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Can You Build Muscle With Lower Reps?


Can You Build Muscle With Lower Reps?

Each month, we ask our panel of experts the questions you’ve been asking. This time we asked: most women do sets of 8-12 reps, but can you also build muscle with lower reps of, say, 4-6?


Noel Arevalo

Yes, you can build muscles with rep ranges of 4-6, but your intensity would have to be high (weight that you’re actually pushing). If you’re doing 4-6 reps of a weight that you can do for 20 sets, then that’s obviously too light.

Therefore your muscles are not being contracted or no adaptions will be happening so there’ll be no growth. You would see no progression in that case.


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Karina Baymiller

Yes. We’re taught that strength happens at 1-5 reps, hypertrophy at 6-12, and endurance at 15+. These are the optimal ranges for each adaptation (where the greatest strength/size/endurance is seen), but you will still experience other adaptations in their non-optimal rep range.


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Emily Duncan

Absolutely. I’ve found in my own experience that doing some work (particularly compound lifts) in what are seen as “strength-centric” rep ranges of five or lower at 85+%, while also doing some work in what are seen more so as “hypertrophy ranges” of 8-15 reps at lighter weights, is an extremely effective way to increase both lean mass and overall strength.


Brooke Erickson

Only if you do a high amount of sets in the rep range. That rep range is typically used for building strength, not to muscle hypertrophy.


Lacey Dunn

Yes, the best way to grow muscle is by incorporating all reps ranges. Reps of 4-6 typically are for strength athletes and help to build strength when volume is accounted for.

Increased strength can increase muscle mass. The best way to make sure that you are building muscle is to follow a progressive overload approach to training.


Taylor Chamberlain

Yes, just be sure that those 4-6 reps are heavy to ensure proper muscle stimulus and growth.


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