If you go into any gym, you’ll hear time and time again that low reps are for building muscle and high reps are for toning. It is a mantra that has somehow worked its way into the gym culture. While this is not necessarily untrue, there are benefits to doing both. If you leave out one of these, you will not be getting the full impact from your workout.
Working out is not as easy as some people try to make it seem. Building muscle is a balance and adding too much emphasis to either side will leave you unbalanced. Your body is composed of different types of muscles “fast twitch” and “slow twitch” muscles and both need to be worked.
High rep based exercises (reps between: 8-12) work slow twitch muscles the best. These slow twitch muscles are your endurance based muscles. They are slow to fatigue and are typically overlooked, but for people looking to add strength or size. These muscles are designed to withstand strain over a long period of time, but they are not only for endurance; these muscles have also been shown to help build muscle mass.
These smaller muscles are vital to work, because they take longer to fatigue the time you need to have these muscles under tension will be increased. You will be lowering your weight and going through the motion of the exercise slower, pushing your body to focus on the muscles being used. This stimulates hypertrophy of the muscle, aiding in significant muscular growth.
Low rep exercises (reps between 1-7) of course work the fast twitch muscles. Fast Twitch muscles are your body’s source of brute strength and tend to fatigue quickly. These are the muscles that you will see the power lifters working in the gym.
Low reps will also focus on making your nervous system more efficient. Since you are using heavier weight, you will be shocking your body’s stressor and will also up the tightness and focus needed to perform the exercise. Since you are doing lower reps, you will be using a heavier weight. This makes more motor units and muscle fibers being recruited to perform the exercise.
This will make your body’s strength increase. Which will lead to you moving those jaw dropping weights in the gym but just focusing on low reps will leave you lacking in both size and definition.
As you can tell by this point, both of these rep ranges help with different parts of your body. You will need to incorporate both into your workout to give you that well-rounded physique that everyone wants. Remember, a perfect workout routine incorporates all parts of your body and does not lack anywhere.