What's the best rep range for strength training?

best rep range for strength training

What is the best rep range for strength training? It is a common question among lifters looking to improve their maximal strength totals on the main compound lifts like the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench.

If this is your goal then follow some of these very simple guidelines on the best rep and set schemes for 4-6 weeks and watch your strength increase in no time.

How many reps for strength training?

The best rep range for strength gains is best achieved through heavy, low rep training in the 1-5 rep range. Sets of 2-3 is perfect for pure strength training with no muscle gain, if you are still looking to add some muscle to your frame then 4-5 rep sets will improve both your strength and size.

Tip: Use heavy 1 rep training sparingly as these are very taxing on the nervous system and should be followed by a low intensity workout.

How many sets for strength training?

In Dan John and Pavel Tsatsoulines fantastic book 'Easy Strength' they nail this question with 'the rule of 10' meaning 10 reps total for the lift you are looking to improve on per workout. So this could be 2x5, 5x2, 1x5,3,2 or 3x3,(cycle through these) the important part is that your not going over 10 reps. This will be developing your strength without allowing fatigue and therefore technique failures to limit the neural development which strength training requires.

Tip: Keep your reps for your target lifts ar around 10 total reps, going over this slightly isnt going to matter but keeping things less than 15 per lift is advisable using the rep range recommended above.

How heavy for strength training?

To get the most out of your low volume heavy strength training it is important to be working in the 80-95% of one rep max zone for your 10-15 reps for that lift. The only exception for this is following a workout where you pushed for heavy singles or a new personal best lift in which case a lighter easy workout utilizing 40-60% of one rep max is advisable.

Tip: Lift heavy but take regular lighter workouts after pushing yourself near your limits to avoid overtraining!

Extra tips:

-Rest for 3 minutes minimum between your work sets, this is not a time to be working while fatigued. This is time to develop the skill of strength.

-Make sure you are taking time to recover between heavy workouts. I recommend not lifting more than three times a week when using a low volume heavy strength training rep scheme.

-Give the bodybuilding stuff a rest for a while to fully focus on gaining strength during this time


These guidelines on the best rep range for strength training if implemented in a sensible programme with plentry of calories to fuel your lifting (this is no time to be losing fat) will see you're personal best lifts increasing sooner rather than later. Be patient, consistent, and embrace the process of becoming a stronger version of yourself!

Share your strength training tips and advice below!