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How many repetitions should I perform for good hypertrophy?

Muscle hypertrophy is necessary to grow muscle, know what are the number of appropriate repetitions that you must perform in your series to gain muscle.

We know that for the gain of muscle mass it is necessary to resort to a well-organized plan where training, good nutrition and rest can be perfectly balanced to obtain the most optimal results. From the beginning Mass M1x this already seems extremely complicated and the truth is that it is even more simply due to the fact that other factors such as genetics, hormone production, fiber types and a series of other factors influence muscle building. concepts worth explaining in different articles.

Feeding is the factor that plays the biggest part in this process, however, this does not mean that training or rest is not important. We can say that at least in this aspect, to gain lean mass it is necessary to undergo a caloric surplus, that is, consume more energy than the body requires for the muscles to grow. Carbohydrates and proteins are essential, as well as a break of eight hours a day to allow the correct recovery of the muscles.

But what about training? Is it enough to go to the gym five times a day and lift large loads to build muscle? The answer is yes… well, seeing it from a superficial perspective, because if we see it from a deeper point of view, we must understand that hypertrophy requires a combination of two components: Mechanical tension (TM) and metabolic stress (MS) .

The mechanical stress refers to the act of applying for a job on the muscle , forcing him to exert force to overcome. On the other hand, metabolic stress is the set of chemical reactions that develop on the muscle worked by undergoing mechanical stress, such as the accumulation of lactate, inflammation, presence of free radicals, hypoxia, among others. Together, these two aspects, on a physical level, that is, that are produced by the training performed, are what will allow to obtain greater lean mass gains.

Although they are closely related, since without mechanical stress there can be no metabolic stress, it is also necessary to understand that they can be considered as opposite poles, since an excess of mechanical tension would prevent the muscle from performing much less effective work, so that with it Metabolic stress could not occur at its best.

This clearly means that for the gain of muscle mass it is important to find a perfect balance between TM and MS . And it is precisely because of this that depending on the objective in mind, you must work with a different number of repetitions and weights in the loads. That is to say:


For strength gain: Reduced repetitions (between 3 and 5) with high loads, greater than 85% of the 1RM.

For muscle gain : Moderate repetitions (8-12) with intermediate loads (60-85% of 1RM)

For the development of muscular endurance : High repetitions (between 15 and 20) with reduced loads (less than 65% of the 1RM)

Until a few years ago many believed that excessive repetitions with reduced loads led to muscle toning. Several studies have refuted this statement, so it is now known that fat loss is achieved only with caloric deficit and there is no direct relationship between the loads lifted or the number of repetitions performed. Despite this, there are still athletes who firmly believe in this outdated method, so if you have a monitor or coach who says the same thing, it is best to find another with more training.

Before continuing to talk about the relationship between TM and MS, one must understand exactly what the concepts of strength, muscular endurance and hypertrophy refer to.

Strength vs. Muscle Resistance

We can define the muscle as a potential force. To better understand this, we can use the following analogy: Let’s look at the muscle as a formula-1 car on a busy road. Completely useless. To get the most out of the car, or in this case the muscle, a good track is required, but above all, an exceptional driver. We could say that the role of the driver is taken by the brain, so yes … strength is essence, a mental ability.

A person who has never trained has a low percentage of muscle mass and at the same time a low neuronal control. Due to the complexity of the body and the fact that the muscle demands a lot of energy to be able to maintain itself, before it can build more, the muscle will begin to use better the one it already has, because like everything else in this life, it is not about Know more, but know better.

It is thanks to this that in the beginning of a training the initial gains of strength are not linked to the increase of the musculature, but rather by neuronal connections, implying in a greater recruitment of the fibers, a better coordination and stabilization, inhibition of the antagonistic muscles, etc. It is in the medium term, when neuronal adaptations are no longer sufficient that the muscle begins to grow.

On the other hand, muscular endurance also depends on strength, since by applying basic physics concepts, endurance is the force applied to an object repeatedly. In this case, the neuronal part continues to play an important role, however, resistance depends even more on the body’s ability to supply energy to the muscle and reuse of lactate.

All this leads us to a conclusion: strength, like muscular endurance are physiological abilities. However, hypertrophy can be interpreted as an adaptation of the body in the face of the adversities represented by the lifting of high loads.

So what exactly is hypertrophy?

Superficially speaking, hypertrophy is the increase in the size of muscle fibers. These fibers are composed of hundreds of myofibrils, which are the true contractile units.

When performing strength training, the generation of new myofibrils is fostered while expanding existing ones. As a result, the muscle must become larger and therefore stronger. This is all about a process known as myofibrillar hypertrophy and largely explains the development of lean mass.

On the other hand, muscle fibers are composed of sarcoplasma that also expands with training, contributing to total hypertrophy. If the muscle needs more energy it can store more glycogen, as well as some non-contractile proteins, known as sarcoplasmic proteins. This whole process is known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

It is important to differentiate between both, since myofibrillar hypertrophy is produced by working with heavier loads, while performing a greater number of repetitions is conducive to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

However, it should also be clarified that many scientists question this theory, since there is no sustainable evidence to demonstrate that greater sarcoplasmic hypertrophy can be generated (compared to myofibrillar) only by the fact of training in one way or another, because in The practice is difficult to study and find the differences, since for this it is necessary to have large samples of muscle tissue to study after a workout and thus be able to analyze what happens inside. Unfortunately, there are not many volunteers who are willing to do this.

As already mentioned above, in order to maximize strength gains it is necessary to use fewer repetitions, while to improve muscle endurance more repetitions are made. However, when studying hypertrophy they begin to find a greater number of obstacles, as there are studies that reveal that in the highest range of repetitions per series (more than 20) although it is inefficient for muscle gain, it is not achieved find a big difference between the range of 3 and 5 repetitions per series or that of 9 and 11 repetitions in terms of hypertrophy, although it is confirmed that strength can be improved by training with more loads and fewer repetitions.

There are other studies that show maximizing hypertrophy working at 90% of the 1RM with repetitions of 3-5 in 4 series, compared to performing 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions at 70%, although the differences are minimal.

Not surprisingly, many athletes say that it is better to perform few repetitions in exercises that require large movements such as squats, bench presses, shoulder presses or deadlifts in order to have a better strength gain, but at the same time increase the hypertrophy because there is a greater mechanical tension, as well as protein synthesis. In fact, there are studies that support this theory.

However, this does not justify that these exercises should not be performed with high repetitions. Well, in the same way there are studies 1 , 2 , 3 that ensure that light loads carried to muscle failure can lead to very similar results at the level of hypertrophy.

So what is the relationship between failure and hypertrophy?

Theoretically, getting to muscle failure can be positive, because you can match the effort. Comparing 3 × 6 with 6 × 3 does not make much sense, since the differences are minimal, which makes it impossible to ignore the effort involved in each combination. By having a fixed load and performing repetitions until failure, more comparable results are achieved.

However, it should be taken into account that the failure is not always the most recommended for hypertrophy due to the two major drawbacks:

Risk of injury : By subjecting the muscle to maximum effort, greater fatigue is achieved, making the execution technique precarious, which increases the chances of suffering an injury. Refraining from repetition considerably reduces the risk and without harming progress.

Longer recovery time : Frequent muscle failure causes greater neuronal stress, which means a longer recovery time for the muscle and therefore a lower training frequency. This is clearly harmful, Mass M1x Reviews as one of the major bases of hypertrophy success is that as progress is made it is necessary to increase the intensity and frequency of the exercise so as not to stagnate.

Now, taking into account that similar or even the same results can be achieved at the level of hypertrophy and strength development without having to reach the fault, according to some studies 1 , 2 , 3 it is clear that it is best to avoid the risks, in Special when these outweigh the benefits.

However, it is also important to emphasize that the risks are especially applicable to exercises performed with a bar. Reaching muscle failure by performing chin ups or biceps curls does not involve so much stress or danger compared to other exercises. The series to the failure of these movements to conclude the training may be favorable for hypertrophy due to the additional metabolic stress that occurs.

In conclusion

Although in a simple way we can answer “it depends…” to the question “how many repetitions do I have to do to gain muscle”, it is best to understand that the physiological changes of the body are much more complex.

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