Bodybuilding Training Article from

Editorial - How Many Reps?
Reprinted from "Muscle World" Magazine - 1981

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I bet you a thousand to one that you have thought about training for strength alone because you know that come the day you can curl and press over 200 pounds. or squat and bench over 400 lbs., you would have some pretty hefty development to go along with the strength. Seeing men like Paul Anderson, Larry Pacifico, Alexeev, Kazmeier, etc, and understanding that they belong to an elite group of the world's most powerful men, and further understanding that they all have enormous body size, one could be forgiven for thinking that the best way to get big is to train with very low reps (for strength) and the size will come automatically.

The truth is that almost any type of weight training, if practiced for just a couple of reps, or with twenty reps (as long s it gets progressively more difficult each week or so), will bring about muscular gain.

Okay! I hear you ..."But what is the best system for maximum gains? How many reps will tell you something different. You hear dogmatic statements from whomever you care to talk to. Go to any gym and ask around...some will tell you three reps per set is best. Others will insist on ten or even twenty. Chances are, you'll get a different answer from each person you ask. Who the heck is right?

Well, let's look at the record. Who did what? Jack Delinger, Mr. Universe 1956, did sets of eight reps but doubled them when he hit a sticking point. Reg Park did sets of ten reps for his first five years of bodybuilding, then he did sets of five reps for another five years, following that with a period of averaging eight reps.

Bill Pearl mixed up his reps. He did sets of "sixes' and sets of "twelves." The same with Arnold Schwarzenegger; his first ten years of training he did six reps per exercise. Later he switched to average around ten to twelve.

Mike Mentzer is another who varies his repetitions. So what does this all mean? The lesson is twofold: 1) Bodybuilders gain on six, eight, ten, or twelve reps (or anything in between) extremely well. The exact amount is not important; 2) Nearly all top bodybuilders have chopped and changed to add variety, the actual change of repetitions being a factor in maintaining a regular growth pattern.

From now on, don't be over concerned about finding the "secret" amount of reps that is right for you. By far the more important aspect is to make your muscles work progressively harder and harder. This can be brought about by either increasing the weight or by improving concentration and exercise performance. If you decide to concentrate only on adding weight, you may find, after awhile, that your exercise style is actually worsening (in order to heave / hoist up the weight) and that the muscles themselves are getting less, rather than more work from the training.

How many reps? Don't worry about it. Just do 'em!

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