‘’How many reps should I do?’’ This is a very common question in relation to weight training and one which has been answered with a million and one different answers, some of which conflict one another! As I sat there doing seated bicep curls with ‘’12’’ being repeated in my head like a Wasp’s buzz I was inspired to write about it.
The ‘golden’ range for stimulating muscular hypertrophy is normally 8-12 repetitions per set with the last few being a drastic struggle. However a lot of trainers take the number 12 as gospel as if 13, 14, 15 or even 16 won’t do anything for you. This is not the case! Even if you are focussing on a specifically heavy workout, lifting a heavy weight for 15 repetitions will definitely benefit you!
The number of repetitions you are aiming for is merely a guideline as to whereabouts you need to fail in order to stimulate the muscle to react in the way you want it to. Therefore if you hit the magic number ‘’12’’ and you could still get a few repetitions out, don’t stop! The muscle isn’t working to its full capacity if you do therefore it is not forced to change, that change being growth, to cope with the stress! Remember, your muscles don’t know how to measure repetitions, they only know how to act against a resistance put in front of them so to speak. Therefore your muscles are saying ‘’oh we have done 13 repetitions therefore we do not need to grow!’’ See how ridiculous that sounds? Yet it is alarming how many guys will stop at 12 because that is the end of the repetition range, even if they could have done another 5.
So should you count repetitions? Recently I have began to not bother because the way I see it is that if you are failing then the muscle is reaching total and utter fatigue, therefore it has been forced to work to it’s maximum capacity. For sure, I aim for a certain range and if I manage a few more reps that’s cool. However I do not stop at a specific number of reps unless we are doing very high repetition training and are doing drop sets. The logic behind this is that with high repetition training if you reach failure on your first sets you will struggle to finish the workout, therefore you need to be close but not over the edge.
So next time you are in the gym and you hit 12 repetitions don’t stop IF you have more left in the tank! It is nearly impossible to know at exactly what number you are going to fail at, therefore take each working set to the very end!