Should I Do a Set or a Rep?

9 Min Read

You have your water bottle and quick-dry towel in hand as you wheel into the gym. As you enter, you can hear the music and the clanging of weights in the weight room. You can see a male on the left starting a set of dumbbell shoulder presses and a lady on the right finishing one.

You have your water bottle and quick-dry towel in hand as you wheel into the gym. As you enter, you can hear the music and the clanging of weights in the weight room. A man is starting a set of dumbbell shoulder presses to your left, and a lady is finishing off a bunch of dumbbell curls to your right as you sit on a weight bench. 

You’re thinking, “How many reps should I do to build muscle like the pros?” as you head to the weights. 

You should aim for between 3 and 20 reps each session, whether you’re strength training or toning with less weight. However, your fitness level and objectives will heavily influence the number of repetitions you do. To that end, we’ve compiled this resource to assist you in getting the most out of your upcoming weight training session. After reading this advice, you’ll be ready to take on the gym with your favorite tunes blasting. 

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A Rep is a What?

It doesn’t matter if you train first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or drink a protein shake before your workout if your exercises and rep counts differ from your fitness goals. First, let’s define a rep so we can discuss how many reps you should do to gain muscle and strength. “Rep” is an abbreviation for “repetition,” which is the number of times you do an exercise.

One rep is bringing both hands above your head and lowering them again, as in a sitting shoulder press with free weights. Sets are made out of agents, then. After completing a certain number of locations, you will pause to stretch and drink some of the icy water. 

If you do 10 seated shoulder presses, rest for a minute, and then do 10 more, that’s two sets of 10.

Variables for Representatives

It’s easy to get a rep’s drift. Understanding rep ranges, however, is more nuanced. The 310 rule recommends performing three sets of ten repetitions of each exercise for beginners. You’ll want to increase or change your rep ranges as you progress and your muscles strengthen. 

Reduce your output to 3–5 sets of 2–6 reps for heavy-lifting exercises like deadlifts, back squats, and bench presses if your goal is to gain strength.1 If you want to build stamina, you could do better with just two or three sets of 12 to 20 reps each. 

Therefore, there are two things to keep in mind while formulating your weightlifting schedule:

  • What we mean by “load” is how much weight you have to transport. If you bench press 125 pounds one week and 130 pounds the next, you have raised your load. As was previously said, a more significant burden may call for a lower rep output.
  • You have failed when the proper form cannot be maintained during the exercise. You can still lift the weight if you use poor technique and engage other muscles, but you’ll put yourself at greater risk of injury and reduce the benefits of the exercise. If you’re trying to build muscle but still need to gain strength or stamina, you should do fewer reps every set. 

To gain muscle mass and strength, you should push yourself to the point of failure during your rep ranges. If someone says they are performing three reps, you may assume they are working with a weight heavy enough that three agents bring them close to failure. To complete 10 repetitions, the consequence would be reduced.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

So, how many reps should you do to maximize muscle growth? A study published in 2010 by Brad Schoenfeld concluded that rep ranges between 6 and 12 were optimal for muscular building.2 However, it’s also vital to think about the exercises you choose, how many sets you do, and how much rest you get (at least a minute between each set). 

This view is shared by Dr. Mike Israetel of Renaissance Periodization but with some nuance.3


Everyone isn’t in it for muscle gains. Recommendations shift if strength is prioritized over hypertrophy:

  • Building your strength is as simple as increasing the weight you lift. However, it is suggested that you keep with 3 to 6 reps per set since using greater weights can quickly lead to muscular fatigue.
  • Size: Aim for 6 to 20 repetitions if you want strength and endurance for shirt-ripping muscles.

Do you have to decide between physical stature and power? How long you’ve been lifting weights also factors into the answer, as growing muscle with more incredible experience might be more challenging. Most weightlifters may be categorized as either

  • First-year students: The good news for beginners or those who have just started lifting for a year or two is that progress in strength and growth may be expected if you stick to the 5–12 rep range.
  • Your body will no longer respond as fast to weight training in the intermediate range. By now, though, you should know what kinds of muscle strengthening and growth workouts provide the best results for you personally. Lower reps may be preferable for big, compound lifts (such as the bench press or squat), while more excellent brokers may be preferable for isolated workouts (such as a biceps curl).
  • If you’ve been lifting for a while, you’re probably getting close to your genetic potential, and any more muscle-building will be a struggle. Changing up your routine might help prevent muscular fatigue. Strength training should be the primary focus for the next 30 days. The following month, turn to endurance training to continue challenging your muscles. 

Remember that there is no universally correct number of repetitions for improving fitness. Muscle development is one fitness objective that requires the usage of higher weights and fewer repetitions. Conversely, one can utilize less weight and more excellent reps if their fitness objective is fat loss, weight loss, or mild toning. This is one possible variation on the theme of workout repetition and should not be taken as the rule. The answer to most fitness-related inquiries, such as how many repetitions to complete or whether to consume protein before or after a workout, is often “It depends.” 

Perfect Your Workout Reps in the Gym

There are a few laws of the weight room that everyone should follow if they want to get stronger in the weight room: always wash down the equipment, always use a spotter, and know precisely how many reps you need to complete at your best before leaving the gym feeling like a champion.

Yes, that last one is flexible. But it will unquestionably assist you in keeping track of and achieving your fitness objectives. Training with a high or low number of repetitions is OK; everyone is different. You won’t find a better venue than Fitness to kick off your strength or endurance training. Whether using our free weights or participating in a group workout, our friendly staff is here to help you reach your goals.  

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