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The horizontal pull up exercise
Continuing Education1 Credit

Acute Variables: Repetition Range

Repetition ranges per set for stability, muscle endurance, hypertrophy, maximal strength, and power. Effects of repetition range on hormones, muscle size, performance, and upper limits.

Course Description: Acute Variables - Repetition Range

This course discusses the optimal repetition (reps) ranges per set of resistance training for various training goals. That is, this course details the evidence-based ideal reps/set for endurance, hypertrophy, strength, power, athletic performance, and functional training. The details discussed include the effect rep ranges have on muscle adaptations, the influence of rep range on short-term and long-term hormone concentrations, the effect on post-exercise protein synthesis, the influence of rep ranges on muscle growth and muscle fiber type proportions, the effect on EMG activity, rep ranges for strength training with adolescents, and ideal rep ranges for improving the rate of force development for athletes.

Some findings from the included systematic review resulted in counter-intuitive, or at least less conventional recommendations. For example, studies suggest that low, moderate, and high rep range, when sets are performed to failure, resulting in similar increases in muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), muscle mass, and overall lean body mass. However, moderate rep ranges may result in slightly more hypertrophy, when compared to very low or very high rep ranges, due to the dependence of hypertrophy on both load and volume. And, although higher rep ranges may result in larger increases in type I fiber CSA, and lower rep ranges may result in larger increases in type II CSA, these differences likely decrease when multiple exercises are performed for each muscle group, when training volume increases, and/or an individual is more experienced with resistance training (perhaps due to high exercise volume and multiple exercises per muscle group). In summary, the research suggests that the difference between rep ranges is likely less consequential than previously thought.

Movement professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, etc.) should consider acute variables essential knowledge for optimal exercise programming, and rep range/set one of those acute variables. This course is part of our continued effort to optimize “acute variable” recommendations.

Additional Courses:


  • Low: 1 - 6
  • Moderate: 6 - 12
  • High: 12 - 20
  • Very High: 20+

Note: These reps ranges are generalized guidelines. It is not uncommon for research to use ranges that are in-between, or span two of these general ranges; for example, 1- 10 reps, 4 - 8 reps, or 10 -20 reps.

Rep Range by Goal:

  • Hypertrophy: Moderate reps
  • Max Strength: Low reps (experienced), Moderate reps (novice)
  • Endurance: High Reps (adults), Moderate reps (adolescents)
  • Power: Low to moderate reps
  • Functional Outcomes in the Elderly: Moderate Reps

The horizontal pull up exercise
Caption: The horizontal pull up exercise

Study Guide: Acute Variables - Repetition Range


Hormones and Rep Ranges

Electromyography (EMG) Activity and Rep Ranges

Muscle Cross-Sectional Area (CSA) and Rep Ranges

Max Strength and Reps

Repetition Ranges and Their Effect on Endurance

1 sub-category

Repetition Ranges and an Upper Limit


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1. Summary

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