Weight Training: Strength, Muscle Mass, and Endurance

The most often asked question for weight training is:


My answer is, it depends, if you are training for Strength, Muscle Mass, or Endurance.

NOTE:  there are some older articles on weight lifting on this blog.  The top 4 articles are weight ratios for power clean, bench press and squats in terms of your bodyweight, my old weight training program, a discussion on how to determine 1 rep max (1 RM) and another sample weight training program from another coach.

Below is a chart with estimates on percentages of 1RM (one rep max or one repetition maximum) and the benefits associated with the reps and intensities.  The chart may be off by one rep either way, but you can get an idea of the big picture.

You can look at this chart and it will explain why I do 4×5 reps or 8-6-4-2-2 or three-by-threes or why I do doubles and triples but never a single 1RM.

Also, genetically I get very big lifting weights (most men would die for this problem) but I don’t want to get too big as 400 meters is a long way around the track carrying an elephant, grizzly bear and piano.

In terms of how long to stay in the weight room, 45 minutes is usually my limit.  The number of sets for a particular exercise should be limited to 3 or 4.

If you are coming straight from the track (my personal recommendation, though several world class athletes prefer a 9am weight session) then you are already warmed up.  Jump right in with a fresh T-shirt please, and bring a small towel to wipe off the sweat on the bench!

weigth training ratios

How many reps should you do?

What does this chart tell us?

  • 1-3 reps: Max and Relative strength
  • 3-5 reps: Max strength and low end hypertrophy
  • 5-8 reps: Best combo of max strength and hypertrophy
  • 6-10 reps: Good strength, better hypertrophy
  • 10-15 reps: Excellent hypertrophy (for bodybuilders), average strength, lots of fatigue
  • 15-20 reps: some hypertrophy, lots of endurance, tons of fatigue

Strength, Muscle Mass, and Endurance

If you like infographics, then this picture gives a better representation, though the content is aimed at getting BIG and STRONG.  Thanks Mehdi from Stronglifts.com for the image (though I don’t know where he stole it from either).

Click on the image for a larger view. (960 x 810px)

strength muscle mass and endurance


UPDATE (other charts from Facebook):

Intensity-Repetition-Effort Table


Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • not sure where to leave this comment . but i am dismayed by glen mills trying to defend athletes who tested positive for peds.. and also jimson how must you feel after listening to mills in relation to training methodology ..mills in my mind has definitely lost my respect and we here the other side of the pond take doping violations seriously..i have always wondered how even though in the uk there are many athletes of the jamaican diaspora but they do not dominate like those from there mother country …there had to be a caveat and thats peds , not necessarily getting up at 5 30 am for hills.? finally mills is discrediting himself and bolt by even beginning to in any way be defensive about jamaicas doping issues …

  • with due respect …but what are you a teacher ?… and technically nothing on the site has to do with weight l lifting ..its about how to use weights to condition track athletes…sorry but your reply is just lame .and really not deserving of a reply ..but hey …

  • Hello Mr.Lee
    Regarding weight lifting what type of exercises would you recommend a high school athlete who runs the 200, 400 and 800? Also are there any types of weight lifting programs that you would recommend?

  • First off, your grammar is atrocious.
    Second, the name of this post is Weight Training: Strength, Muscle Mass, and Endurance.
    Why are you talking about doping and Jamaica when that was never mentioned.