"Another Reason Why High Reps Build Muscle Fast"

I’ve been writing a lot lately on why high reps build muscle fast when compared to training with a lower amount of reps for heavier weight.

I touched on this topic in my article “To Gain Muscle Weight, Go For The Burn”.

Basically, there is more and more evidence pointing to the conclusion that if you want to gain weight and mass naturally, using higher reps in your training is going to get you there much faster than lifting heavier weight for a lower amount of reps per set.

Now, as you may already know, this is a big debate in the bodybuiding / fitness community. 

Some weight lifters feel that going heavy for single digit reps is what’s going to build muscle mass. 

Yet, many others believe the exact opposite:  that lighter weights for double digit reps is the way to go.

Well, many un-biased scientists are starting to also feel this way, that lighter weights for higher reps to build muscle mass (not strength….these are two totally different things, even though most people think that size and strength go hand in hand) is the way to go.

Here’s just one more proof of this in the ever-growing list:

Baylor University just conducted a study, which some have referenced it as “Resistance exercise intensity does not differentially affect skeletal muscle myostatin gene expression but does increase serum myostatin propeptide levels.”.

In this study, they took a group of weight trainers and had them go through several leg workouts.

What they did was perform exercises like the leg press and the leg extension.

However, they did each exercise 1 leg at a time.

For both legs they had them perform the same amount of sets and exercises, but on one leg they had them perform sets of 6 reps, and the other leg sets of 20 reps.

The scientists then took blood samples and muscle biopsies of each leg after every workout training session.

What did they find?

They discovered that the leg that performed the sets of 6 reps (low reps / heavier weight) had 3 times higher the amount of myostatin than the leg that performed sets of 20 reps (high reps / lighter weight).

“What’s myostatin?”, you may be asking.

Myostatin is a protein that limits the amount of growth in muscle tissue and fibers.

The higher the amount of myostatin in a muscle, the less amount of size it can gain.

So, obviously, if gaining weight and building muscle mass is our goal, myostatin is our enemy.

We don’t want raised levels of this protein!

So, according to this study, training with heavier weights for lower reps raises the levels of myostatin in the muscle being trained 3 times higher than lower weight for higher reps, resulting in limited growth.

And, let’s be honest here.  Chances are that if you are bodybuilder / weight trainer, and are reading this article and site, then your main goal is to build muscle fast.

Yet, following the myth that heavy weight for low reps is for mass could be exactly why you may not be seeing the results in the mirror that you were hoping for.

(Make an honest evaluation of your current workout routine, take a look at your own physique, and see if this is the case with you).

This is also another probable reason why powerlifters and Olympic lifters (which train with heavy weights for low reps) don’t have anywhere near the type of muscular development that a bodybuilder has.

Remember, we’re talking about building muscle mass and gaining weight naturally, not strength.

Guess high reps isn’t the bad guy after all.


Certified ACE / IAFF / IAFC Firefighter Peer Fitness Trainer

JP has written many articles exposing the many bodybuilding workout routines and diet myths being spread about in the fitness industry and on the internet. His eBook, "From Skinny To Muscular!", has helped many naturally skinny individuals gain muscle size and weight by detailing the training strategies and eating techniques that actually work at building muscle, instead of strength.

Many of JP's other articles are located at www.FromSkinnyToMuscular.com/articles.html.

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