Building Muscle Mass: How Many Reps?

A lot of people who are going to the gym for building muscle mass get this wrong…

They confuse “bodybuilding training” with “strength training”.

But training to build muscle and training to gain strength is NOT the same thing my friend!

Don’t get me wrong…strength training will make you stronger and it will help you pack on a little more size.

But if you’re trying to pack on LOTS of extra muscle, this type of training will actually hold you back from maximizing your muscle gains.

Here’s a simple way to correct this problem and turbo-​​charge your muscle building again…

Are YOU Making This Training Mistake When Building Muscle Mass…

Bottom line, if you want more muscle, STOP lifting weights like a powerlifter!

The powerlifter training approach is to go really heavy in your heavy duty exercises like squats, bench press, pulldowns, etc.

The typical repetition range for powerlifters is between 2–6 reps per set.

But if building muscle mass is your objective, you should train with a higher volume of repetitions to trigger growth.

This is going to not only target more muscle fibers for size gains, it’s going to jack up testosterone and growth hormone levels as well!

More anabolic hormones = more muscle mass!

How Many Reps Should You Target For Building Muscle Mass?

The “old school” bodybuilders like Ahhhhnold, would often knock out as many as 20 rep squat sets to pack on more mass.

That’s a lot, right?

For those starting out in bodybuilding, you should only strive for 3 to 5 sets of 12–15 reps for your mass building exercises.

You’ll likely need to train with slightly lighter weights than you’re currently using, but the result will be higher levels of muscle-​​building hormones and more muscle.

I’d say it’s worth it, eh?

If you’re looking to take things to the next level, then we’ve had clients experiment with going as high as 50 REPS for a single set.

This is called “lactic acid training” and it’s one of the most intense training techniques you can use to really pump up your gains.

The hormone boost it gives you is huuuuuuuuuge!

But this training isn’t for “newbies”.

You should have at least 6 months experience in lifting weights before you try to take on any advanced mass building techniques like this one.

If your goal is building muscle mass, stick with the 12–15 rep range until you have enough training to take advantage of more advanced training strategies.



  1. Jordan says:

    I agree with this completely but what tempo should be used with this type of training? I know trainers who say hypertrophy training like this would be 8–12+ reps with an 8–12 second slow reps, whats your opinion?

  2. Alex says:

    Pretty good information, I\‘ve been doing this for a few months and although I can tell the improvement in muscle mass gains, it has been rather slow. Perhaps I am one of those thinner guys whose body type tends to make it difficult to grow more mass faster. Is there a safe supplement that you could suggest I use to boost the process?

  3. henry says:

    i was 220 pounds when i finished my training from Airborm but when i got back from over seas i went down to 185 and i have been stuck there for a while and no luck on getting back to where i felt great is there any way i can get back to how i was ?

  4. Anthony says:

    Hormone levels may be different from person to person. It\‘s all about how your DNA. Whether it will release the right amount of hormones and of course, there are men and women who are just naturally blessed.

    Try learning whether you have fast twitch or slow twitch muscles. I personally lift medium weight and get quick results, other men lift heavy weights, but never gain any muscle. Another reason besides your DNA, is your technique.

    Don\‘t use momentum. Use specific muscle groups being trained to build mass faster. For example, on biceps, I see guys lifting 60lbs on each arms at a fast pace, while the body is using momentum. Bad technique.

    Slower pace with power and control will give you best results.

    (Studied Kinesiology)

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  9. Jay says:

    With 4 sets and a minimum of 12 reps per set how many different exercises should i do to gain mass? I currently do 4 different exercises per body part.

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Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson is a 10 year veteran of the U.S. Army, a Master Fitness Trainer, and Master Instructor of Close Quarters Combat self defense. A full time fitness and self defense author, Jeff has trained thousands of men and women in the practical application of advanced military fitness methods as well as close combat tactics for "real life" self defense.

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