The Best Weight Lifting Rep Ranges for Beginners
The best rep ranges for beginning weight lifters really depends on goals. Some people hit the weights in an effort to burn fat and lose body weight, while others are looking to gain muscle and bulk up. If your primary goal is to lose weight, your rep ranges while lifting weights should be high. Keep rest periods short. Many beginner weight lifters wait a few minutes between sets, but in reality your rest periods should be no longer than 45 seconds or a minute at the most if your goal is weight loss.
By reducing rest periods, you increase the intensity of your workouts and simultaneously kick start the fat-burning process. Note that the weights you use when training for fat loss should be relatively heavy, but they won't be nearly as heavy as if you were to take long rest periods. The weight is really irrelevant, however. Think of the weights you lift simply as a tool by which you burn calories.
If your goal is to build muscle, your workout plan should be a bit different. Research has shown that working out at a moderate to high intensity is the best way to put on muscle. One study showed those who lifted weights with 90 seconds of rest gained 25% more muscle than those who lifted heavier weights and rested for three minutes. Contrary to popular belief, lifting the heaviest weights does not necessarily give you the biggest muscles. Thus, if your goal is to increase muscle mass, a medium rep range should be used.
The only time it is suitable to use a low rep range and long rest periods is if your primary goal is to build strength. Strength gains come fastest with long rest periods, and a lot of beginner weight lifters are looking to gain strength. Beginners tend to grow from any sort of muscle stimulation, so training for strength can be a positive for a beginning weight lifter since they will gain both size and strength. The size might not be the optimal amount at first, but a beginner will develop a base of strength from which to grow later. Rest periods of at least two minutes are recommended for those looking to add strength through a weight lifting program.
Ultimately, the rep ranges you choose depend on your goals. If you want to lose weight, pick up the intensity. For muscle mass, a moderate or fairly high tempo should be used. If your goal is strength gains or some sort of strength and muscle combination, consider resting at least two or three minutes between sets.