Is There a Difference Between High Reps & Low Sets versus Low Reps & High Sets?
What is the difference between high sets and low reps versus low sets and high reps in weightlifting?
“High resistance low repetitions=strength training=muscle hypertrophy=increase in muscle definition/size/improvement in shape.
It also utilizes an energy system namely anaerobic/glycolytic/lactic acid system of energy production. This means energy (ATPs) is produced in a relative lack of Oxygen. The body goes into Oxygen debt, which it tries to recover post-exercise. Hence with this type of training, calorie consumption continues at an accelerated rate even after you are done working out. Loading muscles with higher weights leads to increment in size owing to the 'Overloading Principle' of exercise training.
Low resistance high repetitions=endurance training=improved muscle resistance to fatigue=improved muscle capability to hold contractions longer=more postural control=improved body biomechanics.
The energy system used here is called 'The Kreb's Cycle' wherein ATPs are produced mostly in presence of Oxygen. This means faster and less painful recovery (because Lactic Acid does not fill up muscle tissues as much). It also means keeping the heart rate at an elevated level longer, breathing above resting-level lung volumes longer. This trains the cardiopulmonary system better.
The former system of training develops power and strength in muscle, leans more towards the body building aspect of training. The latter trains muscle endurance, targets multiple systems of the body and is less stressful on the body. But it does not give you the shape or the muscle definition, if that's what you are looking for.”
“high sets and low rep is probably more for power and strength building.
Power lifters typically do 1-3 reps per set and you would do 5 to 8 sets.
The focus for this type of training is more for muscle fiber growth so you can be stronger. You won't look as big as body builders but you can be much stronger compared to some really big looking bodybuilders.
This type of training is very injury prone.
High rep and low sets are more for muscle size growth. Body builders typically train this way. This is more of a high volume training and it is aimed to breakdown the exterior of muscle tissue so it can get bigger however muscle fibers are not as dense as powerlifters.
This type of training is more for aesthetics rather than function. You will get stronger as your training age is longer and you lift heavier but won't be as strong as a powerlifter.
Hopefully this helps.”
“Let's understand the relation between the weights you use and your training goals
- If you want to focus on strength, you need to lift heavy weights for 1 to 4 reps.
- If you want to focus on increasing muscle size, you need to lift moderate weights for 10 to 12 reps.
- If you want to focus on increasing muscle endurance, you need to lift light weights for 16+ reps.
These modes of training can actually be combined into a single workout. That is you can train for strength, muscle size, and endurance in the same workout.”
Difference Between Low Rep High Weight Workouts and High Rep Low Weight Workouts
You've probably seen a variety of workout styles during your time as a fitness enthusiast. While you may have a difference of opinion with your workout partner on which triceps exercise is better, high-rep or low-rep workouts shouldn't be a debated issue. High-rep and low-rep workouts each offer benefits that the other workout doesn't offer, so make sure your range provides the benefits you want.
Everyone Likes Power
If you train with a low-rep, high-weight routine, each set has you lifting the weight between two and six times. If you are focused on strength, your range is two to six reps per set, while power lifters aim for two to five reps. Both strength and power lifters focus on multijoint exercises and a faster speed when lifting -- one second up and one second down. Multijoint exercises let you work multiple muscles at one time to achieve the highest power output. Examples of multijoint exercises are the clean-and-jerk and the deadlift.
Right Square in the Middle
If you are lifting for muscular growth -- hypertrophy -- you use between six and 12 reps, while advanced lifters train between six and eight. Hypertrophy training is right in the middle of low-rep, high-weight and high-rep, low-weight routines. Use a combination of multijoint and single-joint exercises for your routine to focus on specific muscle groups. Your leg routine may involve the multijoint barbell squat and the single-joint machine leg extension.
A Bunch of Reps
High-rep, low-weight workouts are designed to increase aerobic power and muscular endurance, and increase the time you can exercise before exhaustion. High-rep, low-weight workouts use between 15 and 20 repetitions and focus on multijoint and single-joint exercises. If you are doing high-rep, low-weight workouts, your focus is on enhancing your performance in a cardiovascular exercise such as running or cycling.
A Few Good Tips
When training at low-rep, high-weight intensity, cardiovascular training normally goes to the back burner. According to a 2009 study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," men who combined resistance training with cycling or running didn't gain strength or hypertrophy as quickly as men focused only on resistance training. While low-rep, high-weight routines are good for untrained exercise enthusiasts, advanced enthusiasts showed more improvement on the rower with low-rep, high-weight routines than high-rep, low-weight, according to a 2004 study published in the "Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research."
Light Weight High Reps – Horrible Advice For Increasing Muscle Tone
What do the following 2 things have in common:
1) Lifting light weights for high reps will increase muscle tone
2) Taking penis enlargement pills will make your penis bigger
Well the answer is that they’re both flat out lies. We want to believe they work and only use them because we’re told so by so-called “experts.”
But in the end, lifting lights weights for high reps is not the answer for muscle tone. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as I’ll soon reveal.
And for all my female readers out there, I’m sorry I had to drag penises into the conversation. But lets face it, penises are funny. And no, I have never used penis enlargement pills (we all know those are a scam).
Miranda Kerr has very nice um…. muscle tone
Lifting light weights for high reps only pumps up your muscles
If you’ve ever lifted light weights for high reps, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whenever you lift weights in this matter, the only thing that happens is that your muscles get a really good pump.
This is why guys love to do endless sets of dumbbell curls for 15-20 reps, because it gives them a pump and makes their arms look extremely tight and muscular. But this is only temporary, and only happens due to the build up of blood and lactic acid in your muscles.
This pump will make you look leaner and more muscular than you actually are. But after about 1-2 hours, that pump goes away and your back to looking like normal. Sound familiar?
So how do I get more toned?
The only way to increase muscle tone and definition is to lift heavy weights.
There’s really no other way around it.
But I don’t want to get bigger, I just want to get more toned
I hear you. But lifting light weights like a little pussy isn’t going to make that happen. So how do you increase muscle tone permanently without getting bigger? Just follow the strategy below:
- For any exercise, pick a weight that you can only lift for 6 reps. No more, no less.
- Lift that weight for only 4-5 reps. Stop 1-2 reps short of failure.
So for example, let’s choose an exercise like the bench press. If you can lift 135 pounds for 6 reps, then you would only do 135 pounds for 4-5 reps. This will allow the muscle to contract harder since you’re lifting a heavier weight, and the harder your muscle contracts, the more muscle tone it will display.
And by stopping short of failure, it will be very hard to induce any sort of muscle gain.
Will this work for women too?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, woman, or dog.
Lifting weights in this manner will work either way. This is especially great for women if they are aiming to look slim and feminine and not overly bulky.
This is different than what you read in magazines
If you read magazines like Shape or if you watch shows like The Biggest Loser, then lifting weights in this manner is going to require a leap of faith.
But if you truly want to build an impressive looking physique, then you need to sculpt your body, and the only way to sculpt your body is by lifting heavy weights every now and then.
The light weight – high rep myth
If you think that doing a lot of reps with low weights will give you that shredded look, think again.
After all these years it is hard to believe that the myth is still around. A lot of young lifters, girls and an equal number of trainers often ask me the same question. Now, it is kind of easy to think that lifting light weights for plethora of reps would give you that shredded look.
What you could find in a number of gyms would be a scene in which only one odd guy would be lifting some decent weights and you would be lucky if you could spot a girl lifting some weights worth mentioning.
You could often see women with 5-10 lbs (2.2 kg – 4.5 kg) of pink dumbbells doing 25 reps for the same isolation exercises. I often ask them one question, does the heavy stuff like buckets of water, bags of ration and even your small kid which you lift everyday or yourancestors used to do for millions of years weigh 5-10 lbs (2.2 kg – 4.5 kg)? then what made you think these dumbbells will give you strength to do even your daily activities?
The idea that is floating around is that high reps burn more fat and make the muscle ‘toned’ whereas low reps build heavy muscle and make you bulky.
It is said that the origination of this myth came from bodybuilders who before a competition go on a calorie restrictive (especially low carbohydrate) diet which makes them weak and they are unable to do heavy lifting.
Building muscle is a complex process and a result of many physiological mechanisms in the body. In order to stimulate your muscles in the most efficient manner, you need to give them variety of stimuli in training, which means variation in reps, tempo, volume, frequency, different lifting techniques etc. So, the solution lies somewhere in the middle i.e. the base of your training should always be to lift heavier because that is the basic principle of exercise physiology. The ‘principle of progressive overload’ comes into play, which simply means that to grow you have to progressively overload your muscles i.e. lift heavier and heavier over time.
The role of medium and high reps
However, medium and high reps also play a crucial role in this by working on both the ends of the spectrum where on one end you target type 1 muscle fibers (slow twitch) on any given day and to not only stimulate the whole range of muscle fibers but also give your body adequate recovery by giving the muscles a break from heavy lifting. On the other end, these medium and light weights when combined with heavy weights during a drop set (where you are progressively making the weight lighter for a given set of reps without a break but due to cumulative fatigue ) are making the set much more difficult.
Lowering your body fat is not just due exercise. You can again consider both the ends in this case too where on one side are the powerlifters who lift the heaviest weights with ultra low reps are extremely bulky with tons of body fat and on the other end you have all these guys and gals who are lifting the same old colorful dumbbells for years without even an iota of improvement in their body composition.
Fat loss consists of many factors like nutrition, supplementation, genetics, environmental changes, psychological factors etc.
The difference between bulky and lean muscular is the amount of fat surrounding the body. Don’t picture pro bodybuilders in mind, they are on an inhumanly heavy dose of anabolics to grow to those proportions. A normal person to sustain that kind of training would need help of huge amounts of ergogenic aids like the pros do. But most of us are not pros. Check out a sample diet plan for weight loss.
If a completely sedentary person starts lifting weight then even light weights and high reps would help tone up the muscles a bit (toning means a degree of muscle contraction the muscle maintains even when the muscle is relaxed). The only way you will get cut up with high rep range is when you are eating much less calories than you are burning. This is the same state in which most of the roadside laborers are. These laborers are digging together (high reps) for hrs without adequate food (calorie deficit). Don’t be surprised as many celebrities and anorexic models are worse.
The truth is that heavy weights in the range of 4-12 would give you that rock hard look you always desired and for girls that lean and fit look they dreamt of. All you have to do is take care of the nutrition part i.e. take lean protein, complex carbs, EFAs and loads of phytonutrients and other micro nutrients.
The science behind the facts
As per trainer Mark Perry, strength continuum is defined as a framework where strength and endurance exists on a continuum that defines the relationship between weight, reps, and training outcome. Strength is represented by the 1 RM (rep max) i.e. the max weight that can be lifted for 1 rep and endurance is the ability to exert a low force repeatedly over time.
As the range increases there is a gradual transition from strength to endurance.
REP PER SET
It was seen that intensity of the workout matters more than high rep or low rep. The problem here is that most of the guys and gals lifting light weights have actually never experienced high intensity workouts even with lighter weights. Try doing 20 reps with even 60% of your 1RM and you will come to know what I am talking about.
The aim is to increase the TUT (time under tension) of the muscle to have those metabolic changes in the body. Another issue is that the same novices do not really know such concepts and have actually never experienced muscle failure during a workout even after months and years of exercising and so they never see results. In the name of light weights they lift weights so light that the muscles are hardly stimulated, infact their dumbbells and barbells are flying all over the place during a movement because they are not able to even feel the weight.
Once you are on a clean diet and with slight calorie deficit and heavy lifting, you will not build muscle size, but only get toned and have an increase in strength purely due neuromuscular adaptation. To have lean muscular physique keep around 60-70% of your training in the 6-15 rep range, 20% in 2-5 reps range and 10% in >15 rep range (not counting the drop sets).
You cannot separate strength from hypertrophy
Beginners have to hold on to their wits as initially muscle mass increase may outpace fat burn, which may increase your weight for sometime in the beginning. But that is how your body adapts and overtime gives you the desired results. One thing you need to understand is that you cannot separate strength from hypertrophy. If you get stronger your muscle size would increase and vice versa. How shredded you look depends on the diet. Women will get stronger and shredded due lack of adequate testosterone. How much bigger you get depends on your genetics. So all those guys who tell that they are training to be skinny are actually weak and are simply not training.
‘Any program done hard, progressively and consistently with the volume and frequency appropriate for the individual will eventually get them as big and strong as their genetics will allow, but the ratio of strength to size gains will vary considerably between individuals.’, said Drew Baye.