If you walk into most gyms today, you’ll see a major contrast between the weights used by men and women.

Some women will curl 5 pound dumbbells for 25 reps in an effort to “tone” their arms, while some guys will bench a ton of weight for only a few reps in an effort to put on muscle and increase strength.

The idea is that high reps help you lose fat and make a muscle more “toned”. On the other hand, low reps can help you build muscle and increase strength.

Is it really this simple? High reps for fat loss and low reps for strength and muscle building?

In this article, you will learn why it’s a smart idea to use both low and high rep ranges in your workout regimen if you want to build muscle, lose fat, or simply improve overall physical fitness. You will also learn why you can build muscle, increase strength, or lose fat with just about any rep range, but some rep ranges are more optimal than others for each training outcome. Finally, in terms of time-efficiency, safety, and overall effectiveness, the ideal rep ranges to elicit the greatest changes in body composition (both fat loss and muscle building) likely occur within the 6-12 rep range.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: The Strength Continuum

The Strength Continuum is a framework where strength and endurance exist on a continuum that defines the relationship between weight, reps, and training outcome. Strength is represented by the 1 repetition maximum (1RM), which is the maximum weight that can be lifted for one rep, and endurance is the ability to exert a lower force repeatedly over time.

Low repetitions with heavy weight increases strength, whereas high repetitions with light weight increases endurance. According to the concept, as repetitions increase there is a gradual transition from strength to endurance.

Below is a commonly used graph of the strength continuum. The training outcome “Hypertrophy”, which means muscle-building is not an entirely accurate label as you’ll learn more about in a moment.

This framework also works in line with our understanding of muscle fiber types. High reps develop Type 1 muscle fibers (“slow twitch”) that are endurance based and slow to fatigue. Lower repetitions activate Type 2 muscle fibers (“fast twitch”), which have greater power but fatigue quickly.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Strength

For optimal strength increases, the research conclusively supports low reps with heavy weight vs. high reps with light weight, but high reps can still elicit gains in strength as well.1

For example, in one study, 23 cyclists were placed into high resistance/low repetition (LR), low resistance/high repetition (HR), or cycling-only groups for a 10-week program.2

There were substantial strength gains in all 4 resistance training exercises tested for both LR and HR groups, but the LR group had “significantly” greater strength gains than the HR group in the leg press exercise. Interestingly, muscle hypertrophy and overall endurance was relatively equal.

As this study and many others highlight, for optimal strength gains, lift relatively heavier weight for low reps. This is in line with how Powerlifters train for competitions to help increase neuromuscular adaptation, which is the efficiency of the brain to control the muscles. You can get stronger as a result of increase in muscle size OR increase in neuromuscular adaptation.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Fat Loss

Some believe heavy weights are only good for building muscle, but what about fat loss? Can lifting heavier help you burn more fat, or does it turn you into the hulk?

One study from the University of Alabama in Birmingham showed that dieters who lifted heavy weights lost the same amount of weight as dieters who did just cardio, but all the weight lost by the weight lifters was fat while the cardio group lost muscle along with some fat.3. The common belief is that high reps magically get rid of fat. While high reps with light weight to fatigue can create a muscular response, it does not necessarily remove fat better than low reps with heavy weight.

While more studies are needed to compare the fat loss effects of high reps vs. low reps, substantial evidence is mounting that it’s not necessarily the amount of weight that is used, or the number of repetitions that helps burn the most fat, but the intensity of the workout. The goal is to create muscular failure with less rest between exercises, which can have powerful hormonal, metabolic, and calorie burn effects (See: afterburn effect). In addition, for fat loss, proper nutrition will have a MUCH greater impact on fat loss than the specific rep range, or even workout.

High Reps vs. Low Reps For Building Muscle

Similar to fat loss, the number of rep ranges that is optimal for muscle building is open to debate and the research is inconclusive. Most research points to reps under 15 reps as being better for muscle building, but other research shows muscle building can be equally effective with light weight and high reps.

For example, a recent study of resistance-trained young men found that light weight with high reps, performed until failure, was equally effective in stimulating muscle proteins as a heavy weight with low reps.4

There is a common misconception that lifting heavier weights automatically helps you build muscle. That’s not the case at all. In fact, how much you eat in combination with the overall volume and intensity of the workout and how it becomes more challenging over time will make the difference, not necessarily the weight/reps. If you eat relatively less calories than you burn, you can lift very, very heavy weight and most likely not gain an ounce of muscle mass. This especially applies to women who have 1/10 the amount of the muscle-building hormone testosterone as men. In a calorie deficit, increases in strength are likely due to neuromuscular adaptation and not increases in muscle mass.

High Reps vs. Low Reps: Putting It All Together

So now we know just about any rep range can help you increase strength, build muscle, or lose fat, but what ranges should you use? What should be your focus? The following proposes what may be optimal rep ranges based on specific goals.5

Primary Goal – Increasing Strength

Strength – Under 6 reps (80-100% of exercise volume)

Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (0-20% of exercise volume)

Endurance – 15+ reps (0-10% of exercise volume)

The top strength athletes in the world spend the vast majority of their time lifting very heavy weight for low reps. While we know higher rep ranges can also create strength gains, lower reps are optimal.

Primary Goal – Optimal Fat Loss

Strength – Under 6 reps (0-15% of exercise volume)

Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (70-85% of exercise volume)

Endurance – 15+ reps (15% of exercise volume)

As stated earlier, the intensity of the workout is more important than the specific rep ranges for fat loss, but the following is a smart approach that combines what I consider the “sweet spot” of the 6-15 reps, which can further be broken down into 6-10 and 10-15. For less advanced lifters and the general population, those ranges can be changed slightly to 8-12, and 12-15.

There a couple very compelling benefits of the 6-15 rep range. First, you are getting significant muscle stimulation with much less chance of injury than lifting very heavy weights for low reps (under 6 reps). Second, it takes less time to workout than using 15+ reps all the time, which does not offer much added benefit. If you are a beginner, I recommend against using under 12 reps. If you don’t want to push yourself with low reps, there isn’t any need to go below 6 reps, or even below 10 reps if you are older, or fear getting injured. Lifting in multiple rep ranges will help stimulate a maximum amount of muscle fibers to help burn fat and improve overall fitness.

So how do you implement high and low rep ranges in your workouts? There are few primary options (1) complete low and high reps in the same workout using different exercises, (2) start out with higher reps (say 15 reps) and go down in reps as you complete multiple sets for a given exercise, or (3) change up your workouts, so that some are geared towards strength vs. endurance.

Primary Goal – Building Muscle

Strength – Under 6 reps (30% of exercise volume)

Hypertrophy – 6-15 reps (60% of exercise volume)

Endurance – 15+ reps (10% of exercise volume)

As you learned before, while research shows it is possible to build muscle with lighter weights, the traditional method is to lift relatively heavier weights and increase those weights over time. Of course, genetics play an important factor as does the composition of muscle fibers from one muscle to the next and one individual to the next.

If you are looking to increase strength, build muscle, and increase fat loss all at the same time (which is not a great idea for reasons discussed here – Can You Lose Fat And Build Muscle At the Same Time?), stick with the ratios in the Optimal Fat Loss section.

I hope this article was enlightening to help dispel some of the common myths associated with lifting weights and has empowered you with useful information you can apply to your current exercise regimen.

Do you want to follow a proven fitness plan? Then start my 12-Week Body Transformation Program

Show 5 References

  1. Nicholas A. Burd, Cameron J. Mitchell, Tyler A. Churchward-Venne, Stuart M. Phillips. Bigger weights may not beget bigger muscles: evidence from acute muscle protein synthetic responses after resistance exercise . Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2012.
  2. Jackson NP, Hickey MS, Reiser RF 2nd. High resistance/low repetition vs. low resistance/high repetition training: effects on performance of trained cyclists . J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Feb;21(1):289-95.
  3. Geliebter A, Maher MM, Gerace L, Gutin B, Heymsfield SB, Hashim SA. Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;66(3):557-63
  4. Mitchell CJ, Churchward-venne TA, West DW, et al. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. J Appl Physiol. 2012;113(1):71-7.
  5. Buitrago S, Wirtz N, Yue Z, Kleinöder H, Mester J. Effects of load and training modes on physiological and metabolic responses in resistance exercise . Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Jul;112(7):2739-48.


  1. profile avatar
    Andrew Jul 19, 2012 - 09:06 #

    This is a great post. Each different aspect for different goals. People need to understand to lift for their individual goal. There is not one size fits all answer!

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 19, 2012 - 14:31 #

      @Andrew – That’s exactly the point. I hope I made it clear in the article, but I think nutrition and workout intensity is generally more important than specific weight and rep ranges for a given training outcome.

  2. profile avatar
    Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 19, 2012 - 09:06 #

    One thing I considered adding to the article but did not for fear of information overload is the idea that rep tempo can also impact the training outcome. So for example, light weight for lower reps with a long tempo (let’s say 5 seconds up, 5 seconds down) can have a different effect than light weight for high reps.

  3. profile avatar
    Bobby Dough Jul 20, 2012 - 06:44 #


  4. profile avatar
    Scott Bradley Jul 20, 2012 - 12:37 #

    Marc – This is a fantastic article. I really like how you detailed out all of the scenarios. It makes a lot more sense now!

  5. profile avatar
    Francis Jul 20, 2012 - 13:38 #

    Another Smashing Marc Perry article!!!

  6. profile avatar
    Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 20, 2012 - 14:15 #

    Thanks a lot, guys. I appreciate it!

  7. profile avatar
    Thaddeus Jul 20, 2012 - 17:15 #

    Awesome! I was getting very confused about this subject only in this past week! Thanks for clearing it up Marc XD

  8. profile avatar
    Fran Jul 20, 2012 - 23:44 #

    Fabulous article. For clarification, can you give an example of exercise volume and how you calculate or ascertain.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 25, 2012 - 14:29 #

      @Fran, sure I can! There are several different ways to calculate exercise volume, but the most popular is based on multiplying reps x sets x weight.

      So for example, let’s take 2 workouts. In one workout you complete 6 exercises for 3 sets each of 12 reps. Each exercise you use the same weight of 50lb The second workout you complete 3 exercises for 2 sets of 6 reps each and 70lb.

      Exercise Volume Workout #1 = 6 x 3 x 12 x 50 = 10,800lb

      Exercise Volume Workout #2 = 3 x 2 x 6 x 70 = 2,520lb

      So Workout #2 is only roughly 1/5 the volume of Workout #1. The missing factor of course is intensity. In the second workout, the rest between sets of each exercise may have been only 30 seconds, which would have been brutal because heavier weight was lifted. In workout #1, the rest may have been 2 minutes. It’s not easy to perfectly describe the volume/intensity for each workout, which is why a qualitative assessment should also be used.

      1. profile avatar
        Fran Jul 25, 2012 - 15:17 #

        As always I so appreciate your responses and information, and your attention to detail. The support you offer is absolutely incredible as is your program. A chiropractor for decades now, always having been health conscious, the re-direct and remembering the basics has once again become my staple for longevity! I have reached my goals with your program and have the foundation to go anywhere from here. Thank you so much.

      2. profile avatar
        Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 26, 2012 - 08:21 #

        @Fran – You made my day with your comment. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and congrats on your success!

  9. profile avatar
    Kevin Jul 21, 2012 - 10:17 #

    Hey Marc. Do u have any ideas on a good full body work out? I don’t no what exercises to do or how many times to do them

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 25, 2012 - 14:30 #

      @Kevin – Check out my Get Lean Guide for a free full body workout and use the BuiltLean search bar at the top of the site and search “full body workout”.

  10. profile avatar
    Diego Jul 21, 2012 - 12:40 #

    Marc, the site is amazing. I am a student of Physical Education and I think more people, especially here in Brazil, should have access to your content, you give permission to translate some posts that I find interesting and put on my blog, quoting the source, of course?


    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 25, 2012 - 14:32 #

      @Diego – I think you can certainly translate them, but in summary form, then link to the original article. Reprinting full articles even in another language is against our copyright policy! But thank you very much for your kind comment!

  11. profile avatar
    Jason Jul 21, 2012 - 15:34 #

    I agree with the others. A well written article. You did a good job of summarizing a very detailed concept.

  12. profile avatar
    Ginsling Jul 22, 2012 - 05:53 #

    Marc, thanks for the distillation.

    You mentioned female physiological differences only once (hormonal). I don’t want to increase my muscle size, and I’m already quite toned (around 18% BF), but I do want to increase strength. I don’t do weight-lifting or use machine weights at all – I only use body weight as a means of training. So If I have understood your article correctly, I would need to increase the speed of my reps, but keep rep numbers below 15 to increase strength, and start adding weights (eg belt) to increase resistance?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 25, 2012 - 14:44 #

      @Ginsling – If you want to increase strength with only bodyweight exercises, I would recommend choosing harder and harder exercises. For example, you can check out these two posts – 10 Pull Up Variations and 10 Push Up Variations. In addition, you can add a weighted vest to make the current exercises you are doing more challenging.

  13. profile avatar
    Don Jul 22, 2012 - 17:14 #

    Great article, thank you.

    “So how do you implement high and low rep ranges in your workouts? There are few primary options (1) complete low and high reps in the same workout using different exercises, (2) start out with higher reps (say 15 reps) and go down in reps as you complete multiple sets for a given exercise, or (3) change up your workouts, so that some are geared towards strength vs. endurance.”

    How many “sets” is ideal with this type of workout?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 25, 2012 - 14:36 #

      @Don – That’s a great question and worthy of another post. A lot of research has been completed looking at optimal sets. Some studies show only 1 set of a given exercise is needed to maintain and even increase strength, whereas others have shown 3, or more is optimal. I personally prefer 3 as the sweet spot, and up to 5 if I want to create more muscle damage for muscle building.

  14. profile avatar
    john aouad Jul 23, 2012 - 12:47 #

    very interresting article with a great target & answers a regular question that all my clients & friends always ask me & they always forget the answer..good article marc.regards

  15. profile avatar
    Priscilla L Martin Jul 23, 2012 - 13:39 #

    Hello Marc. I really like this article because I never knew how important it is to have a great training update while getting in shape or staying up with proper function issues. Working out, as you continue to inform us, is more than just some moves here and there. Thank you for sharing.

  16. profile avatar
    Marq Jul 24, 2012 - 07:19 #

    Now this is a good article,to me a sight of well developed arms and abs…or the whole package of a woman physique looks simply good and echoes that she actually does something for her and not just “go through the motions”..meaning cranking high reps with some itty bitty weight.At the gym I go there´s too many ladies who would benefit a bit different training, far too many times I´ve wanted to suggest different rep/weight scenario but the ladies-magazine infused “self-image” and the fear of getting TOO BIG TOO FAST is set so deep that they don´t want to even try! Which is pure BS,honestly.
    Unless you´re using illegal substances it´s impossible to gain huge slabs of muscle over night or even in forth night!
    I blame the “fashion magazines”…enough with these “coat-hangers” already!!!
    If I could suggest for the entertainment industry together with the fashion world, they should present these fitness competitors in off-season or fit (=weight training) celebs more and tell how much better “natural” bodybuilding is as a way of life or just a sport! Only time will tell….

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 25, 2012 - 14:39 #

      @Marq – Agreed!

  17. profile avatar
    Bryce Jul 25, 2012 - 15:31 #

    I have the habit of performing exercises in sets of 3 with 12 reps each, by beginning the first set with a lower weight and gradually increasing the weight by 5-20 lbs each set. Normally the first 2 sets I can complete to 12 and the 3rd set I’m anywhere between 6-12 (to failure). Right now my goal is to lose body fat (but won’t complain with some muscle gain as well!). Does this sound like a good set/rep combo? Or maybe I should be switching it up more? If so, how do you determine what exercises should have H vs L reps?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 26, 2012 - 08:25 #

      @Bryce – I think the rep strategy you are using for fat loss is solid, starting out with 12, then going down from there. You will be getting both endurance/strength benefits to recruit a lot of muscle fibers and help burn more calories. If you are doing any plyometric exercises, I would consider doing those with higher reps, such as jump squats or jump lunges. Also, you may consider throwing in a workout every couple weeks where you start at 15 reps then go down from there, just to change things up.

  18. profile avatar
    Carol MacKenzie Jul 31, 2012 - 11:26 #

    Hi, very informative article, will need to absorb. My reason for viewing is that my husband has recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I would like him to attend a gym to do exercises to maintain and build leg strength and upper body strength to enable him to stay ‘fit’ to help with mobility in the future. Can you suggest any specific exercises or regimes that might help.

  19. profile avatar
    Fran Jul 31, 2012 - 13:11 #

    Marc is the guy to ask re exercise and strenthening for sure, for any condition! May I also suggest rebounding with a trampoline. Very few exercises create the type of movement across the blood brain barrier that rebounding can do and it is extremely helpful with MS and Parkinson’s because of that. Be sure to get a quality trampoline which is “easy” on the knees and created to absorb that impact. Trampolines can be used at any stage for anyone. For instance babies are placed on them and you simply push down and give them that movement, or a railing can be placed around them for those who are challenged with balance.

    1. profile avatar
      Carol MacKenzie Aug 01, 2012 - 03:49 #

      Hi Fran, thank you for the information, we do have a rebounder but hadn’t thought of using that, good information though. Unfortunately I’m not sure it would be suitable for my husband as he also has a degenerative spine, would it still be suitble?

      Marc, hope you pick up this thread and can contribute.

      1. profile avatar
        Fran Aug 01, 2012 - 09:58 #

        Everyone is an individual so you need to customize and of course check with your medical practitioner. For example, slow, steady bounces on the balls of your feet without lifting entirely from the rebounder will still give you the movement and positive benefits. Another example would be holding onto a railing while walking on the rebounder.

  20. profile avatar
    numan Aug 05, 2012 - 12:03 #

    Hi Marc,
    For the optimal fatloss and inclusion of hypertrophy as the main component of the workout, does that mean an individual is supposed create a calorie surplus in order to build muscle and in the process burn fat. Or should a calorie deficit be sustained?

    Thanks a bunch,

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Aug 09, 2012 - 13:04 #

      @Numan – check out these two articles which will answer your questions in depth – Can You Lose Fat and Build Muscle At The Same Time? and Top 3 Reasons To Lose Fat First Before Building Muscle.

  21. profile avatar
    aayush Sep 15, 2012 - 02:27 #

    sir MARC,
    you are the best teacher i have in my life, you are great.
    i can’t thank u from my words, but a great thankx from my heart.
    what a wonderful artical.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Sep 15, 2012 - 17:47 #

      @aayush – Thank you!

  22. profile avatar
    Jennifer Sep 17, 2012 - 23:35 #

    Hi, thanks for the great article, and your very helpful site. I am trying to find a good strength building rep type for quads. I want to be able to do more plyometrics at a higher level, do exercises that require stronger quads, and hope it would protect my joints somewhat. I have done a mix of lifting styles, including a variety of tempo and patterns (pulse, slow up and quicker down, etc.), at high intensity for a little over an hour 3x a week for the last several months, and though my upper body (mid abs and up) has gotten noticeable definition and improved strength, my lower body, especially the quads, hasn’t improved very much. I don’t know if doing high intensity cardio 5-6 days gets in the way, since quads don’t get much rest, but I don’t want to give that up because of the huge mood boost. BTW, I do weights earlier in the day when I end up doing both. Also, is there a difference in recovery time for high reps vs. low reps, like 48 vs. 72 hours, or is it all about intensity? This is probably too many questions, but any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Sep 20, 2012 - 19:58 #

      @Jennifer – I think using a couple rep ranges within one workout and manipulating the intensity of your leg workouts can definitely do the trick to help you increase your quad strength and endurance. In terms of improving definition and looking more toned, that’s simply a body fat issue that is typically best dealt with more precision around your nutrition regimen.

      I think you can consider something like (1) Squats, (2) Forward Lunges, and (3) Single Leg DB Deadlifts. Do these exercises as a circuit for 3 rounds using as much weight as you can so you can do each exercise for around 10 reps. I did this just yesterday and I can assure you I am feeling it right now and I was in a serious sweat. I ended up finishing my workout with sprinting and the workout literally took 20 minutes. You can do something similar where you choose a circuit of leg exercises while using relatively heavy weight, you don’t need to exercise for long. Than you can finish with some plyometrics at higher rep ranges to really get the burn going. Your legs should get very strong while still having high endurance. In terms of maximal strength, lower rep ranges around 3-5 is ideal, but the risk/reward ratio is a lot less favorable. Finally, 5-6 days of HIIT sounds like a lot of pounding, so I hope you are drinking plenty of water, stretching, and foam rolling. If you workout hard, you need to recover even harder!

      In terms of your last question about recovery and rep ranges, it’s all about intensity/volume, which I mention in the High Reps vs. Low Reps article.

      1. profile avatar
        Jennifer Sep 21, 2012 - 23:01 #

        Thanks, I’ll add the single leg DB deadlifts to my usual, and buy additional plates for my barbell for a better range. I’m building strength first, since my doctor doesn’t want me to lose more weight, and will try your program to take the fat off when I’ve got enough muscle. Your site made me stop trying to do both at the same time, and my husband and I really appreciate the help your site gives us.

      2. profile avatar
        Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Sep 26, 2012 - 09:52 #

        @Jennifer – That sounds great, Jennifer. Good luck!

  23. profile avatar
    steve purkey Sep 23, 2012 - 00:28 #

    Marc,hey there bud im going to tell u whats going on i did six years in the pin working out six days a week.Well im six foot and weight bout 280 im just big, kinda look like those guys on worlds strongest men.well i dont want to look like that i want to look more like a body builder.I dont know what else to do as u can imagaine i have worked out with hr and lr and every workout u can imagaine,ive ran and jump rope.I dont know what else to do u have any ideas on how to rip up.Im strong i squat 650 for one then go down to 405 for twenty thats trashing the legs.Thats just a start but i dont want to talk to much.I pretty much do a different muscle group every day till the hole body is trashed,that way its got bout a week to heal is that to much time.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Sep 29, 2012 - 16:59 #

      @steve purkey – I think a lot of guys including myself would love to have plenty of muscle and strength like you. It sounds to me like you should focus 100% of your energies on nutrition to get lean. You don’t get lean by just working out, it’s mostly eating. Check out this post on how to get ripped – How To Get Ripped & Cut: Definitive Guide. Good luck!

  24. profile avatar
    Mitchell Oct 10, 2012 - 18:48 #

    How about Reps of say 10 with weights but with bodyeight exercises hig reps.

    Example 10 reps for weight exercises like benchpress etc but as much reps as you can with push ups, sit ups, chin ups/pull ups and other body weight exercises.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Oct 11, 2012 - 19:24 #

      @Mithcell – That’s basically what I do and I think it’s sensible. With that said, you can oftentimes progress body weight exercises when they start to become easy. For example, doing different variations of pull ups.

  25. profile avatar
    donna Oct 14, 2012 - 06:05 #

    Hello, thanks for your article, it’s really helped me to understand more about high/low reps. I used to do pump and wasn’t really getting much definition so now understand why! Could you please clarify something for me? If I did 4 sets of 12 reps for each muscle group, my resting period between sets being a set on a different muscle group to make the best use of time (so around 1.5-2 minutes), would this achieve fat loss and hypertrophy? Or should I do 4 sets all in one go with just 30 seconds rest between sets then move onto the next muscle group? Thanks in advance.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Oct 18, 2012 - 17:32 #

      @donna – I’m a big fan of the former strategy for sure, which is technically called supersetting. Alternating exercises from let’s say push ups and pull ups is a much more efficient way to get better results in less time. You can even use 3, or more back to back with little rest in between each, then rest after all are done. For example, you can do an incline DB Bench Press, Body Rows, then Side Planks, so it’s a pushing movement, pulling movement, than core movement combination. Just giving you some ideas, good luck!

      1. profile avatar
        donna Oct 19, 2012 - 02:32 #

        Fab, thanks Marc, really appreciate your advice!

  26. profile avatar
    santosh Oct 19, 2012 - 08:35 #

    Is it better to workout for 3 sets with (12/10/8 reps) for a optimum workout.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Oct 19, 2012 - 20:36 #

      @santosh – I tried my best to answer that question in the article.

  27. profile avatar
    Ivan Boladian Oct 21, 2012 - 19:39 #

    Great Website, I would say you have hit the nail on its head.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Oct 25, 2012 - 16:21 #

      Thanks, Ivan. Much appreciated.

  28. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 02, 2017 - 23:06 #

    I’m still confused as hell so I’ll directly ask…

    I’m fat. I’m trying to not be fat anymore lol. I told you… Direct.

    I’m doing cardio, overhauled my eating etc and have introduced strength training at my local gym.
    My goal is weight-loss, muscle tone and fitness.

    So my workouts are as follows 3x a week for 90mins. (including cardio and cool down stretching)
    I use Life Fitness pin loaded machines for pretty much all of it.
    All upper body is 25-35kg weights 2 sets of 10 reps with 30 seconds rest between sets. 1 min rest between machines.
    It’s not quite the point of failure but I’m struggling to get through.
    Lower body ranges from 35kg-65kg, 2 sets of 12 reps. Again 30sec rest between sets, 1 min rest between machines.
    I then do 2x sets of 10 rep with 5kg free weights doing fly’s laying on a bench.

    Then I do 2 sets of 10 for the ab bench, 2 other weird ab benches 10kg (leaning over and lifting my torso/holding myself off the ground and lift my knees to my chest) plus kneeling on the ground weighted forward bends at 35kg on the TX machine with free rope over my shoulders.

    I’m scared I’m bulking when I want to be burning?
    I know bigger muscles burn more fat…. but I don’t wanna be she hulk

    1. profile avatar
      Kristin Jan 03, 2017 - 12:16 #

      Hi Heather – if you want to lose fat, nutrition is going to have the biggest impact on your results. It’s great that you’re working out by doing a combination of cardio and strength training, but you also need to look at what you’re eating.

      In order to lose fat, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn. I would recommend getting an idea of what your daily calorie intake is right now by logging your food in an app like MyFitnessPal for at least 3 days. This will inform you about your current calorie intake, so that you can determine a good calorie range for weight loss.

      I recommend keeping your calorie deficit small – around 250-300 calories fewer than you currently eat per day. Continue to strength train and do cardio. Monitor your progress. If you start to see weight loss, then keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re not seeing progress, then decrease your daily calories by another 250 per day (for a total of a 500 calorie deficit).

      Weight loss and body transformations are a journey, and taking the slow road is often better for long-term results. Avoid restrictive diets and extreme solutions. These approaches usually yield fast results at first, but typically backfire when you stop following them. Think more about daily habits that you can stick with for the rest of your life. How can you eat a little bit healthier every day? What can you do to be a little more active this week? Asking yourself these questions, and gradually implementing lifestyle changes is the best way to get a lean, strong, and healthy body.

      I hope that helps! If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  29. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 03, 2017 - 13:35 #

    no it didn’t help.
    Because after all that writing you still didn’t address the question I asked.
    I simply asked for advice on my actual working out that I detailed explicitly.
    I very clearly asked if I’m working out right to assist in fat burning not bulking.

    I’ve already got the nutrition side sorted with a nutritionist.
    So I’m OK there.
    Please answer my question properly not what you think I am asking. But what I’m actually asking.

  30. profile avatar
    Ginsling Jan 03, 2017 - 14:04 #

    @ Heather:

    You mention your weight amounts and reps – suggest that you add in another set so aiming for 3 sets of 10 reps, then try to increase the weight (and if necessary drop back to two sets when you do this). I do heavier weights for only two sets (with 8 reps) aiming for strength (I’ve no chance of bulking up at age 50, female, and only weighing 53kg). I would also suggest you try running or rowing or swimming for at least 45 minutes 3 times per week with your heart rate at 60% of your max heart rate (and that will give you better results if you know your real max rather than the 220 minus your age one-size-fits-none formula).

    For the record, I train for ultra marathons, so run anywhere from 80-100+ km per week, and I don’t lose muscle mass because of both the strength training, the type of interval training I do, and taking in a lot of clean protein (ps I’m vegetarian). I don’t worry about calories, and I carb-restrict as well.

    Hope that helps – but it’s only n=1.

  31. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 03, 2017 - 14:09 #

    stop with the nutrition advise people and answer the question!

    Look at my gym plan.
    My goal is to lose weight (nutrition side is sorted)
    I’ve been told I’m doing strength training.

    After reading this article am I doing the right kind of strength training (high weights with low reps) to assist in fat loss…

    Or should I be doing the high reps and low weights for fat loss?

    Please please just answer the question directly

  32. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 03, 2017 - 14:20 #

    I’m going to try get the answer again…

    OK so if you read the article above you’ll have seen it talk about one kind of working out building muscle and the other kind strengthening muscle.

    I am doing low reps with high weights. Which one is this going to do?
    Build or strengthen.
    Without any further nutrition advise or your personal plan and story attached…please tell me which one of those two I should be aiming for to maximise fat loss?

    Nb…I’m already eating well. I’m already doing cardio. I’m already stretching resting and drinking water.
    Please just tell me… If I’m doing low reps and high weights am I strengthening or building muscle and again…. which one of those should I be doing to assist fat loss NOT bulking up.

    I hope this is clearer.

  33. profile avatar
    Ahmed Hassan Jan 04, 2017 - 18:18 #

    How about doing 1 month of low reps (3 sets of 5 each)- heavy wts (90% of 1rep max ) followed by 1 month of high reps(10-12) – lighter weights(70-80% of 1 rep max) ?

    1. profile avatar
      Kristin Jan 04, 2017 - 18:58 #

      That’s definitely a great way to continue to challenge your body. I would recommend flipping the model, though. Start with higher reps and moderate weight for 1 month, then transition to lower reps and heavier weights. This will help prep your body for the increased load, and can help make you more injury resistant. You want to teach your body to master the movement pattern before you challenge it with more load.
      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

      1. profile avatar
        Hassan Jan 05, 2017 - 05:54 #

        Thanks Kristin for your reply and advice , yes I been lifting on light/moderate weights , high reps of 10-15 for almost 1 year , I gained muscles initially then I reached a plateau , before a friend suggested this 1 month-1 month alteration so now I have been doing 2 weeks on this heavy lifting and I think I’m gaining more muscles(scale is going up) hopefully it’s not just fat from the reduced calories spend per day as I know high rep would burn more calories than what I’m doing now , do u have any ideas to overcome platues , I’m 81 KG , 178 CM @ 8.5% BF

      2. profile avatar
        Kristin Jan 05, 2017 - 13:02 #

        I think you’re on the right track in terms of overcoming plateaus. A big part of continually seeing progress is knowing when it’s time to switch up your workouts. Our bodies adapt to a specific workout routine after about 4-6 weeks. Then, you’ll want to re-evaluate your workout program, and find a way to increase the challenge. Alternating between higher reps & lower weights for 4 weeks, and lower reps & higher weights for 4 weeks is one great way to do that. You’ll probably find that you’re stronger and can lift more weight with ease when you return to higher rep sets after lifting heavy for awhile.

        I also think it’s important to identify what your primary workout goal is. Do you want to build muscle, or lose fat. We don’t recommend trying to do both at the same time. Reason being, they require different nutritional strategies. Your primary workout goal will also help you determine the best workout approach to see the results you want. Keep up the good work, and let us know how your new workout strategy is going for you.

        -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

      3. profile avatar
        Ahmed Hassan Jan 06, 2017 - 14:44 #

        Hi again Kristin , I did a fat % test today and I have found out that during this past 2 weeks ,heavy weight – low rep training, I gained 1.7% fat.I was 8.5% before i start and now I’m 10.2% , do u think this is normal for this routine because of the low rep range would for sure lower the calories expenditure during the workout? I think I should slightly reduce daily calorie intake during while im following this workout routine , shouldn’t I? sorry for the many questions 🙂

  34. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 04, 2017 - 19:08 #

    But I’ve been doing the heavy weights and low reps (10 per set) for 2mths 3x a week. So I don’t need to transition into it.
    But, do I need to go slowly on how I decrease the weights?
    Say drop 5kg each time until I’ve dropped half the total over a month… Or can I just start low weight high reps tonight?
    Annnnd…how many reps make it high? I’m already doing 10 so would 15 be enough or should I go higher?

    1. profile avatar
      Kristin Jan 05, 2017 - 12:55 #

      Hey Heather – I would consider 10-15 reps to be in the higher range. Lower reps tend to be in the 3-6 rep range, which is more about increasing your muscular strength. I would actually recommend that you do the opposite. Instead of trying to go higher rep, increase your weights and do lower rep. For example, for the next 3-4 week, work in the 6-8 rep range. Going super heavy (in the 3-5 rep range) is pretty advanced and comes with higher risk of injury. I would only play around with that rep range if you’re working with a strength coach or trainer. You’ll want to be 100% certain you’re doing your exercises with perfect form & technique when lifting that much weight.

      After lifting in the 6-8 rep range for a few weeks, you can return to the 10-15 rep range. You’ll probably find that you can comfortably lift more weights this time. Give that at try, and let us know how it goes for you!

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  35. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 05, 2017 - 16:11 #

    And going that way, 6-8 would I do 2 or 3 sets?

    that’s for weight loss not making me the hulk right?

    Thanks this is good stuff

    1. profile avatar
      Kristin Jan 05, 2017 - 16:55 #

      If fat & weight loss is your goal, you’ll want to eat a calorie reduced diet. As long as you’re eating fewer calories than you burn, you shouldn’t put on bulk. That said, you’re the best gauge of your body and how it responds to your workouts. Some women do build muscle easier than others. If you tend to fall more in that category, then pay attention to how your body is responding to your workouts. If you’re not seeing the results you want, then switch up your workout program.

      Now, as for your question, you could do either 2 or 3 sets. Take enough rest between sets to recovery adequately. The point here is max strength, so rest is key. Try it out, and let me know how it goes for you!

      -Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor

  36. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 05, 2017 - 17:03 #

    Brilliant thanks!!
    Off to the gym now for my final workout of the week. So will try this see how it feels!
    Yes definitely eating clean. Although I don’t buy into low fat products. I just substitute for naturally lower in fat items. Eg.. Cream for coconut milk… Sugar for stevia… cream cheese for cottage etc.
    I’m always worried about what synthetic crap goes into low fat stuff.
    I eat high protein, low carbs low sugar and make a point of eating my “rainbow” of veges/fruit with each meal.
    So, every meal has to have at least 4 colour mixes.
    I try to eat all 7 colours throughout the day.
    OK so last question before I head off…
    Abdomin workout…same theory as above? 6-8?
    Or because it’s mostly Swiss ball or floor work do I go for high reps?

    And what is L-cartinine?
    Should I use?

  37. profile avatar
    Heather Jan 06, 2017 - 00:13 #

    hey Kristen,

    So I did the low reps of 8 x2 sets higher weights.
    Weird fail.
    During the workout yes it was really hard in a different way.
    But..i am now experiencing no muscle pump or tension only an hour later.
    So I got to the point of failure faster with heavier weights but it does not have that cool burn and swelling after that makes you know it’s been worked.
    So I’ll try 3 sets of 8 on Monday and see if that’s better.
    Otherwise I’m guessing 10 is my magic number?
    I’m lifting 45kg with arms and 75kg with legs.
    I like that pain after. Feels weird to have no muscle pump at all when I was red in the face panting doing it

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