Home » Common Mistake: How Many Reps to Build Muscle

Common Mistake: How Many Reps to Build Muscle

by Gym Slacker

How Many Reps to Build Muscle: The Common Mistake You Need to Avoid

Stop Counting Reps and Start Building Muscle Efficiently

When it comes to working out and building muscle, counting reps has long been the go-to method for tracking progress. However, this common approach may actually be hindering your gains rather than helping them. In this article, we will debunk the myth of counting reps and explain why focusing on rep ranges and intentionality is the key to maximizing muscle growth.

Understanding Rep Ranges for Optimal Muscle Building

Rather than fixating on hitting a specific number of reps, it’s more effective to focus on the general rep ranges that stimulate muscle growth. These rep ranges are divided based on the weight you can handle and fall within the following categories:

1. Low Rep Range (1-7 repetitions): This range involves lifting heavy weights that create high tension. The benefit here is that you don’t have to reach failure to experience muscle growth, thanks to the intense tension generated.

2. Moderate Rep Range (8-14 repetitions): With a moderate weight, this range offers a balance between tension and fatigue. Failure becomes more crucial as tension decreases, making it essential to maintain good form.

3. High Rep Range (15-30 repetitions): Using lighter weights, this range prioritizes volume over tension. Although the tension is lower, focusing on performing each repetition with intention can still yield effective results.

4. Very High Rep Range (30+ repetitions): As the weight becomes super light, the focus shifts to volume rather than intensity. You need to perform a large number of repetitions to stimulate muscle growth.

The Importance of Intention and Mind-Muscle Connection

The key ingredient to generating better results in any rep range is intentionality. By establishing a strong mind-muscle connection, you can better engage the targeted muscles and make each repetition count. This connection enhances your ability to perceive failure and execute exercises more effectively.

Furthermore, the early reps should not be disregarded as throwaways. They provide an opportunity to practice and improve your exercise form, creating a solid foundation for the later reps. As you approach failure, these intentional early reps pave the way for even more effective repetitions, ensuring a tension overload and optimal muscle growth.

Avoid the Rep Counting Trap for Efficient Muscle Building

Rather than obsessing over hitting a specific number of reps, shift your mindset towards working within the appropriate rep range and taking each set to failure. Remember, muscle growth can be achieved across all rep ranges as long as you devote high effort and maintain intentionality in every repetition.

Whether you prefer low or high rep ranges, the essential aspect is giving maximum effort to each repetition. As the saying goes, “Stop counting reps, but make the reps count.” By doing so, you establish a stronger mind-muscle connection and ensure that you are placing adequate tension on the muscle fibers.


When it comes to building muscle, the common mistake of fixating on rep counts can prevent you from achieving optimal results. Instead, focus on the appropriate rep ranges and prioritize the intention and effort you put into each repetition. By doing so, you will establish a stronger mind-muscle connection, maximize tension overload, and ultimately build the ripped, athletic muscles you desire.

Remember, muscle growth occurs across all rep ranges. So, ditch the rep-counting obsession and shift your attention towards making every repetition effective and meaningful. Embrace the mind-muscle connection, train with intention, and watch your gains reach new heights!

To access a science-backed workout program that emphasizes effective repetitions for building ripped athletic muscle, visit the ATHLEAN-X website via the link below. Choose the program that aligns with your training goals and embark on a journey to transform your physique.

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ATHLEAN-X™ June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

If you're over 40, there 8 muscle gaining mistakes you HAVE to fix – https://youtu.be/qBaC3TcKdv4

Blyat Man June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I started exercise last month (Almost exactly 30 days) and I've been through 15 sessions now (I do it every othher day)
I started with 7 kg dumbbell and 3 sets of 12 for around 8-9 sessions and then I found this vid. I started to care less about reps and focus more on to failure for 5 sets.

Now, even just just 6 – 7 sessions, I can safely move to 12 kg dumbbell. I still look the same because I don't regulate my diet, but I can lift heavier load and for longer duration.
Thank you for this channel. Every piece of your content help change my life a lot.

Oussama June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

what's the time rest between exercises

Mauricio Rossi June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

There is a caveat in what jeff is saying and understandably he left it out to avoid diluting his point but it might be helpful to be stated for people that train with very high intensity.

Tracking numbers is important to identify progress and overtraining. But you must follow jeff's advice for those numbers to be informative. You must be consistent in how you perform each rep. Ie if you short your reps in comparison to last workout to achieve a higher number then you did less work to achieve that number. This would falsely indicate that you progressed.

Denis S. June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

3 to 5 reps, 5 sets is best for strength and growth. No need to do more than 5 reps.

Tyler Durden June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

One of the most impressive videos I’ve ever seen, explanatory wise. Amazingly explained. Bravo, well done. 👌

Chris N June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I think there is also an important psychological (therapeutic?) component to rep ranges. Those who struggle with depression, procrastination or just need to build the habit to train, lighter weights but lots of reps can make a difficult thing pleasant, while expanding the comfort zone into the uncomfortable.
Personally, I used to hit the gym almost daily for two years before uni, then that happened and a depression reared its head and now I'm slowly getting back into training. I started with just three exercises every other day with super light weights just so I could tick a box and work on the habit.
This begs the question for me: is this a valid thought on the long term, too? Can somebody perhaps mix and match rep ranges when the mental state only supports maintenance mode to grab a weight, tick the box? After all, as Jeff said, consistency is key, even or especially with light resistance.

victor vargas June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

using 20-25 for lightweight is crazy(30 reps)

Robert Corpse Simons June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I am physically disabled and been following your beginners program and loving it but I was counting so thank you for this video looking forward to my next workout tomorrow

Ajaybhai Shah June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

3-7 REP RANGE is like I don't care no one can tell.

Ajaybhai Shah June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Toggling between Lazy mode and other Hard Working Bitches Mad Level that's FUNDAMENTALS SOUND.

Ajaybhai Shah June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

11-16 Rep Range is True Ideal…Studies will confirm this, already had confirmed.
But 128 Rep is for CONTINUOUSLY Altering Ingestion that's REAL.
Like changing girlfriends real quickly if you get my drift.

wade wilson June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Boob man? Butt man? No sir, Jeff is a traps man

Sunistful June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Hi Jeff
I have the problem of getting tired before reaching failure ; I feel my muscles can achieve better and handle higher weight but my breath and stomach are failing me. I am stuck in a rut and feel it is bringing me down 😢 I am 39 years old and wonder if there is anything or solution to enhance ability to prolong sets and repetion to reach failure before actually getting tired
Thank you for all the science you are putting in these videos I personally owe you a lot for the improvment I have achieved 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

mutaz barqawy June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I watched the whole video and i know less right now lol

Grunt Proof June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

At least half the people watching all these are still just not doing any of the work

TheChico868 June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I started lifting to failure.

Thiago Reis June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

This actually makes a lot of sense…

Yefri Gomez June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I don’t count reps but it’s between 7-11 just on working sets

Mikey Saint June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I've at long last started working out with free weights to failure or near failure. Counting wasn't really getting me anywhere. Going for failure is making my workouts more effective.

Ryan Mc June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Is he talking lbs or kgs when talking about reps?

djs12007 June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Why does it seem like, (to me anyway), that he didn't finish his point?

Doug Dietrich June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

So if you don't count your reps, how will you know when to increase weight?

skyler mccloud June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

True but i still think 4-6 is better cause its easier to train to failure if you lift light you can stop early withiut realizing it but if you lift heavy its easy to tell and pretty much impossible not to train to failure

Matt Williams June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Great video! Hard for me not to count reps though. Kinda a habit after lifting off and on for 40 years. 53 and I don't plan on ever jumping off the bandwagon ever again.I feel great

Chris Smith June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I've been training reverse pyramids … typically a set of 4, 8, 12, 16. 4 is very heavy – often I can only do 2 or 3 reps. Then I back off the weight a little and try to get to 8 – hopefully failing before reaching 8. Then a little less weight for 12, and then little less again for 16 (usually working on getting form correct here). In between each set I will go to a different exercise that works the opposing muscle group: say lat pulldowns 4, then pushups, lats 8, more pushups, etc. Does this fit your prescription here?

XAzzuroX June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Such an important video

Brady Thomason June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

You are genius. I can't say thank you enough for the wisdom you share with us all!

Sam June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I find being able to track progress really important. Don't think I can stop counting reps, but I often hear Jeff in my ear telling me to focus on contracting the muscle, so the message still gets through! The mind is key.

Juan A. June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

This guy really understands muscle mechanics

Snow June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

this video is too confusing to understand

ZEUS THE DON June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Excellent video

Keegan Maroney June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

This is true. Start counting how many reps until failure.

Danqo Dusk June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Jeff, I agree with your take on weight vs reps, but I think most of us rep counters do so in order to confirm we are gaining muscle and strength. When my brother and I began weight training in our teens 50 years ago, we always logged the weight used for a given exercise and how many reps we we able to achieve. Five days later I would repeat the exercise with the same weight and see if I could achieve more reps, or add more weight and see how many reps I could achieve. This method was a simple way to objectively measure gains. You're a man of science, you know a lot about weights and measurement. I thought nearly everyone used our old system!

Raw Dawg June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I am confusion.

Zaide Miantiao June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I'll use a heavy weight class that I can still keep good form with. I just so happen to reach failure or near failure at the 10-13 range with those heavier weights. Then, I'll drop the medium weight so I can keep repping out till true failure while also keeping good form/mind-muscle connection. No point in pumping out reps with weights you can't control.

Cliffjumper June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I needed to hear this. Love failure at 50lbs

franklinnose June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

"Don't count reps. Make them count!" Luv it!

andy1181985 June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Yes….im on my 368th set…not counting reps though…i think my arm just popped out of the socket and my back is killin me…but im not gonna count, just gonna keep it going👌

David Jardon June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

Great video! Never saw this so we'll explained! Thank you!

John Hadley June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

This is a new and more eye-opening way to approach the hyper trophy/ endurance question I’ve always wondered about. I’m going to begin using these ideas!

LilDinoBoi June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I appreciate that even though its his way of making a living, Jeff, a licensed physical therapist, gives us this info for free. I salute you sir!

Anthony Herrera June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I've had tendon impingement in both shoulders. I've had acromial decompression on both. For the last 18 months I've been experiencing pain and some popping. I've done rotator cuff exercises, icing and stretching before beginning your program. I'm making size and strength gains but still have pain and I know it's holding me back. Suggestions? Thanks 😢

My Call June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm


leeraijasmine June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

This is literally what I have been preaching and practicing for years and years 🙂 Feels good to hear Jeff say the same 😀 hehe

Ricky Zabilski June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

"We're not counting reps; we're making each rep count."
– Jeff Cavaliere, 2022

Jeff the Poop Eater June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I dont even really consider the weight used. I just use weight i can get about 15 reps to failure, usually 1 set and do sets dropping reps til i can only do 5 reps. Then i drop weight and do it again. I do this 3x for most my lifts except squats and deadlifts for obvious reasons. By the end my arms are shaking and im struggling with very light weight.

Also, If you focus on technique and slow down the negative on the rep you can tax your muscles without going too heavy and reach failure sooner.

M Duke June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

I still don’t understand. So, you’re saying reps don’t matter, right? But in another episode you said the speed in which you get to 12 reps matters. So, what are you saying? Do reps matter yes or no?

Dylan Done June 17, 2023 - 2:28 pm

You’re awesome thank you so much


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