How Many Reps Per Set Is Best For Older Men

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How many reps per set is best for older men

When it comes to us older lifters there really is only two things that separates us from younger lifters. One we have had more time to develop chronic injuries that can hamper our training and two as a whole we require a little bit more time for recovery.

We are going to keep these points in mind as we go through our discussion today on muscle growth and the best number of reps we should do per set in order to maximize potential muscle size.

Traditionally rep ranges get broken into three groups 1 to 5 reps for strength. Next is the hypertrophy or muscle growth group with a range of 6 to 12 reps and it is this group that is in question.

If you are interested in losing body fat and adding muscle, please email me at for information on my personal training services.


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I used an article by Greg Nuckols as a reference in which he reviewed all the current studies on these rep ranges, with regards muscle hypertrophy and in it he extends the size of this group to 15 reps. Leaving the final group of 15 to 20 or more reps for developing muscular endurance.

In order for these groups to be compared equally you need to have equal intensity. Which you would accomplish by training to very close to failure.

The reason there is even a question as to what is the best rep range to build muscle, is that it is harder to quantify. Building muscular endurance and strength are performance goals and are easy to measure based on results. Muscle size on the other had is a more visual goal.

When you look at all the studies done on rep ranges what you end up finding is that when it comes to muscle growth as long as you equate volume and intensity the rep range doesn’t really matter much.

There are a lot of practical applications we need to look at when deciding which rep range is the right one we should be working in, including our muscle fibre type.

The biggest advantage to high rep training is that you are using lighter weight reducing the risk of injury and making it easier to perform your reps with good form. This is how I start out most of my clients with slightly higher reps to give them time to get used to the movements and perfect their form.

One of the biggest disadvantages to high rep training is that you can become aerobically fatigued before we fully fatigue all our different muscle fibres. Your muscles will start to get sore and it gets hard to complete the reps.

In order for these 3 groups to be viewed evenly you must be able to train close to muscular failure. One last advantage to having good muscular endurance is that sometimes it is that endurance that helps you push through the last rep when training heavier.

Next we have the one to five rep range. One of the biggest advantages when it comes to lower rep training is we are always working with a heavy enough load to create enough mechanical tension, resulting in muscle growth. But muscle growth doesn’t just come from heavy weights it needs to be equated with volume as volume is the major driver of hypertrophy. And for many their central nervous systems start to fatigue before they have gotten in enough volume to maximize hypertrophy.

Heavy rep training also tends to be hard on our joints especially if we have a long term injury we are dealing with. One last advantage to heavy low rep training is it gets us used to moving heavy weight and how that weight feels.

This kind of puts the 6 to 15 reps at the top of the list, but there is one more consideration. Predominant muscle fibre type, fast twitch muscle fibre tend to respond better to low rep heavy weight training. Where as slow twitch fibres tend to respond better to higher rep training. Most of us have a fairly even mix of muscle fibre types overall and will benefit from mixing up our rep ranges.

One way we can do this is through concurrent periodization. And for us older guys this will also give us more recovery time from the heavy low rep training to spare are joints and it increases our overall weekly training volume. If your full body training,then what you would do is have one day a week as your heavy day. Your second training day would be your medium rep day and finally your third training day would be high rep.

What I do with my clients and myself is I break up the rep ranges a little differently with 5 to 10 reps being my low rep phase, 10 to 15 reps the middle and 15 to 20 being the high rep block.


Fit and 50 says:

If you are interested in losing body fat and adding muscle, please email me at for information on my personal training services.

David says:

What you what you said was decent but the way you said it was not

joseph folgo says:

Ditch the bow tie. We know your in good shape,,, thanks. For the good info

The Light Silent says:

for older men? lmao you old gens need to quit once you get past 35 its over your only gonna shorten your life and its pretty much impossible to gain muscle legit it be a waste to even try.

NextPlanB says:

The bow tie and going shirtless I really couldn't take this serious.

Dennis Campbell says:

I am 76, an amputee permanently confined to a wheelchair, with degenerative arthritis that has destroyed my shoulders. Constant pain, no strength. I am in a skilled nursing facility because I cannot care for myself, but I am determined to maintain some level of fitness. I use a peddling machine, like a stationary bike that I can use from my wheelchair, and do 30 minutes in the morning and 30 in the afternoon. Thirty years ago I was a lifting fanatic and could easily do curls with a 65-pound dumbbell, but really damaged my body through ignorance — I was not allowing any recovery time between brutal workouts and developed scar tissue and adhesions and had to stop. Since losing my leg seven months ago and being confined to this facility I have taken up weight training again, but am very limited in what I can do. Twice per week (three days rest in between workouts) I do what I call chair dips: Like doing bar dips. I lock my wheels and raise myself up. I can't use the arm rests because they are too high. I do sets, 10/20/50/50/50/25, resting about two minutes in between. On alternate days (two days rest from the chair dips) I do curls with a 10-pound dumbbell, 35 reps, switch to a 15-pounder and do three sets (15/12/10) and then finish with two sets of high reps with the lighter weight. I have no idea if I am doing it right, but I feel good and hope to see results (I am getting stronger) in a couple of months. As a younger man, I had huge arms and now look like a 12-year-old boy. I know I will never be that big again, but hope to see some growth. Mike Tyson said to achieve greatness you have to consistently do what you don't feel like doing, so I do it even if I don't want to. I don't want to be great, just better. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

T M says:

Do all rep ranges. Why not.
Do what you can on the day.
Over a certain age, recivery is a bigger factor.

TJ Thompson says:

I find your info for a guy my age (57) the best. Dropped 20lbs, clothes fit and now concentrating on building additional solid muscle. Women in my life are constantly remarking how amazing I look. Not bragging, hoping if you’re starting out you’ll borrow some confidence from what I’m saying. It’s an amazing feeling to get gains

Robert Stafford says:

What's up with the bow tie just curious thank you

Amanda Williams says:

Hmmmm, I love your bow tie.

codecaine says:

💪 I love doing buy weight and lightweight workouts.

Kedhari Sivashankar says:

I've been an amateur bodybuilder since my 20's. Now I'm 64. After a road accident (no permanent disability), long recovery and a covid attack, I've become obese, with a BMI of 36! Should I focus on muscle building or endurance. I have a little knee pain. Is it wrong to say that 3-6 is low range and that 8-12 is midrange ? (I'm trying to get back into shape.) Kindly clarity.

Rene Medina says:

You Rock dude

Mrorlandom says:

Sorry but how can I take you seriously with that bowtie on?A t-shirt might also help .

Mrorlandom says:


Mrorlandom says:

I think I will unsubscribe

Mrorlandom says:

What’s up with the bowtie? Isn’t this for men 50 +

Roy Schultz says:

I'll be 65 in a couple of months. Been lifting off and on since I was 11. Whenever I start again after a break I begin with 1 set of 5 reps of every exercise 6 days for a week with a light weight, plus time on treadmill. Second week I add a rep a day per set. Third week, same until I hit 20 reps a set. I then split into two sets of 10 reps and add a rep a day until |I'm back up to 20 per set. At this point I increase the weight 10-20 lbs and start back at 2 sets of 5 reps ,and work my way up to three sets of 20 reps. At this point my body is used to working out again, and I go to a slit routine, upper body one day, lower the next, treadmill and abs 6 days a week. I do this gradual method due to heart problems and a lot of injuries over the last half century. It's always worked well, whether rehabbing from going through a car windshield or wrecking a motorcycle at high speed.

Apex_grind says:

The tie has to go. A simple tie destroys all credibility. And that statement in the beginning??? Freedom of speech. You get paid as we view, not by our respect.

J M says:

What are your thoughts on burpees for us older guys,?

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