Gym Showdown: High Reps vs Heavy Weights

By Mark / last week
high reps vs heavy weights

Working out with heavier weights or doing more reps? Compare the two options and see which delivers the best results in the gym for muscle builders.

High Reps vs Heavy Weights - Work Out Harder or Longer?

This showdown pits high reps against heavy weights. High reps have been touted as being the best route to take if you want to increase muscle size and burn fat. Heavy weights are recommended when you want to increase strength. This showdown will explain the advantages of both forms of training so that you can decide the winner.

higher weights or more reps for muscle building

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The Benefits of High Reps

A workout that utilizes a high number of repetitions per set is in the range of more than 15 repetitions per set. This form of training is useful for increasing endurance, burning fat and increasing growth hormone.


Working out with rep ranges that are above 15 per set is a good way to increase your endurance. After lifting a weight 60 times for 4 sets, your arms, legs, or shoulders will be very tired.

Initially, you will feel completely exhausted, but over a period of time you will notice that you can last longer when performing the exercise. Endurance training is great for athletes engaging in sports like football, baseball and running.

Burn Fat

Trying to lose body fat with cardio is possible, but that generally leads to a loss of fat and muscle. After working out for months or years to gain lean mass, you don’t want to burn off even an ounce of it when you are dieting.

High repetitions will help you avoid losing muscle along with fat. The greatest benefit to using high reps to help you burn fat is through the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

EPOC helps to elevate the metabolism for a period of time after your workout. That period of time can last as much as 38 hours after your workout and in that time period you will be burning more fat than you would normally burn.

So, not only will you burn more fat during your workout, you'll keep burning it long after you've completed it.

High reps have been touted as being the best route to take if you want to increase muscle size and burn fat.”

Increase Growth

Hormone Growth hormone is responsible for helping you increase and preserve your lean mass. High-rep training with short rest periods in between has been shown to increase growth hormone in a study conducted involving 16 participants. The study lasted nine weeks and tested the effects of high-rep training on growth hormone.

The participants were divided into two groups with one group resting for a period of 45 seconds between sets while the other group rested for two minutes between sets.

At the end of the study it was found that the group that had a rest period of only 45 minutes had a higher level of growth hormone than the group resting for a longer period of time.

The Benefits of Using Heavy Weights

When using heavy weights the number of repetitions tend to be a lot lower. For really heavy weights, bodybuilders usually stick with a range of one to 5 repetitions per set and for moderate weights the range is from 6 to 12 repetitions per set. Using heavy weights help to increase strength and muscle size.


If you are looking to get stronger, then heavy weights are the best way to increase strength. In a study conducted among cyclists, 23 participants were divided into two groups.

One group lifted heavy weights with fewer repetitions while the other group lifted light weights with a high number of repetitions. At the end of the study, the two groups were tested for gains in strength.

The group that lifted heavy had greater gains in strength than the group lifting light weights and higher repetitions.

If you study powerlifters who train hard to lift hundreds of pounds in competitions, you’ll find that they always perform between 1 and 5 reps per set and take long breaks (up to 5 minutes) in between sets. If you want to get stronger, lift heavy.

Increase Muscle Size

While lifting extremely heavy will make you stronger, moderate lifting has been shown to give the greatest increases in muscle size. Using a rep range between six and 12 coupled with slow, controlled movements is the best way to increase the size of your muscles.

 The combination of a slightly higher rep range and slow movements increases the damage to your muscle fibers. This damage is what makes your muscles grow back stronger and bigger (after proper eating and rest).

Choose the Right Option for Your Workout Goals

The showdown between high reps and heavy weights has come to a close. High reps will help you increase endurance, burn fat and increase your levels of growth hormone. Heavy weights are best for helping you get stronger, bigger muscles. Your workout goals will determine the winner of the battle between high reps and heavy weights.

About the author


Hello, I'm Mark. I'm a bodybuilding champion and have been active in the industry for over 10 years. I created this website to provide fellow bodybuilders with useful information to help them achieve their dream physique.