Are low reps better than higher reps for building strength?
Oh lord! Some people will argue to the death on this… usually the people who argue are stupid personal trainers or cross fit ninjas. The truth of the matter is, when you are training for strength there is no argument that lower reps (1-5 range) are literally, pound for pound better than high reps for strength.
In a simple way of putting this, let’s look at powerlifter’s routine. Powerlifters are not only notorious for being strong (and sometimes fat) and lifting heavy weights, they are also notorious for sticking the lower rep ranges for their main sets. You will rarely see a pure powerlifter lifting over 5 reps, 6 reps is usually the top range you’ll see on a 6×6 routine.
It only makes sense when you actually think about it. If you’re lifting 3 sets of 15 reps, you are hardly going to be able to lift a maximum weight load which is required for strength building. You would be lifting a moderate-light load with the intention of muscle building (high reps build muscle)
Now on the contrary if you are lifting 3 sets of 5 reps you are utilizing your strength receptors and pushing yourself to up your strength.
A fantastic way to build strength go for a new pb is something like this:
week 1 80 % of your best
90 % of your best
following week you will go for a new pb for as many reps as you can.
You’ll find that following a routine similar to 5/3/1 or beyond 5/3/1, a routine which gets strength gaining down to a science, you will really dramatically increase your strength.
Is it possible to build strength and muscle at the same time?
Yes, it is possible. However you will always sacrifice a bit of one for the other. Try lifting in the 5×5 routine or even a basic 5/3/1 routine. If you are trying to push muscle over strength but would still like to progress with your strength, either shuffle your reps down a bit, or up the weight you are doing so that you are pushing your strength levels as well as muscle.