Musclechemistry Board Certified Member
With gyms closing again in some parts of the world, more people will start training from home. So you may find yourself training with limited equipment and higher repetitions. But can you actually gain muscle while training with higher reps?
The answer is yes! The current literature on rep ranges and muscle growth shows that you can gain muscle using a wide spectrum of rep ranges, as long as your sets are challenging [1]. A cool example is a 2015 study. In this study, training with sets of 25-35 reps to muscle failure resulted in similar muscle growth as training with 8-12 reps to failure [2].
In regards to how close to failure you should actually train, keeping no more than 1-3 reps in reserve at the end of your set is generally a good aim for most people [3]. But if you train with 15+ repetitions on a certain exercise, I would purposely aim to train to muscle fatigue to ensure that you get the most out of your high-rep sets. Recent research supports that to optimize muscle growth with high-rep (20-rep) training, training to failure has benefits [4].
All in all, if you have to train with higher reps currently, you can still make progress. Just make sure you push yourself during your sets. I will be providing more home-workouts with limited equipment soon again. So stay tuned for that!
1. Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis - PubMed
2. Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men - PubMed
3. Time course of recovery following resistance training leading or not to failure - PubMed
4. Muscle Failure Promotes Greater Muscle Hypertrophy in Low-Load but Not in High-Load Resistance Training - PubMed