Which is better for getting big muscles, low or high repetitions?

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To get bigger muscles lifting heavier weights with lower reps is definitely the way to go.  If you lift lighter weight for more reps you will tighten up but not get defined muscles.

In order to create more muscle mass, you would want to train with lower repetitions and higher weight. A general rule of thumb is to lift heavy enough to create fatigue within 12-15 repetitions.
Both repetition ranges can offer benefits. Increasing muscle size, or hypertrophy, occurs when sufficient mechanical stress (weight, volume) is placed on muscles, causing overload and a degree of intended damage. This damage and stress creates a need for the body to respond by repairing and increasing the size of the muscle fibers. If nutrition and recovery is supportive of this, then bigger muscles are the result. The stress related to the muscle damage can be thought of as a degree of tension created from the weight used and the time it is kept under tension (the repetitions/sets). So, if you use lighter loads, and higher repetitions then more sets may be necessary (more time) to make the necessary changes. Conversely, if you use heavy loads, then the time under tension may go down due to lower repetitions possible before muscle fatigue and failure. Both low and high repetition sets can work, and it is probably a good idea to vary how you do things over time so that your body does not become stale with one style or program. Any one method can work, but nothing works forever because your body is designed to adapt. Mix up your routine and you will likely see better results and not hit plateaus as often.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.