In the fitness and weight-training world, people are often wondering how many reps of each exercise they should be doing or how heavy they should be lifting in order to achieve their goal. These goals often include muscle hypertrophy or muscle endurance. Understanding the difference between the two can help you decide which is right for you.
Muscle hypertrophy refers to an increase in your muscle mass overtime, in particular the physical size and strength of your muscles. For instance, measuring the circumference of your arms in week 1 of your training and seeing physical growth in measurement the following weeks is an indication of muscle hypertrophy. Exercises that help with muscle hypertrophy (growth) is by lifting heavier weights at least 2-3 days a week and alternating between upper-body and lower-body days. However, allowing your body recovery time in between is important because rest and recovery is essential for muscle growth. Lifting heavy weights consistently along with proper nutrition and lifestyle can help increase your overall physical body size.
Muscle endurance is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to perform a repeated activity for an extended period of time. Therefore, the higher your muscle endurance, the greater number of repetitions you could do in a particular exercise. For instance, on week 1 you were able to perform 15 push ups straight and on week 2 you can now complete 20 push ups straight. This is an indication of your muscle endurance improving. Lacking muscle endurance can be seen when your muscles tire out easily and a reduced amount of work those muscle groups can perform. Exercises that often involve muscle endurance include but not limited to: walking, cycling, resistance training, swimming, circuit training, holding a plank etc.
Hypertrophy vs. Endurance Sets and Reps
Type of Training
% of 1 Rep-Max(RM)*
Types of Exercise
60 – 75%
3 – 5
8 – 12
lternating between upper-body lifting and lower-body lifting
50 – 60%
15 – 20
Circuit training, HIIT, full body, body weight exercises
One Rep Max: The maximum amount of weight you can lift from one single repetition of a certain exercise.
Example: 50% of 1 RM = RM x 0.5 will give you the weight you should be lifting at to improve muscle endurance. Complete 3 sets of 15-20 reps at 50% of your 1 Rep Max. Circuit training and HIIT workouts at ReformFIT is a great way to improve your muscle endurance.
At ReformFIT, we offer a variety of classes with an extensive selection of fitness equipment and weights that can help you achieve your goals of muscle hypertrophy or muscle endurance! Our experienced instructors can help you figure out what exercise is best for your fitness goals.