I go to the gym way too often and see guys pumping out 50 reps of bicep curls with dainty weights. I get it, its summer, and sun’s out guns out. But please, go at it in a different way. Walk into the gym with the mentality of getting stronger and you won't even have to worry about bicep curls. Don't believe me? I don't blame you; I trained the same way for years because I thought I was toning my muscle. Turns out that this was a complete myth. What many people don't know is that there are actually two different types of muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth), Myofibrillar and Sarcoplasmic. Myofibrillar muscles correlate to strength gains whereas Sarcoplasmic correlates to size gains. Here is a guide to them:
Rep Range 1-3 (Myofibrillar)
- · Focused on pure strength
- · Neural Adaptions versus Muscular Growth
- · Best for those who wish to be stronger without adding any weight
- · Great for athletes who compete in weight classes
- · Requires longer rest time due to high weight volume (4-6 minutes)
Verdict: Good option for competing athletes and those who wish to gain dense muscle look.
Rep Range 4-8 (Myofibrillar/Sarcoplasmic)
- · Mix of both strength and muscle growth
- · Both Neural Adaption and Mass gaining
- · Best for common man who wishes to add a little bit of size with his strength
- · Football players benefit from this because they require strength and size
- · Less rest time required (2-4 minutes)
Verdict: This is where I would suggest that most people start. Programs like strong lifts and starting strength have had great success with this type of training. My personal recommendation is the 5*5 program for beginners. 5 reps, 5 sets. Read more about it at stronglifts and starting strength.
Rep Range 9-12 (Sarcoplasmic)
- · Muscle growth with minimal strength gains
- · Very little Neural Adaption
- · Leads to fluid filled muscles
- · Best for those interested in competing in bodybuilding
- · Not suitable for most other sports
- · Very little rest time required
Verdict: This range is not my favorite. It leads to a bulky body builder look in supplemented by eating and doesn't provide much help in actual strength.
Conclusion: I would suggest upping your weight and reducing your sets so that you can build strength and dense muscle. If you want the puffy muscles with little strength to show for go on the higher rep range.