This is probably the most frequently asked question in the gym and not only by beginners, but by experienced bodybuilders and athletes as well. However, the answer is different in each case, the number of sets and reps that best promote the development of the individual’s muscles and endurance depending on the individual’s experience, his or her goals and level of physical fitness, to mention just two of the most important factors.
There is no one size fits all answer to the question, it would be useless and probably even dangerous to recommend a certain number of reps and sets for an exercise for all gym goers, so what this article proposes to do is to provide guidelines that you can follow in order to achieve your goals.
Exercise Sets and Reps - Definition
Reps and sets are the basic units of exercises. "Reps" is the abbreviation of repetitions, that is, the number of times you should perform a certain exercise. 12 reps of squats means that you are supposed to squat 12 times, then stop for a certain amount of time, before doing another dozen squats, then stopping again for the same amount of time as after the first twelve. By the time you stop for the second time, you will have performed two sets of 12 reps.
The Number of Reps and Sets to Increase Muscular Power
The goals you are looking for achieving is another factor that must be taken into consideration when defining the number of reps and sets that you must perform during your trainings. If your main goal is to increase muscle power, it probably means that you are already an experienced bodybuilder, happy with the muscle size achieved and looking for more strength. In this case, the best way to go is to limit the reps in your sets to less than six, while increasing weight and the amount of resting time between the sets to 2-3 minutes.
The Number of Reps and Sets to Increase Muscular Endurance
If your main goal is to increase muscular endurance, the strategy to follow is to increase the number of reps and the sets of a specific exercise to around 12-20 while also decreasing amount of resting time between the sets to about half a minute. If you do more reps, you will not be able to use the large weights you use for increasing power, so decrease the size of the weights that you use as well.
Should I Adjust My Reps and Sets for Body Weight Exercises?
Body weight exercises are becoming more and more popular for their incredible efficiency. This special form of workout uses the body’s own weight as resistance to activate the muscles and is considered by many experts to be even more effective for building muscle size and increasing muscle power and endurance than free weight exercises. However, to be able to get the best results,you will have to forget about super-high reps. For starters, keep your reps in the 5-12 range for the upper body and a bit higher for the lower body; then increase your workload gradually, adding more reps and more sets as well.