As people become more educated on the topic of training there are continuously new and improved ways of building nice lean muscle tissue. Not so long ago it was considered that the only way to add mass and size to the frame is to do low repetition ranges, say between 6-12, with very heavy weights. Whilst this still certainly works, there are huge misconceptions that higher rep workouts do not aid muscle gains! This article is going to focus on the positives of higher rep sets and why people who tell they are a waste of time are missing a trick!
To put a figure on what is classed as a ‘high rep’ set is difficult, but let’s say above 15 repetitions is getting towards the figure. However a high rep set can go as high as say 60 repetitions depending on the muscle group and exercise.
So why are high repetition exercises and sets beneficial to muscle growth? Let’s start with blood flow into the muscle. Using a regular rep range for muscle growth does indeed pump blood into the muscle, but imagine each repetition as a ‘pump’ device by which each time you do a rep more blood is forced into the muscle cell. That is what happens with higher rep sets to an extent and you will definitely notice a much bigger pump. The benefits of increased blood flow into the muscle start with higher levels of nutrients in the muscle cell which can lead to improved muscle recovery, muscle growth as well as enhanced energy levels. Furthermore, the added volume of blood in the muscle cell can also help stretch out the fascia tissues which surround your muscle fibres, which to an extent can expand the capacity for the development of new muscle fibres. However, looking at the bigger picture in certain areas of your body slow twitch muscle fibres, the ones that are stimulated with higher repetitions, account for as much as 40% of your muscle mass! Yes, 40%, so if you avoid stimulating these muscle fibres on a regular basis it stands to reason you are missing out on a huge part of your overall potential growth. As a word of advice there is a flip side and that is that there is a limit to the ‘muscle pump’ you can achieve even with high reps because your muscle glycogen levels will deplete as your workout goes on and as this happens you will struggle to hold blood in the muscle as well. So whilst I strongly advocate higher repetition sets from time to time you have to know when you have done enough and then leave the gym to rest and grow!
Another great benefit of using higher repetition sets occasionally is that you are completely destroying the muscle fibres, yet the weight you are using to achieve this will be a fraction of what you would normally lift if you were doing low reps. This is great because you can stimulate maximal muscle growth yet save your joints from too much strain and give them a rest. One of the best sayings in bodybuilding is ‘it is not what you can lift but what you look like you can lift.’ The muscles in your body can’t calculate what weight you are lifting but instead they can only respond to the stress and done right you can really hammer them without all that much weight.
There are some top tips on why high rep workouts from time to time can benefit you in your aim to build lean muscle mass! Don’t forget, high repetitions will keep your heart rate elevated for longer during your workouts therefore you will also be burning more calories!