One of the most common things that you will hear about bodybuilding is “use low reps for creating mass and high reps for creating cuts”. But did you know this is completely wrong? Facts about rep ranges are completely unknown to bodybuilders and bodybuilding community across the world. So let’s get started by understanding the various reps that will assist with bodybuilding.
The Low Reps
Reps in the range of 1-5 are known as low reps. It is commonly believed that high reps can stimulate slow twitch muscle fibers and low reps can stimulate fast twitch muscle fibres. Again, this is incorrect. The fact is that low reps has the ability to stimulate all types of muscle fibres right from slow to intermediate and fast.
It is important to know that when the muscle is under load, the slow twitch fibres will come into play first. When slow twitch fibres are unable to generate the required force for lifting weight, your body will then use the intermediate fibres to do the same.
Stimulation of myofibrillar hypertrophy is also possible through low reps. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is one of the categories of uscle hypertrophy, relating to a rise in the size of skeletal muscles. Myofibrillar hypertrophy leads to strength gains and involves increase in contractile tissue.
The Moderate Reps
The moderate reps range from 6-12 and studies have proven that it leads to the highest amount of muscle growth for a bodybuilder. Moderate reps offer several benefits of low rep training along with salient advantages of high rep training as well. It allows use of heavy loads and also increases the time under tension. Using heavy loads ensures myofibrillar protein synthesis which further helps in increasing the size of contractile proteins. This increase in time under tension helps to stimulate sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
When there is an increase in the sarcoplasm as well as non-contractile proteins within the cells of your muscle then it is known as Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This is made possible through lifting of lighter loads during higher reps, which induces a type of muscle growth that is not always accompanied by strength gains. This is exactly the reason why most bodybuilders end up with more muscles than power and strength as compared to athletes.
Another salient aspect of moderate reps program is that it can induce excellent muscle pump. Even though, pump is considered to be a short-term exercise effect, it can lead to greater growth. Studies conducted in the past have shown decrease in protein breakdown and increase in protein synthesis due to cellular swelling.
Low reps, when performed with heavy weights, are perfect to stimulate myofibrillar hypertrophy while high reps with lighter weights are great for stimulating sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Sets of 15 reps or more are categorised as high reps. Although some experts may feel that it is not necessary to do high reps, the truth is that high reps focus on one important factor, which is how glycogen affects protein synthesis.
Glycogen as we all know is a form of carbohydrates that is stored within our muscle tissues. Glycogen causes muscles in the body to swell because each gram of glycogen can absorb 2.7 grams of water (Chan et al. 1982). You are probably wondering, why should muscles contain water? The truth is that water not only helps in increasing size of muscles but also assists in protein synthesis.
The next question is what does all this have to do with high reps? When you participate in high rep program, the glycogen in your body will deplete. Your body will then react to glycogen depletion through increasing glycogen storage in muscles. This will ensure your cells can stretch and enable overall muscle growth in the long run.
Bottom line is that you need to go out there and start lifting some real weights and burn some fat with high reps!