Jason Ferruggia wrote an article recently about building muscle:
Are You Sabotaging Your Gains with the Wrong Rep Range
Basically, the article boils down to this:
In drug-free trainees, sets of 3-8 reps (especially sets of 5) do more to build muscle than sets of 10-15 reps.
It's remarkably similar to Reg Park's 5 sets of 5, Bill Starr's 5 x 5 (ramping up to a max set of 5), Mark Rippetoe's 3 x 5 (three sets across), or Joe DeFranco's working up to a heavy set of 1-5 (with 5 recommended for weaker/starting guys). This isn't new advice. But it's good advice.
The article really shines in the comments. If you dig through the questions and Jason Ferrugia's answers, you see the rest of the advice:
- for older lifters (40+) do sets of 5-6 reps, but use a 10-12 rep max (65-75% 1RM).
- do extra sets, not extra reps, to bring up volume.
- do sets of 8-15 reps for direct arm work.
- do higher reps for accessory work.
- don't train to failure, but do up the weights regularly.
It's good advice, especially the repeated cautions about not training to failure regularly. The idea is to do the easy, good, high-quality reps and leave the shaky, grinding, form-destroying final reps in the tank. To go home worked out but not exhausted, and be better for next time.
The one caution I'd have is that for the older guys, you don't want to add too many more sets of 3-8 to bring up volume. I find in my older clients, especially the active parents, that additional volume is harder on them in the long run than additional intensity. I'd rather bump the weights up just a touch higher for their sets, and take a regular deload, than increase their overall volume.
This Week in Grip – Episode 17 – 5/21/17
1 hour ago