Most people realize the importance of having muscle. Not only for vanity purposes, but to stay healthy and independent as you age. Strength training has numerous benefits, but you will only see those benefits if you strength train appropriately. You can’t expect just to “wing it” and see amazing results.

So to save you from wasting your time in the gym, I’m going to break it all down for you so you know exactly how to strength train for your specific goals. There are three main things that can happen when you strength train. Your muscles can grow in size (aka hypertrophy), your muscles can get stronger, and you can build muscular endurance. The outcome of your training all comes down to one thing…the amount of reps you do.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “reps”, it simply means the amount of times you perform an exercise in a row. So if you do 20 squats, rest, and then do another 20 squats, you have just done 2 sets of 20 reps. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to how you can accomplish these goals!

muscular girl in a gym with dumbbells

Goal #1: Muscle Strength

In order to focus on solely getting stronger and being able to lift heavier weights over time, you want to focus on doing 1-5 reps at a time. This means you will be lifting a heavy weight for just a few reps. Since the weight will be heavy, you will need to recover about 2+ minutes in between sets.

Goal #2: Muscle Growth

If your goal is to see your muscles grow in size, then you want to focus on doing 8-12 reps at a time. This means that you will be lifting a moderately heavy weight for a moderate amount of reps. You can rest anywhere from 60-90 seconds between sets.

Goal #3: Muscle Endurance

If your goal is to gain muscular endurance, meaning your muscles won’t fatigue as quickly, then you should focus on doing 15+ reps at a time. This means that you will be lifter a lighter weight for a high amount of reps. Since the weight isn’t too heavy, you should only rest 30-60 seconds between sets.

Which rep range is best?

There is no superior rep range to shoot for. I personally love varying the rep ranges every few weeks or so in order to really maximize my results and help my muscles continue to respond to my training. If you are just starting out with strength training, feel free to start with a rep range of about 15 until you get comfortable with the exercises. I wouldn’t recommend starting out with a rep range of 1-5 until you are more of an intermediate or advance weight lifter, as there is more room for injury with heavier weights. If you’re following the prescribed rep ranges and rest durations above and you still aren’t seeing the results you want, then it’s time to analyze your diet. I highly recommend macro tracking as a way to reach your physique goals yet still have some flexibility in your diet to eat the foods you love. Check out the Macro Magic e-course to become a macro tracking pro in just 14 days!

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