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How many sets & reps should you do?

Updated: May 9, 2019

UNDERSTANDING THE TERMS

Repetitions (Reps)

The number of times the same exercise or movement is performed. For example, 10 Reps of squat means completing the squat 10 times.


Sets

The number of times the repetitions will be done. For example, 10 Reps of Squat = 1 Set. 5 Sets would mean repeating the 10 Reps of squats 5 times.


Load

The amount of weight you are going to lift


1 REPETITION MAXIMUM (1 RM)

The maximum amount of weight you can lift for that specific exercise.

Percentage of 1 RM (%1 RM) carrying the weight that is a percentage of the total weight you can lift. For example, a person can deadlift 100 kg. 85% of 1 RM would mean 85% of 100 kg, which is 85 Kg. That would be the weight he will be training with.


 


Maximal Strength

· Repetitions: ≤ 6

· Sets (Exclude Warm-up): 2-6

· Load (%1RM): ≥ 85

· Rest Time: 2-5 mins


When training for strength, the idea is to get the nervous system to activate more muscle fibres. Training heavy will allow your nervous system to get the stimulus, which helps you get stronger gradually.

Typically, the Adenosine Triphosphate* (ATP-PC) Energy System is utilized during the, which is why ample rest time; minimum of 2 mins, is required for efficiency.

*


Power (Single-Effort Event)

· Repetitions: 1-2

· Sets (Exclude Warm-up): 3-5

· Load (%1RM): 80-90

· Rest Time: 2-5 mins


Training for power is similar to training for strength. However, understanding the difference is important.

Strength = The ability to lift a certain amount of load

Power = The ability to lift a certain amount of load as fast as possible


Typically, Strength is required to be developed first, in order to have Power*. Power training is executed with the exercises done fast and explosively. It also engages the ATP-PC Energy System, which is why the rest time of minimum 2 mins is important.


Power training is split into 2 types, let’s talk about Single-effort events first. Single-effort events are like throwing events in Athletics. You throw explosively for one time, and that’s it, getting a long break before another throw. That is why, the repetitions are low, and the load is high.




Power (Multiple-Effort Event)

· Repetitions: 3-5

· Sets (Exclude Warm-up): 3-5

· Load (%1RM): 75-85

· Rest Time: 2-5 mins


Similar to (single-effort event) power training, however there is a slight difference in the load and repetitions. The Load will be lowered, and the Repetitions will be increased.


Multiple effort events are like sprinting, basketball etc. While, Single-effort events, as explained above, only exerts a one-time effort, multiple effort events use it several times. Hence, the repetitions increase, while the load decreases.



Hypertrophy (gaining size)


· Repetitions: 6-12

· Sets (Exclude Warm-up): 3-6

· Load (%1RM): 67-85

· Rest Time: 30sec-1.5mins


Hypertrophy is the increase in muscular size. Simply put, muscles grow when muscle fibres are torn, which they will repair and regrow as the body rests. To increase in muscular size, you would need to put in an adequate amount of resistance (67-85% of 1RM), with lower rest times.


Muscular Endurance

· Repetitions: ≥12

· Sets (Exclude Warm-up): 2-3

· Load (%1RM): ≤ 67

· Rest Time: 1min


Muscular endurance, as the word suggests, it trains your Muscle’s endurance (pretty much self-explanatory). Repetitions are high because you would want to fatigue to muscles, to get the muscles to adapt to it and thus increasing its endurance. The sets, load and rest time should be kept low.



An important fact that everybody should know is that rest time is part of the process of training. Resting is VERY important. Understanding how long to rest, when to rest in relation to your training goals will increase the training efficiency.


 

Baechle, T.R., Earle, R. W. (Eds.). (2008). Essentials of Strength training and conditioning. (3rd ed.) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


De Salles,B.F., Simão, R., Miranda, F., Novaes Jda, S., Lemos, A., Willardson,J.M. (2009). Rest interval between sets in strength training. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19691365

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