!-- How Many Reps Should I Do?
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How Many Reps Should I Do?

To begin with, let's define clearly what you want to change about the appearance, or condition of your body currently. Also, be honest with yourself if you're at a beginner, intermediate or an advanced training level.

First, if you're trying to add muscle mass to your body most of your sets should be in the 4 -6 reps. Since the early days of "Arnold" ruling the world of professional bodybuilding the rule was "push maximum weight as many times as you can." From my own experience, having competed 10 years ago in Colorado amateur events, this does have merit in bulking you up and becoming stronger. There are risks involved with this heavy lifting technique including possible torn muscles, ligament tears and joint injury. I implore those of you into this form of lifting to have correct form and use a trusted spotter every time! Stretch often in all your training sessions.

Secondly, training in the 12 -15 reps set range, in theory, optimizes the building of greater energy stores and/or new myofibrils or "One of the threadlike longitudinal fibrils occurring in a skeletal or cardiac muscle fiber." Yes, new muscle which when multiplied by many workouts burns stored body fat, promotes better sleep patterns and overall energy increases. Enough said right? Strict form is just as important here as in the 4 -6 range for all the same reasons. I tell my clients daily, "I'd rather you do five correct reps than 20 poor ones."

The third concept is training in the 20 - 25 reps range. As the Fitness industry has evolved over the last ten years this range of exercise reps seems to give, again in theory, an optimizing effect in the building of greater energy stores. The answer, by performing these reps under continuous tension more energy is depleted, thus resulting in super compensation, or an increase of stored energy. Short version: you make more stored energy in your muscle cells. Over the past 25 years as a Certified Fitness Trainer, working with over 4,000 clients I have trained maybe 5% in the 4 -6 rep style, 40% in 12 -15% and the remainder with 20 reps or more per set.

No matter which resistance training program you're on currently you must get enough rest, adequate protein intake daily, plenty of water and enough calories for your body to function properly. Talk to your Professional Trainer or dietician about the number of calories your body needs to perform at work, resting or in the gym. There is really no accurate range of calorie consumption that's broad based and accurate enough to put us into categories. Folks, please don't put your confidence in on-line body fat calculators or calorie scales!

Recently, just for kicks, I entered my current weight, height and age to be told I was overweight with a dangerously high BMI of 31(body mass indicator). Funny indeed as my true weight is 206, height 6' 1/2", 8.4% body fat, 15 BMI at 60 years old! My personal workout include all three of the styles spoken about here.

It's never too late to change your sedentary lifestyle and add good quality time to your life. So get off the sofa and into the gym!

My best to each of your in your ongoing pursuit of a more toned, stronger body.

Bill McGinnis is an NFPT-certified Master Fitness Trainer, and trains exclusively at the University of Texas Medical Brach Alumni Field House on Galveston Island, TX. He has over 24 years in the Fitness Industry, including work as the Men's Fitness Trainer at the Betty Ford Center and as a Fitness Manager in Southern California. He currently specializes in training older clients for balance, strength, endurance, golf, tennis and an improved quality of life. He can be contacted through his web site, www.ProFitness4Life.biz, for distance training programs online.

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Comments (1)Add Comment
written by swimmer, December 03, 2010
Again, another great article by Mr. McGinnis. I have worked out in the pool since I was four years old, and started weight Training in high school, and have continued since. Almost all of my workouts are four sets of 8-10 reps.It was interesting to read this artile with science backing it. I have shared Bill's article's with all of my friends, and have got very positive feed back. Girlfriend is now on Bill's 12-15 rep advice. Great article.

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