If your goal is to add muscle mass to your frame, you have probably been told that a rep scheme of 8-12 reps is ideal for hypertrophy. While this rep regimen has been scientifically proven to elicit the gains you are after, it is not the only way to grow.

Because our body’s adapt to training, if we continually train using the same rep and set ranges, chances are that we will reach a training, and gaining, plateau very quickly. Yes, you can change up your exercise selection in order to subject your muscles to a new training stimulus, but is that enough to promote optimal muscle growth?

One rather uncommon means of exposing your muscle and varying stimulus, is by using high-low rep training. This is a method where you switch between high and low rep ranges from workout to workout, exercise to exercise or even from set to set. Whichever your preference, high-low rep ranges are great for promoting new muscle growth.

BENEFITS OF HIGH-LOW REP RANGES


Yes the typical hypertrophy-inducing 8-12 rep regimen is ideal to promote gains, but higher and lower rep schemes also have their merits. Higher rep ranges help to maximise muscle pump through blood volumisation and they also work to improve muscular endurance and stamina. Low rep ranges on the other hand help to promote gains in strength; an important aspect of continually promoting progressive overload. The great news is that both of these can also generate growth.

In order to get the best of both worlds, it is a good idea to formulate a training program which includes a mix of both high and low rep ranges. When it comes to high rep ranges, try to train between 15-30 reps and for the low, power, rep ranges, lift weights with which you can only achieve 4-7 rep per set.




HIGH-LOW REP WORKOUT SPLIT

High-low rep workout splits are performed by alternating between high in one workout and low reps in another workout. For example, you train shoulders with high reps on week 1, low reps on week 2 and then with high reps again on week 3 and so on.

If you train more than one body part per workout, you can also work each one with different rep ranges. For example, on week one you start off by hitting chest with low reps and finish off the workout with a high rep bicep regimen, and then the following week you work biceps first with a heavy low rep regimen followed by a high rep chest session.

While this style of training does create a fair amount of “muscle confusion”, you would probably take better advantage of this by performing a high-low rep exercise split.

HIGH-LOW REP EXERCISE SPLIT

Another option for high-low reps is to change it up with each exercise. For example, you do a seated shoulder press with a low rep range and then do a standing side lateral raise with a high rep range. You would alternate between high and low rep ranges for all of the exercises you perform on a specific day. It is always best to keep with low rep ranges on strength-building compound lifts and focus on high rep ranges for isolation lifts.



HIGH-LOW REP SET SPLIT

The last and probably most radical way of performing high-low reps is to switch rep ranges with each set. With this style you will alternate between high and low reps with each set you perform on a specific exercise. In order to perform this type of workout effectively, you will have to pre-plan your workout and select exercises which lend themselves easily to switching loads; otherwise you will spend more time taking weights off the bar and loading them back on than you will training. The best here is to either use dumbbells or machines as you can change between them very quickly and easily.


QUICK TIPS BEFORE YOU START

  • High rep sets – 15 to 30 reps.
  • Low rep sets – 4 to 7 reps.
  • Alternate high rep and low rep sets of all 3 to really shock and confuse your muscles.



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