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Sunday, November 27, 2016

How Many Sets and Reps Should You Really Do Per Exercise Each Workout?

Getting bigger and stronger is a beautifully simple science. You lift something heavy, stress your muscles, eat, rest and repeat. Do this with enough intensity and consistency, and you'll grow big and strong.

If it's that simple, why on earth do most trainers and gym-goers insist on making weightlifting mind-numbingly complicated? Undulating periodization? Compensatory acceleration? Alactic capacity? These sound like topics from a trigonometry textbook, not ways to get jacked.





Like most things in fitness, there's no absolute right or wrong way to build muscle, but there's certainly an optimal way, especially regarding the number of sets and reps you use.

So how many sets do you need to build muscle? 3x10? 5x5? 10x10? Somewhere in between? This article will shed some light on the science of how many sets you should do to maximize muscle growth and strength.

The Most Common Set And Rep Combinations For An Exercise

Below are the most commonly used and prescribed combinations of sets and reps you could do per exercise along with the total amount of volume each one produces.

Also included is the level of intensity each rep range falls into as well as what fitness goal that combination of sets/reps/volume is most ideal for.

8 sets x 3 reps = 24 reps

High intensity.
Most ideal for strength related goals.

6 sets x 4 reps = 24 reps

High intensity.
Most ideal for strength related goals.

3 sets x 5 reps = 15 reps

High intensity.
Most ideal for strength related goals.

5 sets x 5 reps =  25 reps

High to moderate intensity.
Most ideal for strength goals, but also suited for building muscle.

4 sets x 6 reps = 24 reps

High to moderate intensity.
Equally ideal for increasing strength and building muscle.

3 sets x 8 reps = 24 reps

Moderate intensity.
Most ideal for building muscle, but also suited for increasing strength.

4 sets x 8 reps = 32 reps

Moderate intensity.
Most ideal for building muscle, but also suited for increasing strength.

3 sets x 10 reps = 30 reps

Moderate intensity.
Most ideal for building muscle, but also suited for muscular endurance.

4 sets x 10 reps = 40 reps

Moderate to low intensity.
Most ideal for building muscle, but also suited for endurance.

2 sets x 12 reps = 24 reps

Moderate to low intensity.
Most ideal for building muscle, but also suited for endurance.

3 sets x 12 reps = 36 reps

Moderate to low intensity.
Equally ideal for building muscle and improving muscle endurance.

2 sets x 15 reps = 30 reps

Low intensity. Most ideal for muscle endurance, but also suited for building muscle.

2 sets x 20 reps = 40 reps

Low intensity. Most ideal for muscle endurance.

Strong athletes can handle more volume with heavy weights. Ten sets of three reps allows for lots of heavy, low-rep sets to build massive strength and keep perfect form. This rep scheme works best with barbell lifts like the Squat, Bench and Deadlift.
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