How many sets & Reps?

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

Do you know why you are doing 3x10 for your program? Doing a certain amount of reps and sets should change depending on your goals. There are four main goals of resistance training.


Muscular Endurance – the ability of your muscles to continuously move a sub maximal resistance for an extended period


Hypertrophy – increasing muscle mass


Strength – the maximal force you can exert (such as a 1 rep max)


Power – being able to exert your maximal force as quickly as possible (such as a jump)


The goal is different for everyone and depends on what you are training for, the specific sport you do, time of season, etc. For example, if adding some lean muscle mass would benefit you in your sport, you would focus on hypertrophy. If you need to increase your vertical jump, power would probably be more of your focus. Again, these are different for everyone, but everyone should have a goal and plan.


Now how do you train for each of these? Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning has two great tables I will go over.


“Table I. Set & Rep Ranges” outlines the general recommendations for sets and reps when training for each goal. This gives you an easy guide to follow when you have decided what your resistance training goal is. You don’t have to do every exercise of your training session in the parameters of your goal, and probably shouldn’t, but your goal parameters should be the biggest focus/portion of your training session.


Table I. Set & Rep Ranges

Reprinted from Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (p. 463) by Haff, G. & Triplett, T., 2016Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2016 by the “National Strength & Conditioning Association”.


“Table 2. Training Goal Flow Chart” makes it a point that just because you are going for a certain resistance training goal, doesn’t mean there isn’t some cross over. We know the general rep/set ranges of what will train for each goal, but that doesn’t mean if you do 5 reps its only power training and as soon as you hit 6 reps its all strength training. The table shows how the ends and beginning of goals blend together as you are getting some benefit from both. The more in the middle the each of these goals you go, the more specific you are to that goal.


Table 2. Training Goal Flow Chart

Reprinted from Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (p. 457) by Haff, G. & Triplett, T., 2016, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2016 by the “National Strength & Conditioning Association”.


These two graphs should help you have an idea of what reps and sets scheme you should be in for the bigger portion of your workout depending on you goal. You should also understand that you will get some benefit of multiple goals, but can focus in on one with proper programming. Make sure to implement this knowledge in your to get the best results.


References

Haff, G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Fourth edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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