How many sets and reps to build muscle

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The number of sets and reps that you choose to do can ultimately influence gains that you make in areas like size, mass, and strength.

When asked about how many sets and reps to build muscle, I always tell people that there is no simple answer to this question.

Certain rep ranges such as really high rep ranges above 20 reps can be eliminated. However, there is still a pretty large varying range for reps for hypertrophy.

Looking back at my personal training certifications can provide some insight into how many reps for size gains.

Every certification recommends slightly different rep ranges. Today I am going to explain the national academy of sports medicine (NASM) suggestion for how many reps to build muscle.

NASM suggests that you perform anywhere from 6-12 repetitions. As I explain in the video,

I always have seen the best results with 6-8 reps. However, that does not mean that you will achieve the greatest gains from 6-8 reps either.

Everybody is different, therefore you must pick a rep range that works best for you. Chances are high that for gaining muscle it will be between 6-12 reps. 

Varying your rep range can really help build size, mass, and strength. There’s a term known as periodization, that is used to break plateuas, and get faster results.

By varying your rep range you prevent your body from adapting. Adaption to your workout is one of the number one reasons people stop gaining size from their workout.

By varying the reps you can highly increase your strength. By increasing your strength, you will be able to lift a heavier load and breakdown more muscle tissue.

When doing periodization you’re going to have 3 different phases each lasting 3 weeks with a different rep range.


Phase One – 6 reps

Phase Two – 10 reps

Phase Three – 3-5 reps

After you are finished with all 9 weeks return to phase one and be amazed at how much your strength has gone up.

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Lifting a heavier load does correlate with building muscle. Varying your rep range is not the only answer for how to build muscle mass faster.

Lowering the weight very slowly during repetitions can really help break muscle tissue down.

The eccentric or deceleration phase of an exercise is the part where the most amount of muscle tissue is broken down.

An example of this is the lowering of the weight during a bench press. As you bring the weight down to your chest go really slowly.

Count to at least 3 seconds on your way down. The slower you go the more muscle tissue you’ll be breaking down.

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This is one of the best ways to build muscle faster, but I still would not rank it as the most effective.

The best answer for how many sets and reps to build muscle is to always vary it up and hit failure.

Failure is huge in building muscle. You have to work the muscle until it not only burns but until you cannot lift the weight anymore.

Failure is actually giving out. Make sure you have a spotter and perform every set that you do whether its 3 or 4 until failure.

Vary your rep ranges, hit failure, and go slowly on the deceleration phase of your lift and you will be very happy with faster progress in the gym.

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My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first of 3 transformation studios in 2011. I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 3,000,000 subscribers! I can happily say that we've helped over 15,000 people get in great shape over the years. I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to

Founder // Gravity Transformation, Max Posternak