More Reps or More Weight? What's Better for Muscle Growth?

Strength training has several health benefits, making it an ideal option to meet several fitness goals. Strength training is a viable option whether you're looking to build muscle or lose weight. But what's better for muscle growth: more reps or more weight? 

The key to answering this question is understanding the difference between strength training with more weight and lower reps versus less and higher intensity reps. Keep reading to find everything you need about strength training and the best approach for muscle growth. 

More Reps or More Weight? What to Consider 

So what's better for muscle growth? Will more reps or more weight help you achieve your fitness goals? Consider the following. 

What are Your Fitness Goals? 

First, determine your fitness goals. Building strength, increasing your muscle mass, and reducing body fat are all potential goals you can reach through strength training. Generally speaking, using heavy weights in a lower rep range increases muscle mass, while more reps with lighter weights can enhance muscle endurance. Always take an approach to strength training based on your ultimate goal. 

weight training reps

Developing the Right Mindset for Strength Training 

While choosing the proper exercise for your fitness goals is crucial, so is having the mindset to achieve these goals. You must remain focused, motivated, patient, and determined for effective results. Know your goal and remind yourself that anything is possible when you set your mind to it. 

Commit yourself to your strength training routine and remain consistent. Approaching strength training with a positive mindset and realistic expectations for your progress can help you stay focused on your end goal and accept any obstacles you encounter. While strength training might not be easy, it's incredibly rewarding and worthwhile for the dedicated fitness enthusiast. 

Low Reps With Heavier Weight 

The cornerstone of muscle building lies in the art of lifting heavy. This time-honored technique involves low repetitions and substantial weights, a practice cherished by powerlifters and competitive bodybuilders. By lifting weights at around 90-95% of their one-rep max with just 1 to 5 reps, they engage Type 2, or "fast twitch," muscle fibers.  

These fibers are pivotal for fostering strength and driving hypertrophy, the growth of muscle cells. This approach works by infusing muscles with the power to handle heavier loads, stimulating growth and development for a sculpted physique. 

However, there's a delicate balance to strike. Type 2 fibers are potent but quick to fatigue, and their growth hinges on time under tension. A more moderate method is 8 to 12 reps with weights hovering around 70-75% of your one-rep max. This approach sustains the tension needed for muscle fiber activation (hypertrophy), promoting strength and endurance. 

weight training with dumbells

High Reps With Lighter Weight 

Balancing high reps with a light weight level is another solution to promote muscle growth, but it has specific benefits for muscle endurance. Lowering the weight to around 50% of your one-rep maximum activates Type 1 fibers, called "slow-twitch" muscles.   

Slow twitch fibers are not as strong as fast twitch but fatigue much slower, thus increasing your endurance. While this method also increases muscle mass, it doesn't do so as quickly as lifting heavier weights with lower reps does. Depending on your ideal figure and fitness goals, you might prefer one option over the other, but both will contribute to building muscle somehow. 

Combining Both Techniques 

So what happens if you combine both techniques into your workout? In short, you shouldn't plan on doing this in a single workout session–but there's nothing wrong with having a schedule to alternate between the two methods periodically! 

It's important to remember that while lifting heavy weights helps promote muscle growth, it also causes fatigue.

Changing your workout routine and incorporating lighter weights and higher reps into another session helps your body adjust and recover without causing you to slack on your exercise journey. 

Switching up your routine ensures that your exercises remain exciting and fresh, and you stay energized with your typical workout session. If you're focused on muscle growth and primarily used to lifting heavy weights with low reps, a change can be effective to avoid injury when you reach your maximum weight-lifting limit. 

Another important consideration is knowing when to change things and revitalize your workout routine. It would be best to strategically plan routine changes, whether you change methods every other workout, every week, or every month.

As long as you stay consistent, you'll benefit from this combination. 

reps for strength training

Other Strength Training Considerations 

Building strength through effective strength training isn't limited to more reps or weight. Remember the following to freshen up your training routine, build endurance, and promote muscle growth. 

Rep Speed 

Rep speed is important when training strength to build muscle mass. Research has shown that a wide rep range, such as between 1 and 8 seconds, can maximize muscle growth, while training at slow speeds, such as more than 10 seconds per rep, reduces the exercise's effectiveness. 

Decreased Rest Between Sets 

If you struggle to reach your muscle growth goals, the amount of time you spend resting between sets might be the culprit. Lowering your time spent resting between sets can help you enhance your muscle size, reaching your fitness goals easier.

When exercising to build muscle mass, you shouldn't exceed two minutes of rest between sets, and to enhance endurance, you should only rest for 90 seconds between sets. The less time spent resting, the better to maximize growth.  

Changing Your Exercise Order 

Switching up your workout order is another strategy to promote muscle growth. Doing this keeps your routine exciting and helps you remain invested in your workout and fitness goals.

Depending on what exercises you do during a typical workout session, consider starting and ending with different exercises or incorporating new activities into your routine that you haven't tried before. Mixing things up means you won't get bored of your routine anytime soon. 

Using Different Types of Weights 

If something about your workout isn't clicking, it could be because of the types of weights you're using. If you typically lift heavier weights to enhance your arms' muscle mass, you might try to lift lighter weights to tone your arms and build endurance.  

BAC weights

 If you want to stick with heavier weights, you might switch from dumbbells to barbells and experiment with adding weight plates, resistance bands, or kettle balls. The bottom line is that there are plenty of options regarding weight types, so take your time to explore! 

Start Your Fitness Journey With Chicago Athletic Clubs 

Strength training has incredible benefits, making it a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts looking to enhance their muscle mass and build endurance. Depending on your goals, you can approach strength training differently. 

Starting your fitness journey requires a reliable place to maximize your exercise. Chicago Athletic Club provides the best fitness facilities across Chicago to ensure you get a thorough workout and can achieve your fitness goals. Find a location near you and become a member today to embark on the journey.