Improving your strength is a great way to enhance your physicality. For example, many experts believe that it is the secret to improving your speed if you’re a professional runner. But whether you’re a runner or just a simple fitness enthusiast, you’d certainly want to become stronger as it can do wonders to your health and body.
So if you’re doing strength training, what is the recommended number of repetitions you should make so you can get the best results possible? If you’re going to look it up online, you’ll be confused because there are a lot of different opinions on this matter. Some say it is three reps, while others believe it is six or higher. But if you’re going to ask Brent Carter, a staff coach at Starting Strength, he will tell you that five is the magic number. According to him, sets of five work best for strength training, especially if this is your first time undergoing this kind of workout.
Carter explained that novices or those who are just starting out in strength training have yet to obtain the ability to get through a maximum high of 20 repetitions. Because of this, it would be pointless and dangerous to try to do reps of this magnitude. Five reps, according to him, work best because it is the middle ground. It is just right between force production and ATP-CP (which are something you improve when you perform workouts with the least number of reps you can do) and endurance and hyperspeed sarcoplasmic (which you develop when you do 20 reps).
You might be wondering if the range of reps you’re considering is between 0 and 20, would 10 reps make more sense? After all, it is technically in the middle of this range, not five reps. Carter has a quick explanation for this issue. According to him, 10 reps would logically make sense, seeing that it is literally smacked dab in the middle of the range. But physically, it would not. He stressed out that the human body just doesn’t have the capability to do 10 reps, especially in the case of beginners.
Sure, it is possible to crank out one more rep after already doing five repetitions. While it is doable, Carter believes that the difference between the results you produce after each extra rep you make becomes more and more trivial. “The difference between doing nineteen rests in twenty reps is far less than significant than doing one rest in two reps. For this reason, five reps is our middle ground,” he said.
Also, he pointed out that five reps are high enough in the force production range that you are able to improve your strength. At the same time, this number of reps is enough to give you a little bit of action in the psycholytic energy and hypertrophy department without getting you fatigued and exhausted.
So if you want to be stronger and get the results you’re expecting, five is the number of repetitions you should try to achieve, not more and not less.