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high reps = mass & low reps=strength...fact or fiction?

Training discussion on high reps = mass & low reps=strength...fact or fiction?, within the Bodybuilding Forum; I've read and heard a lot that high rep ranges such as 10-15 lead to muscle size and tone, but ...


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Old 12-18-2006, 08:24 PM   #1
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Default high reps = mass & low reps=strength...fact or fiction?

I've read and heard a lot that high rep ranges such as 10-15 lead to muscle size and tone, but not quite as much strength. On the otherhand the low rep range such as 3-6 leads to greater strength but not much size and tone. I've also read that its not quite that clear cut and true. Can you guys put in your input from personal experience and well backed scientific research to clear this up?
Thanks!
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Old 12-19-2006, 02:37 AM   #2
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well i don't have 'scientific data' but i am pretty sure that 'toning' is more about how much your body fat percentage is, higher reps are for muscular endurance, and lower reps are for muscular strength. if there was one perfect method for hypertrophy, bodybuilding would be easy, but there isn't, as far as i know.

from what i've read and experienced, it is fairly effective to include higher and lower rep ranges in your routine. everything works, but nothing works forever.
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Old 12-19-2006, 05:46 AM   #3
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Typically, a lot of people fall into believing that "strength" is 5 reps and lower, and "hypertrophy" must be 8-12 reps. That's a bit too simplistic. Strength of course will have a range of anywhere from 1-5 reps because you're trying to build neural efficiency by driving the heavy weight up fast. Bearing that in mind, you can ALSO gain a significant amount of hypertrophy from 3-5 reps as well depending on how many sets you're doing. I used to love 10 sets x 3 reps with a good 70 seconds between sets. Here's an example of what I'm referring to:

Example:

275 lbs for 5 x 5 = 6,875 work output

200 lbs for 3 x 10 = 6,000 work output

Here's a very good thread showing how strength and mass are INDEED correlated:

Hypertrophy and Strength - Not so Different

--

Quote:
high rep ranges such as 10-15 lead to muscle size and tone
High reps do not shape and tone your muscles. That's a myth, and a popular one at that. I'll try to find the literature later..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Reynolds
A. Use of Neural Efficiency (as well as some Myofibral Hypertrophy) occurs in rep ranges of 1-3. (Neural Efficiency increases the percentage of motor units that can be activated at any given time. There is little to no effect on size but increases strength will be great. Little to no protein turnover occurs in this rep range as load is too high and mechanical work is too low.)

B. Mostly Myofibral and Sarcomere Hypertrophy and very little Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy occur with rep ranges of 3-5. (Sarcomere hypertrophy increases contractile proteins in muscle thereby increasing strength directly and also size. Book knowledge suggests that growth here will be mostly myofibral/ sarcomere hypertrophy and will be accompanied with strength gains in other rep ranges and improvements in neural efficiency. Therefore this is perhaps the best rep range for increasing strength. Better balance of load / work done for hypertrophy so no surprises there.)

C. Myofibral, Sarcomere, and Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy (lots of growth as well strength gain within this rep range with little transfer to 1rm) occur with rep ranges of 5-10. (Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy does not directly increase strength but can affect it by increasing tendon angle at the attachment - but of course it increases size.)

D. Some Sarcoplasmic with little Myofibral and Sarcomere Hypertrophy occur in rep ranges of 10-15. (More fatigue and a greater extent of waste products are associated with this rep range. Possible increase in capillary density.)

E. Capillary density increases with little Sarcoplasmic growth with rep ranges above 15. (Muscle endurace begins to become a factor (but who needs that?). Also, waste products are intense lactic acid buildup to the point of making some individuals sick.
^^ That's the popular descriptions which I'm sure you're referring to. However, as I've said above, depending on your set/rep scheme, you can still get a significant amount of hypertrophy with lowered reps and increased intensity. Examples such as 5 sets x 5 reps, 8-10 sets x 3 reps, ect all come to mind.

I grew my BIGGEST (262 lbs) from the rep range of 3-8 reps. In my experience, I would NOT worry about trying to apply 10-15 reps for everything thinking it'll induce hypertrophy more than a lower range of reps. The way I view it, certain muscles repond to different rep ranges better than others:

IME ->

Chest- 3-8 reps
Legs- 5-20 reps
Back Width- 10-12 reps
Back Thickness- 5-8 reps
Biceps- 10-20 reps
Triceps- 5-10

So for the absolute best results, you should do both rep ranges. There's two ways to do this:

1) Undulating Periodization (look up DFHT in DFT sticky) which uses many different rep ranges in a single workout.

Example:

- Flat Bench: 3 sets x 3-5 reps [heavy as you can handle]
- Incline DB: 2 sets x 10-12 reps
- Barbell Rows: 4 sets x 6 reps
ect....

2) Devote two mesocycles: One for high reps, one for low reps. A basic linnear periodization model. Something such as 4-6 weeks higher eschelon hypertrophy reps (3x10, 2x15, ect) followed by 4-6 weeks devoted for strength (5x5, 3x3, 1x5, ect) . Remember too that your 'strength' mesocycle will yield fantastic muscle gains.

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Old 12-19-2006, 09:14 AM   #4
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Tone as it's being used is "definition". Not really the same thing. Definition is a function of bodyfat, genetics, hydration, like JMonty said. So, like 0311 said high reps, despite the rampant belief in this, just won't lead to further definition, not in a magical way and not by burning more fat. The only way that it burns more fat is in a circuit routine or something along those lines. You wan't tone as most people describe it you have to go with diet and cardio.

Actual "tone" is a function of low reps and reps in the 10 to 15 range won't do anything in this regard. Tone is what makes muscles "hard". I don't mean hard from being "pumped" with blood, I mean hard from lots of neurons firing off all the time.

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If you act sanctimonious I will just list out your logical fallacies until you get pissed off and spew blasphemous remarks.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeFranco
Myth #1: Lifting light weights for high reps will "shape and tone" your muscles.

This is the grand daddy of all training myths! Somehow the aerobics, yoga and Pilate’s community have convinced us that when we perform bodyweight exercises or light resistance training for high reps, our muscles magically take on a beautiful shape without growing or bulging. On the other hand, if you challenge yourself with moderately heavy weights, your body will take on a bulky, unflattering appearance. If you believe this, you probably still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus!

Here are the facts. The main difference between a "lean and toned" physique and a "bulky" physique is the amount of body fat that surrounds your muscles! Basically, the "lean and toned" look that most people desire is a result of having muscle that isn’t hidden under layers of fat. And let’s not forget that the best way to build muscle is through strength training.

Generally speaking, this means challenging yourself with moderately heavy weights in the 6 to 15 rep range. It doesn’t mean using an insignificant resistance for a countless number of reps. This will do little to change your appearance. Remember, it’s the muscle on your frame which gives you your shape. Muscle also increases your metabolism which helps your body burn extra calories throughout the day.
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Old 12-19-2006, 10:29 AM   #6
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A short word on tone:

Originally Posted by J. Berardi
There are two types of muscle tone; myogenic and neurogenic. Don't get thrown off by the sciency words; the first simply refers to your muscle tone at rest. It is affected by the density of your muscles; the greater the density of your muscles, the harder and firmer you will appear. Heavy training increases your myogenic tone through the hypertrophy (growth) of the contractile proteins myosin and actin (myosin and actin are by far the most dense components of skeletal muscle).

Training in higher rep ranges promotes more sarcoplasmic (fluid) hypertrophy, which in turn yields a "softer" pumped look. If you want to be hard, firm, tight, etc, the latter is certainly not the way to go. The second aspect of a muscles' tone is neurogenic tone, or the tone that is expressed when movements or contractions occur. Again, lower rep training comes out on top as training with heavy loads will increase the sensitivity of alpha and gamma motor neurons, thus increasing neurogenic tone when conducting even the simplest of movements (i.e. walking, extending your arm to point, etc).
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Old 12-19-2006, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
So, like 0311 said high reps, despite the rampant belief in this, just won't lead to further definition, not in a magical way and not by burning more fat
I wouldnt say this is 100% truth, you can use high rep schemes, and supersets to 'mimic' cardio activity. Much the same way that Dave uses complexs. If breaks are short, and heart rate is kept high, you can most surely achieve a cardio like effect. This is similar to the depletion workouts used in UD2, which give way to supercompensation ... ect ect. But in order to achieve this effect, you wont be using wieghts even remotely near what you need to pack on mass, or invoke hypertrophy.

Its all in how you use the tools you have. But by no means will doing sets of 10-15 with 2min breaks lead to a more defined, or more toned as you put it body.

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Old 12-19-2006, 12:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrdgain
But by no means will doing sets of 10-15 with 2min breaks lead to a more defined, or more toned as you put it body.
Yeah, that's what we were referring to. When I looked at the context of scorcher's original post, that's what he's asking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorcher
I've read and heard a lot that high rep ranges such as 10-15 lead to muscle size and tone,
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Old 12-19-2006, 01:53 PM   #9
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No doubt big homie, just wanted to layout the options for him.
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Old 12-19-2006, 02:13 PM   #10
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That's what I meant when I said circuit schemes and other things. Supersets, after all are a form of "circuit". Hell when you do unilateral things that burns more oxygen. Just doing high reps in and of themselves without "keeping the heart rate high" won't do much, as hrdgain said. But by the same token you can use medium reps in a circuit and still get the same effect.

Most people, when they say high reps for definition, are NOT talking about mimicking a cardio effect. They have actually been led to believe that high reps somehow magically change the shape and "tone" of the muscle. This is exactly the kind of thing the pilates bullshit lead people to believe.
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