On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing what is the best rep range to build muscle and strength, based on muscle fiber types.
But before I do that, I’m going to assume you’re feeling awesome, energetic, and leaner than ever.
Because you keep tuning in to every episode on our Live Lean TV YouTube channel.
So big thank you for that, and also here’s a virtual fist bump too.
Alright, if you’re still taking on the task of designing your own workout programs, I hope you’re taking today’s topic on what is the best rep range to build muscle and strength, into consideration.
The answer to this depends on the muscle fiber makeup of the muscle you’re targeting.
Sexy, I know.
I touched on fast twitch vs slow twitch muscle fiber training in a recent video post.
But today, I want to talk about it in more detail, especially when it comes to deciding the best rep range to build muscle.
Just keep this simple statement in mind:
A workout design that is effective for one muscle group may not be as effective for another muscle group.
In other words, sure you may have had great results building bigger arms using a typical hypertrophy muscle building approach to:
But this doesn’t mean that same rep, set, and tempo design will also work for building bigger legs, or any other muscle group.
Based on the muscle fiber type, this means a different training stimulus may be required to make optimal gains.
Think of it this way.
It takes more than just training hard to accomplish your goals.
You also have to train smart.
Let’s first look in more detail on the muscle fiber types in your body.
People that perform aerobic long endurance activities, like marathon runners, primarily train the Type I slow twitch muscle fibers.
The type II fast twitch muscle fibers are classified into 2 subcategories:
The type IIa fibers have more endurance than Type IIb fibers and help grow more muscle mass.
Bodybuilders tend to perform sets between 20-70 seconds long, which helps them obtain more development in muscle building Type IIa fibers.
Type IIb fibers are developed for more power.
Powerlifters tend to performs sets less than 20 seconds, which helps them become more powerful.
Keep the following 2 tips in mind.
For muscle groups with a higher fast twitch muscle fiber type makeup, when the goal is strength, I’d typically, but not always, train using:
The hamstrings are an example of a muscle group that are comprised mainly of fast twitch muscle fibers.
When the goal is building strength, here’s one example of rep, set, and weight selection, when performing a barbell deadlift to train your hamstrings.
For big compound moves like the barbell deadlift, I also sometimes use a short intra-set rest interval of 1-3 seconds.
An example of a intra-set rest interval during a set of barbell deadlifts would mean when the plates on the barbell hit the floor, I’d stop, while keeping my hands on the bar, wait for 1-3 seconds, then explode back up.
Here’s an example of an intra-set rest interval.
The calves are primarily made up of the gastrocnemius, the upper portion of the calf, and the soleus, the lower portion of the calf.
Even though both muscles are classified as calf muscles, the gastrocnemius is comprised of approximately 60% fast twitch muscle fibers.
The soleus is comprised more of slow twitch muscle fibers, as it is only contains approximately 12% fast twitch muscle fibers.
Therefore your approach to training your calves needs to be different.
Now let’s talk about how to build muscle mass.
From a mass standpoint, in the past, one of my weak points has been my calves.
So let’s take a look at how to apply this training method to calves.
The standing machine raise primarily hits the gastrocnemius, which is the upper calf muscle.
As mentioned earlier, the gastrocnemius is primarily made up of fast twitch muscle fibers, therefore it’s more of a fast twitch exercise.
This means the gastrocnemius responds best to low reps and heavier weight.
When I do standing machine calf raises, which hits the upper calves, I usually focus on the following:
As mentioned, the lower portion of the calf, the soleus, is comprised of more slow twitch muscle fiber.
So let’s talk about the optimal way to train the slow twitch muscles fibers found in the soleus lower calf muscles.
Here’s how to train muscle groups with a higher slow twitch muscle fiber type makeup.
For exercises that primarily target slow twitch muscle groups, typically you would train them the opposite way compared to fast twitch muscle fiber groups.
Since slow twitch muscle fibers tend to have higher levels of strength endurance, for optimal results I’d typically, but not always, train using:
When I do seated machine calf raises, which hits the soleus lower calf muscles, I usually focus on the following:
So there you have it.
That is just one way to train by optimizing your muscle fibers, and ultimately your performance, strength, and muscle gains.
Muscle gains should always be one of the main focuses in your training.
If you are looking to build muscle or lose fat, the more muscle you build, the more fat you will consistently burn off.
Try applying these tips to your training and take your gains to a whole new level.
If you want all the guess work taken out, and have a program customized to your needs, I highly recommend you consider investing and applying for our Live Lean custom coaching program.
All the guesswork will be removed.
We supply the workout and/or nutrition plan, and we keep you accountable.
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Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.