Is this you? Are you confused about how many reps to do to achieve your particular goals? People will try and tell you the 'right' answer but the fact is they just have different outcomes.
I'm going to quickly run through High, medium and low reps and explain the pros and cons for you to decide how you want to be training and why.
15 or more reps can be tough. If you're unaccustomed to training in this zone, you'll find your muscles fatigue quickly, and 10kg starts to feel more like 100kg by the final rep.
Sets that stretch past 15 reps, though, have one major drawback: The amount of weight you can handle isn't heavy enough to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers. So what, you ask? Simply put, these fibers are where you have the potential for grow and they respond to heavy weights at least 75 percent of your one-rep max.
High-rep training is, however, an excellent means of increasing muscular endurance. If you're after sports-specific adaptations such as a throwing arm for Cricket that can hold out for more than half a day or legs that will carry you to the finish line of a marathon high reps can help. But if size is what your after, high reps alone won't necessarily get it done.
8 to 12-rep sets. At roughly two seconds on the concentric (lifting) action and two seconds on the eccentric (lowering) movement, your set will end up smack dab in the middle of the optimum 30- to 60-second range.
Why is that range critical? Because when the set lasts longer than a few seconds, the body is forced to rely on the glycolytic-energy system, which leads to the formation of lactic acid. You may think of lactic acid as a bad thing, since it's mistakenly associated with the muscle ache you feel days after a workout, but that soreness is actually a very fleeting reaction that's vital to new muscle-tissue production.
When lactic acid, or lactate, pools in large amounts, it induces a surge in anabolic-hormone levels within the body, including the potent growth hormone and the big daddy of muscle-building, testosterone. These circulating hormones create a highly anabolic state within the body and if you're after more muscle, that's exactly the state you want to be in. Remember girls this wont quite have the same effect on you, and don't be scared by words like muscle growth.
The moderate-rep range, when coupled with a challenging weight, will also bring about a much-desired condition: the muscle pump. That tight, full feeling under the skin, caused by blood pooling in the muscle, has value beyond its ego-expanding qualities. Studies have demonstrated that the physiological conditions which lead to a pump activate protein synthesis and limit protein breakdown. Thus, more of the protein you eat goes toward muscle construction instead of being burned off for energy.
Low Rep Range
In weight training, one saying has stood the test of time: To get big, you have to get strong. Taking that to an extreme, many lifters adopt a powerlifting approach, coupling very heavy weights with low reps. Take a look around your gym, and you're likely to find an aspiring bodybuilder or two struggling through sets of squats or bench presses with weights at or near their one-rep maxes.
This method is a sure strength builder, and if you take a close look at any successful powerlifter, you'll notice the added mass in his frame. However, low-rep training has one significant shortcoming: Muscle-fiber stimulation, and thus growth, is correlated closely to the amount of time a muscle is under tension. Short, intense sets of 15 seconds or less will develop strength, but they simply aren't as effective in prodding a muscle to grow as sets of 30 to 60 seconds.
Plus, get it wrong and you are in trouble! make sure you have someone with you who knows what he/she is doing before attempting your 1 rep max!
In the final analysis, substantial evidence argues that training in a medium-rep range is the best way to build muscle mass and in turn enable the body to burn more calories. It increases hormone response, spares protein, and provides the necessary time under tension to spark muscle damage.
But does this mean you should store your low-rep and high-rep regimens away in the closet, Certainly not. To make sure your body doesn't adapt to a particular regimen and stagnate, you need variety. Cycle periods of low-rep training and high-rep training into your overall program, while progressively trying to increase your strength and perfect your exercise form every time you lift.
Try a strength phase for a month , followed by a medium rep phase for a month followed by an endurance maybe body weight section to keep things interesting.