Effective Reps: Are All Reps Created Equal For Muscle Hypertrophy?

Are all repetitions (reps) created equal for muscle hypertrophy? Or are some reps more effective than others at building muscle? I’ve been thinking about this concept of “effective reps” for some time, and I’m delighted to announce that Alan Aragon just published my first paper on the topic.

Here’s the announcement:

The paper is titled:

Muscle Hypertrophy: Are All Reps Created Equal? Formalizing The Theory Of “Effective Reps”

In summary:

Volume is a key driver of muscle hypertrophy. More reps lead to more volume, but not all reps are created equal. In this article, I argue that the closer a rep is to failure, the more effective it is at building muscle, formalizing the theory of “effective reps”. As this theory would predict, some studies have shown that lifters who perform more effective reps build more muscle, even when similar volumes are used. Effective reps also seem more efficient, reducing workout time by about half. Mechanistically, I argue that effective reps build more muscle because they increase metabolic stress. Rest-pause or drop sets can be used to maximize effective reps, but lifters new to using them should monitor their progress carefully to avoid overtraining.

For the full text, you’ll have to sign up for Alan Aragon’s Research Review. It’s not expensive and the quality of the info is always top notch, so it has my recommendation (I read my first AARR in 2011).

For more info on effective reps, look forward to a podcast with Steve Hall on the topic, as well as a science paper in a peer-reviewed journal with James Krieger late 2018/early 2019.