To add mass to my legs, should i lift heavy with few reps or lighter with 12-15 reps?
For legs I did 5 sts of 5 reps:
- Leg Press
- Straight Legged Dead Lift
- Leg Extension
- Leg Curl
Every 5th rep was about to failure.
There's more than one type of muscle mass, and training different rep ranges emphasize one over the other:
The key word in each of these bullet points is "emphasizes". You won't have any rep range that is exclusively myophibrilar or sarcoplasmic. Next, it's important to understand what myophibrilar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy do in terms of muscle mass.
Folks who train for mass emphasize the sarcoplasmic hypertrophy range because it takes up more room. Whether you want to be bigger or you want to be stronger, you will need to emphasize both over time.
Keys to getting more mass:
If you decide to include sets of 1-3, do a lot of sets and keep the intensity the same as if you were doing sets of 8-12.
High weight with few reps will primarily result in adaptations to your central nervous system. That is, you become better at contracting your muscles and wont necessarily add any significant amount of muscle mass.
If you do a lighter weight, with a higher rep routine one of the things that will happen is that you will deplete muscle ATP, which the body then super-compensates to by hypertrophy.
Squat is an excellent exercise for various reasons (hormonal, strength, balance etc). I would base my program around this exercise. Make sure to perform it properly - which means proper depth (upper thigh should be parallel to the ground). Don't get caught up in chasing numbers. an 80kg squat performed at proper depth, is worth much more than a half squat at a much higher weight.
just to be clear. When I'm talking low rep, I mean about 1RM - 3RM (repetition maximum). and high rep beeing about 8-12
Adding mass or hypertrophy happens at higher weight and lower reps. 8 is the ideal rep count. Try to pick a weight that has you struggling on 6,7 and 8.
To put on mass you need BOTH. Load up the squat bar with your normal 10 rep max weight. Then do 20 reps. Eat and sleep a ton for 2 days. Increase weight on the bar 10 pounds. Wash, rinse, repeat. You will put mass on everywhere.
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Assuming that you're eating plenty of food, particularly plenty of protein, and assuming that you're getting enough sleep and aren't terribly stressed, the best way to add mass to your legs is with a small number of exercises--certainly squats and deadlifts, plus additional exercises like leg press and so on if you are sure that you're getting enough sleep and food.
If you're not squatting over 1.5x bodyweight, I'd stick to just the squats and deadlifts, and stick with three to five sets of five or six reps each.
If you are already squatting over 1.5x your bodyweight, I'd do at least one or two sets of 8-12 or even as many as 20 reps in a set. One good way to do this is with two sets of five or six, then a final set of as many reps as possible (with good form). Another way is to do one to three sets of twenty-rep squats.
As this post describes, the best rep scheme for mass is probably between 8 to 12, but it's important to make yourself strong enough to work with heavy weights before focusing on mass.