What set/rep is better for building muscle, 5X5 or 8X4?

Woman with hand held weights lunging

To build muscle mass, we need to push up our volume rate and lift heavy.

There are quite several factors to consider before diving into the number of repetitions and sets. Anything you do with your repetitions can help or hinder your muscle-building potential.

Below, I’ve gathered some very sound advice packaged up within a no-nonsense format I’ve used for years and that many other bodybuilders and people have successfully built muscle mass over time. These tips work for everyone and anyone, and many are not applied by many (which is a shame) I want everyone to experience the best and most successful road towards building muscle – male and female alike. These techniques work for anyone willing to spend the time and effort to execute them correctly.

Six of the best tips to build muscle mass fast

One: Time under tension is very important.
Contracted muscles produce mechanical tension – that’s how our muscles experience stress. The stress activates genetic pathways that trigger protein synthesis and muscle tissue growth.

Two: Muscle swelling and damage.
The lengthening of a muscle contraction causes the muscle to be damaged. This is known as the eccentric phase (which I touch on many times in several blog posts), which, when emphasising this phase, leads to the release of growth factors that stimulate protein synthesis. When our muscles undergo microscopic tears, cells fill with liquid (this is when you experience that muscle pump we all love!). This, again, leads to an increase in protein synthesis as a protective mechanism.

Three: Metabolic stress.
This occurs when by-products of anaerobic energy metabolism accumulate, activating those satellite cells that have been asleep – leading to muscle tissue growth. This metabolic stress causes the release of testosterone, growth hormone and IGF-1. All these hormonal responses help you to recover faster and play a big role in protein synthesis.

Four: The basic volume rate.
For all of the above to occur, we need to consider lifting a moderately heavy weight – which should be around 65–85% of your one rep maximum, with 4–10 sets, within a repetition range of 6–15. These figures should give you some great results.

Five: Tempo counting – aim for a longer time under tension.
Keeping this in mind, we need to aim for a longer amount of time under tension and not just throw the weight around.

The speed at which you perform both the concentric and eccentric movements is extremely important and greatly affects the stimulus applied to the muscles. The tempo range should be around 3–6 seconds for the eccentric phase and 1–3 seconds for the concentric. This allows for a longer time under tension, activating both the slow and fast twitch muscle fibres. That means maximal muscle gains.

Six: Failure is something to aim for.
Training to fail is essential to overcome any strength or muscle-building plateaus – or generally get ripped. You must get to the point where you cannot go further using proper technique. This produces a lot of muscle damage and large surges of a protein synthesis response- leading to greater muscle development. I always use this with upper body movements, and picking something that won’t induce injury (such as a leg extension machine) works extremely well for legs. Use this for calves, and watch that stagnation of muscle mass disappear!

Do apply the rep and set range I’ve indicated here but keep all these other factors in mind when moving onto a particular program. All the steps must be followed to get the best results from your sets and repetition ranges. Good luck on your journey



  • Roland Hanks , 05/03/2020

    Love the articles. They are great. I would like to share with my Soldiers but do you have dummified versions. I don’t need the science, just the workout plan. If you have more team CrossFit plans please share too. I’m 50 and getting stronger! My email is rolahan@mail.regent.edu
    Cheers! Roland

    • admin , 06/03/2020

      Hello Roland
      Thanks so much for writing to me. I’d love to help you out. I’ll email you. 🙂

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