Exercise Terms

Q: What are Reps and Sets? How should they be changed up?

A: A “rep” or repetition is a single “up and down” movement, or a complete muscle contraction and relaxation. For example, when doing a push up, you push your body up, and then lower it back towards the floor. This constitutes one rep.

A “set” is the number of reps you perform. For example, if you do 10 push ups, you can say that you are doing one set of 10 reps. If you do 10 reps of push ups, take a break, do 10 more, break, and finish one last set of 10- you can say you did “three sets of 10 reps of push ups.”

The combination of reps and sets you choose for your workout is the basis of its design. First, understand that there is a range for muscle growth and development. At one end of the spectrum, you can lift weights in a manner that encourage an increase in muscle mass and size. In the middle of the range, you can choose a particular number of reps and sets that improves strength. Finally, at the opposite end of the spectrum, you can design a program with a certain number of reps and sets to build muscular endurance.

For muscle building, you generally want to perform few reps with heavy weight, but use multiple sets. For example, you would choose a heavy weight you can only lift 3-5 times, and perform 5-6 sets.

To increase strength, you would choose a weight you can lift 6-10 times and perform 3-5 sets.

Finally, an endurance workout would involve you lifting a lighter weight anywhere from 10-25 times. Typically you would perform 1-3 sets.

No matter which combination you choose, your muscles should be fatigued as you finish your last 2-3 reps in each set. If not, you need to choose a heavier weight.

As an aside, the great thing about circuit workouts, is that you choose either a heavy weight to build muscle and strength or a lighter weight to improve endurance. Do as many as you can in a certain time period, and by default, you will only perform the number of reps in that time period that your body will allow. This ensure that your muscles will fatigue, which is keep to improving size, strength and endurance. Circuit workouts take the complicated record keeping out of the mix.

Now that you know what reps and sets are, learn a bit more about the pace at which you should lift weights.

Which sets and reps do you use? Share below in the comments section!


MedicineNet.com – Reps and Sets