There is an ideal amount of reps you should carry out per set when bodybuilding depending on what your goals are. For example the vast majority begin building muscle for size and simply aesthetic reasons – to look better. I started because I was a skinny bean-pole and was sick of looking unhealthy.
Others begin lifting weights for strength such as footballers and those who play sports or athletics. Swimmers need to develop strong shoulder and deltoid muscle for strength and power so they can become faster to compete. Boxers require strong legs and quadriceps for punching power and a solid posterior chain to remain balanced.
Don’t be mistaken for thinking that size doesn’t equal strength entirely though, because even if you’re looking for size gains you will still get much stronger than the average person because you will continually have to lift heavier weight at each workout, but if you want to develop strength as your primary goal then there are differences in the amount of reps required for each goal as I will explain.
When building muscle for size a higher rep count is required. 6-8 reps per set are proven to place more emphasis on hypertrophy and building muscle size. For strength you should use lower reps such as 3-5 per set. This helps you develop stronger muscles but they won’t necessarily look as big as the bodybuilder who trains with higher reps, though you would be able to shift more weight around in the gym.
First establish whether you want to build muscle size or go purely for strength and then start from there. If you ever get in a rut and can’t seem to make any gains, often varying the number of reps you carry out can pull you out of a plateau so switching up or down the number of reps you do sometimes can be beneficial no matter what your goal is.