Annette 8 years ago

          Will, you are a Teddy Bear! If I were moderating this site LuigiK would be sooooooo gone.

          • Will Brink 8 years ago

            I try to be nice Annette, I really do. I have many great qualities, patience with people not playing nice on my web site, not one of them. 🙂

          • Will Brink 8 years ago

            I hit the spam button on his last pretend “apology” which was nothing but insults and ignorant comments. I don’t want to see on my site here. Any additional comments by him that are anything but respectful to the author and or others here, will get his ISP perma banned. My web page, my rules.

          • Annette 8 years ago

            Awesome! He won’t behave.

    • Will Brink 8 years ago

      Joe, if the program you are using is working for you, great, stick with it 🙂
      However, I do not agree with your generalized statement that people can’t make excellent progress following other approaches. I’ve been in the game a long time, and can assure you, various approaches, if well thought out and based on current knowledge of correct programming, etc, will yield solid results, minus any “juicing”
      Good luck in the gym!

  18. John 8 years ago

    Hi All, Monica looks great and has clearly a got a good system that works for her.
    But…
    It all works but not forever.
    And…
    There is always something new coming along but does one size fit all?
    There are early studies that indicate one set of 8-12 reps to failure (real failure-cannot do another rep in good form) will cause hypertrophy.
    If you are making good progress do not fix something that is not broke. If you find something that works for you use it disregard the rest.
    Either way it has been a great debate. A great way to learn.
    Regards
    John

    • James 8 years ago

      Was this study conducted with trained or untrained subjects. This is always a critical factor. I have to suspect that someone who has been training for 10 years might not respond to such a light load the way a beginner might.

      • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

        The subjects were healthy recreationally active men, 21 years old, who had been engaging in resistance exercise alone or combined with cycling, 3 times weekly for the prior 6 months.
        Remember that the load was set relative to the 1RM; since the 1RM will be higher for a well trained person, it should physiologically have a similar effect.

  19. junaid 8 years ago

    i am very much impressed by your knowledge,
    regards

  20. Irishdeerhunter 8 years ago

    Hi Monica
    Pardon my ignorance (touch of the flu at the moment), so maybe I’m not reading the article properly.
    Did the (90 Fail) & (30 Fail) groups do 4 sets of 5 & 24 reps respectively (totaling 20 & 96 reps). In which case would you recommend doing say a 4 x 24 (or as many reps above 15 to failure for each set) as a finisher in a routine like the 5/3/1, which I am currently doing.
    On a side note, regarding the Smith machines, I don’t use them myself, but a lot of experts don’t recommend using them, due to the body being in a fixed position, which may cause knee & lower back problems in the long term. Just an opinion mind you from what I have read.
    Btw, you look in great shape!

    • Monica 8 years ago

      Yes, the subjects performed 4 sets of 5 & 24 reps respectively (totaling 20 & 96 reps).
      I believe finishing off with some high rep sets could benefit any routine.
      As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t have anything against squatting in the Smith. Even though I prefer the free bar squat exercise, I also do smith squats because I feel it hits my quads and glutes from a good different angle.
      Btw, thanks for the compliment 🙂

      • Irishdeerhunter 8 years ago

        Thanks Monica.

      • Vengeance 8 years ago

        If you were to do a program strictly adhering to this, what kind of frequency could you do? I’m thinking lighter loads are easier on the CNS so maybe full body 3x a week, 1 exercise x4 sets per muscle group. Or would it be better to still do a body part split with 2-3 exercises per muscle group? It would be a nice break from Max-OT.

        • Monica 8 years ago

          It depends what your goals are; if you want to build muscle I’d still go with a body part split.
          There are different ways of implementing this high-rep mode of training; either do it for all sets for 1-2 weeks, or only for ex in the final sets for each body part, or as drop-sets. I have implemented it in my workouts as final finishing off sets, and in drop sets.
          Like for most other bodybuilders who are reading this, this high-rep training is hard for me to swallow. However, I am always open to learn new things. After I came across this study and added in some high-rep sets to my workouts (without changing any other variables) I was actually sore the next day (which rarely happens to me). I interpret this as a sign that this type of high-rep sets are a good training variable to implement for variety and enhanced training stimulation to muscles that are “used” to be hit in the more typical 6-12 rep range.

          • DougM 8 years ago

            Nice to be back on topic!! Could it be that the new soreness is from slow twitch (endurance type) fibers that had gone underutilized before? In any case, always sounds good to mix it up, one way or another.

          • Alexa 8 years ago

            Implementing them as finishers isnt what most of us allready do ? at least i have allways done it.. altough i have endurance and strength cycles, even on strength ones i allways finish with a high rep assistance exercise for that bodypart, it gets me a good pump, blood flow and makes me be sure that the muscle was hit from every type of stimulation.. i sometimes go even over 50 reps on dropsets and off course they leave much more sore the next day.. nice to see that this has some scientific study backing it up 😉

          • Monica 8 years ago

            As mentioned above, most bodybuilders and others who train to increase muscle mass, usually believe 15-18 reps is “high-rep”. This study defines a “high-rep” range as starting at around 24-25 reps.

          • Vengeance 8 years ago

            Do you think you could do this for 2 weeks in place of a rest week? I just don’t see this as being too hard on the body. I’m thinking of doing 2 weeks of this every 6-8 weeks in place of a rest week where I do nothing at all.

  21. saber 8 years ago

    goooooooooooooooooooooooood

  22. Vengeance 8 years ago

    Well, just adding 2 sets of 24 to the end of each muscle group without changing anything else about the program(Max-OT) was apparently too much volume/work for me. My strength has dropped for the 3rd week in a row on them. For the first week I was able to do incline dumbbell presses with 50lbs for 24 reps. The second week I could only get 21, and today I only got 19. Most programs already have enough volume written into them.
    I did some number crunching and found that the 10 rep max is approximately work matched to the 24 rep max. They need to use the 10 rep max against the 24 rep max since they are still far apart, but come the closest to being work matched as well. For the average person 10rm is 75% of 1rm. Using 200 lbs for 10 reps is 2,000 total lbs of weight moved. 200 lbs / .75 = 266.66 as the 1rm. 266.66 x .3 = 80 lbs as the 24 rep max. 80 lbs x 24 reps is 1,920 total lbs of weight moved.
    This makes the 30% work matched obsolete. The study would be more accurate comparing 10rm to 24rm.

    • Monica 8 years ago

      Please note that 1RM is exercise specific; that is, 75% of 1RM for one exercise will be different from 75% of 1RM for another exercise. Therefore, it is completely incorrect to say that “10 reps correspond to 75% of 1RM for the average person” or that “75% of 1RM correspond to 10 reps”.
      You can try to exchange the two last “regular” sets for the high-rep sets, keeping the total number of sets constant. Try different implementations until you find a combination that works for you.

      • Vengeance 8 years ago

        The % of 1rm is pretty consistent for me on all exercises, except where balance is concerned like barbell curls. When curling 70% of your body weight, it’s more of an issue of center of gravity rather than strength. When I switch to alternating dumbbell curls the percentage estimate still holds true. So, at least for me it’s not exercise/body part specific.

      • Vengeance 8 years ago

        Not to mention you’re making an argument against the study saying 30% 1rm corresponds to 24 reps. Since they’d apparently be different numbers, which do we do for other exercises? 30% of 1rm, or 24 reps?

        • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

          For the leg extension that was used in the study, 30% of 1RM did correspond to 24 reps. However, 30% of 1RM for another exercise and/or muscle group doesn’t necessarily correspond to 24 reps.
          One reason for this is the relationship between the percentage of 1RM and the number of repetitions that can be performed at that percentage, vary with the amount of muscle mass involved (1,2). For example, while 80% of 1RM might correspond to 15RM for leg press, it is closer to 7-8 RM for biceps curl.
          To complicate the percentage-of-1RM method further, a certain percentage of 1RM with free weight exercises will allow for fewer repetitions than the same percentage of 1RM for an exercise of the same muscle group performed on a machine. For these reasons, it is much better to train within a specific RM zone to achieve a certain stimulus, than to obsess about 1RM percentages.
          Don’t get too obsessed with the 1RM percentage. Shoot instead for the RM range of about 24-25 reps on every exercise you wish to use for this mode of stimulus.
          References:
          1) Hoeger WW, et at. Relationship between repetitions and selected percentages of one repetition maximum. J Appl Sport Science Research. 1987;1:11-13.
          2) Hoeger WW, et at. Relationship between repetitions and selected percentages of one repetition maximum: a comparision between untrained and trained males and females. J Appl Sport Science Research. 1990;4:47-54.
          3) Fleck SJ, Kraemer WJ. Designing Resistance Training Programs. 3rd ed: Human Kinetica; 2004.

  23. Bill Rouse 8 years ago

    Hey Bill this seems contrary to old beliefs but I’m willing to give it a try, I am going to a model exhibition in October and have to lift heavy locomotives into the centre so it will benefit me a lot
    Thanks
    bill

  24. Vengeance 8 years ago

    I finished my second week of a 24 rep experiment. I gained .3lb lbm the first week, and .52lb the second week. It seems like everything grew except my biceps(they shrunk a little). They probably like more weight. It could just be the new stimulus since I’ve been doing Max-OT for 7 months, or it could just “work”. I just did 4×24 for every exercise. Well, only the first set was 24. I stuck with the same weight for the other sets so each successive set was lower in reps. No need to warm up with reps this high. The first 20 reps are the warm up.

    • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Have you felt any difference in muscle soreness with this new type of training? I certainly do 🙂

      • Vengeance 8 years ago

        Yeah. It was the worst in the first week. Now that I’m in my third week, it’s back to normal. I can hardly walk during/after training legs. The reps/weight go up pretty quick. I’m doing 20lbs more on certain exercises than the first week. It could be my cardio/conditioning increasing since I never do cardio. A good side effect of this exhaustive training is my blood pressure is lower now. It’s the first time it’s been in the normal range in a while. Before I started this workout it averaged 132/79; it was just 112/78 today. I’m going to switch back and forth between Max-OT style and this every month.

      • Vengeance 8 years ago

        Related study by the same people.
        http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2011/02/02/jn.110.135038.abstract
        I’m not versed on the subject. Which would be better, Phosphorylation of Ser473(90 fail) or Ser2448(30 fail)? Would one lead to more growth over the other?

        • Monica Mollica 8 years ago

          Both!

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  33. Gregg 7 years ago

    Over and over and over again. So which is it? With me I say pick one and go with it. Ive tried both over the years and currently going on the heavy side/low rep and throw in some light to failure sets on the end. Tryin to get the best of both worlds so to speak. The main thing is that I enjoy the journey. Its all about the workout with tid bits of results sprinkled along the way as an appitizer along the way to keep me comming back for more. Thats my take……

    • Gregg 7 years ago

      Just to add that for the first time ever I “AM” seeing the kind of results with high weight/low reps routine this go around that I’ve always read about. With age comes maturity and disipline combined with comprehension of all the minute details of technique, form, intensity, nutrition, faith…….. just to name a few, would be what I attributed my recent success to. Thanks for letting me share guys, as I am not a professional by any means, just a hobbiest that is 51yrs old trying to get the most out of a sport that I happen to enjoy very much. Not a bodybuilder although I care about my looks, not a power lifter but I care about my 1 rep max…… 🙂

  34. Lukas 7 years ago

    Very interesting! – such a shame a “conventional” 10 rep to fail set isn’t included.
    Anyways i wouldn’t want to do a 30FAIL protocol of deadlifts…

    • AMI 7 years ago

      Why not? Are you sick or something? I do as many lifts as possible, even 100 reps…

  35. robert 7 years ago

    Good info.keep us posted of your findings.
    Thank,
    robert

  36. David 7 years ago

    I think the salient points of this article are:
    “In order to get a definite answer, long-term training studies need to be conducted…” and “But in order for this to work, you have to train until complete failure.”
    The author is careful not to get ahead of the data. I have no doubt from my own experience that high-reps can produce strength and mass but not when I (used to) think of high-rep days as “light” days. Also I find the impact on my nervous system (I am middle-aged) is a little lighter with high-reps than going heavy. The variety helps keep my interest level from dropping,

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