Build Muscle Fast
Best Muscle Building Sets and Reps
Your in the gym because you want to get big, strong, and gain muscle fast. This can only happen if you know what exercises to do and if you use the best muscle building sets and reps are.
There are plenty of different muscle building programs some are high in reps like German Volume Training, there are other mass building routines that use less reps, like the 5×5 workout. Of course there are the classic bodybuilding mass building rep schemes of 3×10 or 3×12. The old school guys swear by this.
But, today, with the help of my buddy Jason Ferruggia, I will settle this confusion forever.
If you want to know what the best muscle building sets and reps for building muscle fast are, read on, I’m about to reveal the secret equation.
Discover how to build muscle fast…
Bodybuilding too often is based on Bro Science. That’s to say, many of the programs people follow have been passed down from the old guy in the gym to up and coming gym rat. In some cases this has gone on for generations. Workouts get passed down like family heirlooms. I’m sure you’ve heard guys say, back in the day I did… The problem with this is that little or no science has gone into the programing.
In the 60’s anabolic steroids became more prevalent in bodybuilding gyms. With this increase in steroid use guys were able to recover faster and grow quicker, this lead to muscle building programs increasing volume. Before this influx of drugs, guys like Paul Anderson and Steve Reeves, the pioniers of moderen bodybuilding, trained with a lot lower volume.
One Arnold arrived on Venice beach, high volume, bodypart splits were the considered the best way to get big and build muscle. Eat big, train big, that was the only way.
None of this training was based on rational thinking and planning. It was a macho gym mentality that shaped the training. The doctrine was…
“it’s what the best guys are doing, and it’s what everyone else is doing.”
I know you have heard that “higher volume training is needed to build muscle.” But why, what evidence do you have? Ronnie Colman, Kai Greene, Phil Heath, none of those guys are having their programs analyzed by sports performance coaches or scientists to see if their volume is the best. In fact there are studies that less is better, or at least just as good.
Those that swear by high volume workouts will tell you that there are higher levels of growth hormone secretion associated with high volume workout routines. This may be the case. But keep in mind that almost anything you do elevates GH. Sleep raises growth hormone levels too. But what often gets left out is how little this increase in GH levels affects the muscle building process.
It’s All Science
Muscle building, and conditioning methods are all based on science. Bro Science can’t back up any of its claims. Sure your buddy may be able to give you a tip to fine tune or tweak your program for better results but that’s all trial and error, and a little luck.
We’re all a little different. Things like genetics, physical condition, age, nutrition, supplementation, all come into play. But the underlying principles to building muscle fast are based in science.
The basic muscular response to the stress of working out, doesn’t change all that much from person to person. In its most basic form, muscle growth, strength gains, and improvements in conditioning are the direct result of the body’s efforts to protect itself. Its a basic adaptation to the stress you place on it.
High Volume – Not For Drug Free Lifters
Now you may bee thinking that high volume makes sense. Increase the stress on the body and it repairs and grows to protect itself. This line of though is a huge mistake for the drug free lifter. What happens is that you damage your body too much. You can’t repair quick enough. Your amino acid pool and glycogen stores are drained and this increases your recovery time. You may find that you need more time between workouts.
Anabolic steroids help the body recover faster. So the guys you read about in the magazines can handel the high volume.
Less Is More
If you train to the max and can’t train that muscle again for a week, that only give you 4 posible training sessions a month or 52 a year. If you reduce the volume, you can recover faster. Your amino acid pool and glycogen stores aren’t depleted so you can train again sooner. Now you can train 2 or 3 times a week.
Now in one year you can get 104, or 156 growth stimulating workouts instead of just 52.
Science tells us that frequency is more importnat than the volume. And to train more often, you have to decrease training volume.
In the video below Dan John talks about rep ranges.
As you can see from the video that reps are kept low as are sets. He doesn’t go into total volume for the workout but that is to be kept low too.
Most guys can get away with just one set. You can do a second but when you are trying to build muscle one will do if you are training hard enough. Technically one set is enough, but old habits die hard, and to be safe, I like to add in the second set. This is just a little insurance.
With every rule there are a few exceptions. Below are the instances where you may mant to do more than 2 muscle building sets per exercise.
- You’re a raw beginner. The extra sets aren’t difficult, they are just to practice.
- If you are doing speed exercises such as cleans or box jumps you should also do a few more sets.
- If you’t varying the reps and weights, you can do more than two sets. For example if you are doing two sets of three with 315, a set of five with 295 and a set of eight with 275, you can get away with more than two sets. But other than that, you should never do more than two sets of any exercise with the same weight for the same reps.
Best Muscle Building Approach to Sets and Reps
When it comes to building muscle there are a few different approaches you can take.
Rep Out and Back Off
- First set… go for broke. But know that you can do the last rep.
- 2nd set, backoff set… Slightly drop the weight, around 5 or 10%. Rep it out, but again KNOW that you can do every rep. You don’t want the help of a spot.
Warm Up and Rep Out
- 1st set… Go heavy and hard but make sure you leave plenty in the tank. This is a hard warm up set.
- 2nd set… Add some weight, and push it to the max. Just like the previous method do only as many reps as you know you can do. Not help from your spot.
This method is very popular. A heavy warm up set can get you pumped and get your nervous system reved into high gear. This will then make your second set even more effective.
Two Heavy Sets
Many workouts use this method. Do 2 tough sets. Keep the weight the same and push both sets to near failure.
Less is more.
For the drug free guy looking to build muscle you are better off doing fewer reps and sets each workout. This reduced volume will allow you to recover faster and increase the frequency of your workouts. So only go all out on one set. You can try 2 tough sets but be aware that you may find it hard to recover from that second set.
Remember, endless amounts of sets aren’t the answer, in fact that’s counterproductive to building muscle.
This set and rep scheme applies to the major muscle groups and compound movements like the squat, bench press, shoulder press, etc… Different body parts respond differently. Use different rep schemes on the smaller muscle groups. The workout you follow to get bigger arms will be a little different than what you would do to get a big chest.
Each of these options work well when it comes to building muscle. But we’re all a little different so experiment. See what works best for you.
But in the end, you’ll be better off with anyone of these plans than you would be if you followed the bro science and muscle magazines that have you doing mindless workout routines of 4-6 sets per exercise.
There you have it, the…
Best Muscle Building Sets
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