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6 to 8 reps or 8 to 12 reps or 10 to 15 reps does it matter


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Ok, I've read a number of posts from this forum and I have seen some things that make me question what I am doing.

I currently do Cardio (60 minutes) and Weight Lifting (30 minutes) every day except weekends.  I focus on 1 or 2 muscle groups per weight lifting day so that I can rest for 1 to 2 days inbetween.

My goal is to tone my muscles not look like Mr. Universe.  I want definition not bulk (i actually like being able to bend my arms and legs).

I have been taught that to get bulk you use max weight 6 to 8 reps for 2 sets.  For tone I have been taught 10 to 15 reps for 3 sets.

I am doing 8 to 12 reps for 3 sets because I want a little of both right now until I reach where I want to be shape wise.

Is what I am doing correct?  Should I be doing 6-8 reps and 2 sets even if I just want to get definition?  Please explain your opinion with as much facts as possible.

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Depends on what you want your results to be. There's more than one kind of strength, and there's more than one kind of muscle growth.

 Myofibrillar hypertrophy is when your muscle fibres get larger, this comes from working on maximal strength and gives you a hard, dense look with good neurogenic tone.

 Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is when the cellular energy systems surrounding the muscle fibres grow larger to more effectively deliver nutrients to the fibre. It contributes to muscle size, but not to neurogenic tone or strength, so having more sarcoplasmic than myofibrillar hypertrophy means you look larger but lack neurogenic tone.

1-5 reps is the maximal strength range, and depends as much on neural adaptation and maximal muscle fiber recruitment as it does on muscle strength. It's actually less effective for hypertrophy as the lack of volume means you don't expose all of your muscle fibres to growth stimuli.

6-8 is the lower hypertrophy region with more of a strength emphasis and mostly giving you myofibrillar (muscle fiber) hypertrophy.

8-12 is the maximal hypertrophy region where you get both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic(muscular fluid and energy systems) hypertrophy in about equal proportion.

12-16 is the upper hypertrophy region with more sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and just about no myofibrillar hypertrophy.

16-20 is pure sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, and above 20 you're working strictly strength endurance with no hypertrophy potential whatsoever.

 So the advice you've been given is kinda backwards :)
#2  
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I have a related question about this topic.

I have heard that different weight/rep ranges are good for different muscle goals.

However, I have also heard that the main determinant of whether muscle can be gained is diet. As I understand it: in a caloric deficit, muscle is preserved at best (aside from newbie gains); in a caloric surplus, SOMETHING is gained, and the idea is to maximize the amount of that that is muscle; and in caloric balance, things may or may not happen and certainly won't happen efficiently. So:

In a caloric surplus, if you do anything other than maximal hypertrophy, doesn't that increase the amount of fat you gain? (ie if you stay in the strength range and don't gain muscle size, won't the rest of your surplus go to fat?)

In a caloric deficit, I'm not sure if this means that (a) it doesn't matter which you do, because any of the above will maintain muscle; or (b) you again want to go for maximal hypertrophy, because you're not going to gain muscle anyway, but that's the most you can do to counteract losing it.

The only place where it seems to make sense to do anything other than 8-12 is in caloric balance, where things aren't terribly efficient anyway. So ... where has my thinking gone astray?


 So the advice you've been given is kinda backwards :)

 Go figure.  How can so many personnal trainers be so il-informed?

My goal is to have the body shape and look of a gymnst.  What I dont want is the look of Lou Ferigno.

So if I understand correctly I should stay at 8 - 12 reps and 3 sets until I am happy.  Then I should switch to 6 - 8 reps 2 sets to keep strong but not really gain size?  This goes against everything I have been told in the past.

Original Post by sszcar:

Go figure. How can so many personnal trainers be so il-informed?

I have been wondering this for a very long time.

Depends on where they got their education - ISSA, NASM or even ACE beats the stuffing out of the in-house programs at Bally's, 24-hour fitness or any of the major chains.

 In-house certs is completed in one weekend and is mostly about how to teach your clients to safely use the machines in the gym, and while that's cool and all it doesn't mean they actually know squat about biomechanics or training.

 Just ask Bodyscience about his opinion of in-house certified-over-the-weekend personal trainers ;)

Flowerbud:  I'm not certain that your thinking has gone astray. My favourite study these days, on why you need to lift stuff while dieting:
D, DE, and DES demonstrated a similar and significant (P <= 0.05) reduction in body mass (-9.64, -8.99, and -9.90 kg, respectively) with fat mass comprising 69, 78, and 97% of the total loss in body mass, respectively. 
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 31(9):1320-1329, September 1999
A third of the weight loss in the diet-only group was muscle (2.98 kg, or 6.5lbs) and the diet+cardio exercise group also lost significant muscle (1.98kg or 4.35lbs), while the diet+cardio+strength training group mostly retained theirs, losing 0.297kg or just shy of 0.6lbs of muscle.

 'Course, thinking that the DES group's results are more desireable than either of the alternatives is just me, you're free to form your own opinion :-P

  There's a point to lifting in the <8 rep range from the perspective of maintaining some of the strength qualities that depends on neurological adaptations like explosive strength and maximal strength, but aside from that staying in the 8-12 rep range is most likely to be productive.
Original Post by sszcar:



 So the advice you've been given is kinda backwards :)

 Go figure.  How can so many personnal trainers be so il-informed?

My goal is to have the body shape and look of a gymnst.  What I dont want is the look of Lou Ferigno.

So if I understand correctly I should stay at 8 - 12 reps and 3 sets until I am happy.  Then I should switch to 6 - 8 reps 2 sets to keep strong but not really gain size?  This goes against everything I have been told in the past.

If you don't want to look like Lou Ferigno I have a simple solution, don't take steroids.  It's really really hard to get that big, it's not like people train wrong and all of a sudden wake up looking like a body-builder.  The main difference between the build of a gymnst and a body builder is size, if you increase the size of a gymnst they'll start to look like a body-builder. 

Edit: I read something on t-nation a while ago that said you should switch up your rep scheme every month or so, something about keeping your body guessing, I'll see if I can dig up the article.

Edit #2: Here's the article: http://www.t-nation.com/article/bodybuilding/ totalbody_training&cr=

Original Post by floggingsully:

If you don't want to look like Lou Ferigno I have a simple solution, don't take steroids.

I normally run for two hours a day but last week I did some bicep curls and some machine that I pull down (I don't know what it's called). I gained 5lbs! Is that all muscle?

Original Post by spirochete:

Original Post by floggingsully:

If you don't want to look like Lou Ferigno I have a simple solution, don't take steroids.

I normally run for two hours a day but last week I did some bicep curls and some machine that I pull down (I don't know what it's called). I gained 5lbs! Is that all muscle?

 I hear that protein helps build muscles - so yesterday I had some chicken, and when I weighed myself after eating, I had gained like 3lbs - is that all muscle?

Original Post by amethystgirl:

Original Post by spirochete:

Original Post by floggingsully:

If you don't want to look like Lou Ferigno I have a simple solution, don't take steroids.

I normally run for two hours a day but last week I did some bicep curls and some machine that I pull down (I don't know what it's called). I gained 5lbs! Is that all muscle?

 I hear that protein helps build muscles - so yesterday I had some chicken, and when I weighed myself after eating, I had gained like 3lbs - is that all muscle?

 YES! both of you, it's ALL MUSCLE!!!! and worse than that, it'll continue to increase... EXPONENTIALLY!!! Quick, before it's too late, run to the gym, jump on a eliptical and stay there for 3-4 hours, repeat again after dinner and again after every meal you have until the muscle growth stops.

And for goddness sake, stop eating so much protein, it makes you bulk up like whoa!

Original Post by floggingsully:

Original Post by amethystgirl:

Original Post by spirochete:

Original Post by floggingsully:

If you don't want to look like Lou Ferigno I have a simple solution, don't take steroids.

I normally run for two hours a day but last week I did some bicep curls and some machine that I pull down (I don't know what it's called). I gained 5lbs! Is that all muscle?

 I hear that protein helps build muscles - so yesterday I had some chicken, and when I weighed myself after eating, I had gained like 3lbs - is that all muscle?

 YES! both of you, it's ALL MUSCLE!!!! and worse than that, it'll continue to increase... EXPONENTIALLY!!! Quick, before it's too late, run to the gym, jump on a eliptical and stay there for 3-4 hours, repeat again after dinner and again after every meal you have until the muscle growth stops.

And for goddness sake, stop eating so much protein, it makes you bulk up like whoa!

 It's too late! I'm a monster *sob*

:( but I'm a mesomorph my thighs gain 3 inches with each squat

i have to admit, i never find these rather antagonizing comments funny, but this was laughoutloud hilarious.

Original Post by caloriecountingme:

i have to admit, i never find these rather antagonizing comments funny, but this was laughoutloud hilarious.

 Then my work here is done...

#14  
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melkor -- I guess my question wasn't so much about "why would you lift weights while dieting". Call me insane but even though I haven't seen any fat loss results in myself, I'm still a believer and haven't given up hope... :)

What I'm wondering is why you would ever do anything but the 8-12 max hypertrophy range. ESPECIALLY if you're in a calorie SURPLUS -- because if you're eating more than you burn, and you aren't working to build a whole lot of muscle, won't all the excess energy go to fat?

And if you're in a deficit and trying to preserve muscle, won't you preserve more of it if you're working in max hypertrophy?

So under what circumstances would, say, the 5-rep range serve you best?

An excellent subject that I have been wondering about.

 

I am in a 500 calorie deficit and have been doing the 12 rep, 3 set deal for a few weeks now. Is this the suggested type of workout that a cal-deficit person should be doing?

 It depends on your goals a bit, but yes, there's a reason why the 8-12 range is the classic bodybuilding rep scheme while 1-5 and 6-8 is the classic powerlifter rep schemes.

 Though all of the rep schemes have their place if you're going for muscle gain in a calorie surplus - larger muscle fibres means more weight moved, enlarged sarcoplasm means your body can feed those muscle fibres more efficiently and this has long-term benefits for growing more muscle fibres. The 8-12 is a compromise that gives you both at once, but some programs use the 1-5 and 16-20 rep range instead to work on each type of muscle growth more efficiently. And a basic barbell workout scheme like Bill Starr's 5x5 or Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength" are very good for the beginner since the main problem for a lot of people is that they haven't really lifted heavy enough to bring their muscle fibres up to where their sarcoplasm is. 

 Bringing your maximal strength up to the same level of developement as your energy systems is a good idea - and which rep range you wind up using depends mostly on whether it's your strength or endurance that's lagging ;)

 In a calorie deficit you're mostly concerned with keeping exisiting muscle fibre, and that's best accomplished through - well, using those muscles. So lifting in a rep range that's energy-system dominant (>12) is kinda not very useful ;)

So calorie deficit dieters should be doing low rep/high weight if they're going for toned muscles?

I'm still confused.

 

EDIT: let me clairify what it is I am going for:

To lose 10 to 15 lbs (I am 6' 3", 200 lbs) and want toned, defined, slighty larger muscles.

Yup - unless you're a genetic outlier like Duke or Jasontarin with their superior muscle-building genetics, the best you can hope for in a calorie deficit is to retain the muscle you have.

 This is best accomplished by lifting in the 8-12 or lower rep range, though if you go for the 5-8 rep range you can get away with the 12-16 rep range for some of your workouts - this sort of undulating periodization scheme is the basis for the Real Fast Fat Loss program.  Which worked rather brilliantly for me; though flowerbud didn't see the same kinds of results I did using that workout (17lbs lost in 11 weeks)

A family friend, who happens to be a personal trainer, told me that in order to build muscles most effectively, use the correct amount of weight to where you can do more than 6, but less than 12 reps. 6 or less reps meaning you're using too much weight, greater than 11 meaning you're using too little.

#20  
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Hmm -- so should I be mixing in days of (lighter) sets of 15 with my sets of 5? I do sets of 5 on pullups and one-legged squats, because I am trying to work up to them (unassisted pullups, and actual sets of one-legged squats. I can do a first set of 5 or so now, but the second set I can get about 2-3, and after that just 1).

Other exercises (deadlifts, step-ups, shoulder press, pushups) I do 8-12. Up to 15 on the first set of pushups (I go till I can't go anymore).

I could pick some days though and do lighter weights (more assist on the pullups, both legs on the squats) for 15 reps... to even things out?

Oh, as for calories -- I'm probably about in calorie balance. At least I hope so, because I don't think I'm in a deficit, and I'd hate to have to eat less. But I'm not at the point where I can count or strictly monitor my intake at the moment, and I'm willing to live with the fact that I could achieve better efficiency if I did.
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