Reps, Sets, Rest – The Low Down On Different Strategies

Gym Workout 3If you’re someone who’s looking to get in the best shape of your life and really improve your muscle definition, one thing that you need to make sure you’re getting into place with your workout program is how many reps, sets, and how much rest you should be doing in each session you do.

Many people often devote a lot of time and energy into thinking about the workout split they plan to use – a full body approach versus an upper/lower design or some other, as well as which specific exercises to perform, but then they completely neglect to consider the other elements that go into place to create a proper workout plan.

By making sure that you have everything taken into account, you can feel very confident that each time you step foot in the gym, you’re one step closer to reaching your end goal.

Let’s have a look at the main things to know about these workout elements.


First things first, let’s discuss reps. Reps refers to how many times you lift the weight in succession before taking a break. One thing you’ll want to note right off the top is the number of reps that you perform will be inversely correlated with how much weight you’re lifting.

That is, the more weight you’re attempting to lift, the fewer reps you’ll perform. Likewise, if you want to go into the higher rep range, you’ll need to lift less weight in order to do so.

So which rep range is right for you?

It all depends on your goal. If you’re someone who’s looking to get as strong as possible, you’ll want to use the lower rep range since this allows you to really lift heavy. Since building strength is all about adding more weight to the bar, if you’re using higher reps this will really prevent you from doing so.

Aim for the 3-6 rep range total if strength development is the goal.

If you’re looking to get stronger but also get bigger, then you’ll want to take the rep range slightly higher up to 6-8 reps instead. At this rep range you can still lift heavy, but it’s a little more conducive to actually gaining more muscle size. This rep range will cause some byproducts to accumulate in the muscle cells, which gives you that very pumped, full look as well.

Finally, if your goal is fat loss, you may want to take the rep ranges slightly higher to the 8-12 rep range, but note that you should not go above this. Doing higher than 12 reps would demand that you really lighten the load and doing so would most definitely sacrifice your muscle strength.

Not to mention if you’re not lifting as heavy of a weight and are using a reduced calorie diet, you may start to lose lean muscle mass as well.


So now that brings us to the set element of the equation. While reps talked about how many times you lift a weight without taking a break, sets refers to how many of those reps plus breaks you took.

How many sets you perform of a given exercise will depend on what type of workout program you’re doing as well as how many other exercises you’re doing in that workout along with what specific exercise it is.

For those who are doing full body workouts for example, since you do have so many muscles to consider, you may want to take the set range lower to around 3-4 per exercise. If you’re doing just an upper body or lower body session, then five or six may be appropriate.

Also, if you’re doing a compound exercise such as squats, deadlifts, rows, chest press, or shoulder press, you’ll want to perform more sets than if you were doing an isolation exercise such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, or leg extensions.

This is because compound movements will provide more benefits for your time invested so should always be the main focus of the program.

You can add a few sets of the isolation exercises towards the end of the workout, but don’t place a lot of emphasis on them.


Finally, the last element of the equation to think about is the rest element. If you’re resting too long or not taking enough rest this will also influence the results you see, so it’s important to get this right.

For maximum strength development, since you are lifting so heavy and will need to be fully recovered before doing the next set, you’ll want to aim for rest periods of around 2-3 minutes. This ensures that by the time the next set rolls around, you’re able to lift maximally.

For those who are focused on muscle building and doing slightly higher rep sets, 1-2 minutes tends to be sufficient.

Finally, for fat loss purposes, you can take things even lower and aim for 30-45 seconds between sets or less to really kick up the intensity.

Just keep in mind that the amount of rest you take will factor into how much fatigue you’re feeling throughout the workout so you need to be able to handle that accordingly. There will come a point where you can only cut your rest periods so short before your performance really takes a turn for the worse, so be sure to avoid that from occurring.

So there you have the most important things to know about reps, rest, and sets. These are the minor details that go into making up your workout program that will really factor in to the overall results you see.

It’s vital that you evaluate precisely what your goal is when building any workout program and then adjust these factors to meet those goal requirements accordingly.

For a complete program approach that won’t leave you disappointed, please check out the No-Nonsense Muscle Building program.

It’ll quickly transform your body and get you the muscularity that you desire.


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