How Many Units and Reps Ought to I Do?


If this plot asked how many reps and sets should he do, what would you tell him?

When you’ve ever requested your self “Am I doing too little or too many reps and units?” then this information is for you.

This text is a part of our Strength 101 series, and we’ll present you precisely the best way to decide the variety of repetitions and units for particular workout routines, so you may construct your individual exercise routine.

It sounds straightforward, however relying in your targets, the reply to “What number of reps and units ought to I do?” can range drastically.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

We work hand-in-hand with our Online Coaching Clients to create the right exercise program that fits their targets, wants, and accessible gear

In immediately’s information on exercise programing, we’ll cowl (click on every to get proper to that reply):

The Right Variety of Reps and Units for a Exercise

As Coach Jim mentions above, “Rep” stands for “repetition” and defines one full movement of an train.

And one “set” is a consecutive variety of reps with out stopping.

And one “smorgasbord” is a buffet of meals.

(This has nothing to do with this text, nevertheless it’s a enjoyable phrase to say.)

As we talked about all through our Strength Training 101 series, what number of reps and units it is best to do is absolutely going to be dependent in your targets.

For instance, is your purpose to enhance:

  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscular hypertrophy
  • Muscular power
  • Muscular energy

Relying on what your purpose is, the units, reps, and relaxation intervals will change.

Oh, you’re simply beginning your power coaching journey?

Nicely, be sure you seize our free information, Power Coaching 101: All the pieces You Have to Know I’ll ship it to you without spending a dime if you be part of the Rise up (that’s us!). 

Alright, let’s break down reps and units for you, as a result of I can see you continue to have questions.

How Many Reps Ought to I Do?

How many reps should this lego do?

Bear in mind, “Rep” stands for “repetition” and is kind of one full train.

Like a push-up:

Here Rebel Leader Steve shows you the classic push-up.

So “2 units of 5 reps of push-ups” means, “5 consecutive push-ups, a relaxation, then one other 5 consecutive push-ups.”


If you don't know what reps and sets are, the rest of the article is going to be really confusing.


When deciding on what number of units and reps to do, it begins by asking What am I attempting to get out of this exercise?!

We’ll group totally different rep ranges into totally different targets, for:

  • Muscular endurance
  • Muscle measurement
  • General power

I’m going to share with you the generally accepted solutions, however they ALL include a HUGE caveat that I’ll share on the finish of this text.

I’m going to begin with the “broadly accepted numbers right here.”

Let’s chat concerning the following:

1) MUSCULAR ENDURANCE (long-lasting muscle)

Endurance means encouraging and coaching your muscular tissues to carry out for an prolonged time frame. This implies doing a LOT of repetitions. 

Folks concentrating on muscular endurance will purpose for a spread from 12 to twenty+ reps.

Clearly, you gained’t be capable of carry heavy quantities of weight for 20+ reps, so that you’ll be lifting lighter hundreds.

Additionally, since you’re concentrating on endurance enhancements, you need to lower the quantity of relaxation between units: 30 seconds to a minute.[1]

If you’re a runner or bicycle owner, power coaching with increased repetitions may also help your muscular tissues develop extra endurance as nicely![2]

I wonder if this kid is biking to go squat?

Reps for elevated muscular endurance: 12+

2) MUSCLE SIZE (“sarcoplasmic hypertrophy”) 

That is for folk trying to build larger muscles.

The scientific time period right here is “sarcoplasmic hypertrophy,” because it focuses on growing the quantity of sarcoplasm, the non-contractile fluid present in your muscle.

As much as 30% of your muscle’s measurement is attributed to the sarcoplasm, so specializing in such a hypertrophy helps construct total measurement (i.e., elevated cross-sectional space of the muscle).

When you’re looking to get bigger:

  • Goal a rep vary of 6 – 12 reps per set.
  • Intention for 3-5 units.
  • Relaxation time between units needs to be quick, about 60 to 90 seconds.

Reps for elevated muscle measurement: 6-12[3]

3) STRENGTH AND POWER (“myofibril hypertrophy”)

When you’re coaching for particular sports activities and simply need to get stronger with extra energy – however not essentially get larger, that is the technique for you.

Such a coaching focuses on strengthening the myofibril, the contractile a part of the muscle, therefore the identify “myofibril hypertrophy.”

For this, goal reps within the 1-5 vary. And yep, meaning you’re going to be selecting up heavy weights, focusing all that concentrated effort into only one or a number of reps.[4]

A scene from the Simpsons, someone throwing bleachers through the roof.

One thing to notice when lifting for power and energy: not solely are you stunning your muscular tissues, however you’re additionally placing a number of stress in your physique’s central nervous system (CNS).

So what does this imply?

In a manner, it means your physique’s potential to speak with its muscular tissues has grown fatigued, and efficiency might undergo.

That’s why chances are you’ll need to relaxation between 2-5 minutes on this vary.

Oh, and your CNS will adapt and change into stronger, which will probably be essential for constructing power and energy.[5]

That is how powerlifters practice:

  • Low reps
  • Excessive weight
  • Very long time between units

Since powerlifting actually taxes the central nervous system, chances are you’ll be ready 3-5 minutes between units when coaching on this vogue.

TO RECAP, these are the rep ranges you need to be contemplating:

  • Reps within the 1-5 vary construct tremendous dense muscle and power.
  • Reps within the 6-12 vary construct equal quantities of muscular energy, power, and measurement.
  • Reps within the 12+ vary primarily construct muscular endurance and measurement and in addition cardiovascular well being.

I understand it is a lot to determine, so if you’re any individual – like me – who simply needs to be informed what to do and outsource all the concern of “am I doing the fitting exercise for my targets?” I obtained you lined!

I’d like to be taught your story, after which construct a customized program that matches your targets. We’ll aid you together with your diet, your exercises, and even examine in frequently to maintain you accountable!

How Many Units Ought to I Do?

How many sets should this lego do?

As defined above, a “set” describes a bunch of repetitions carried out for an train with out stopping.

For instance, if you happen to do 10 squats proper now, you simply did 1 SET of 10 reps of squats.

So let’s speak concerning the “appropriate” variety of units per train.

The easy reply: “Do 3-5 work units of a given train.”[6]

Simply be sure you’re not compromising your type.

Steve Rogers doing a push-up (with bad form)

At the least he’s attempting!

The Nationwide Power and Conditioning Affiliation (NSCA) will break this down, suggesting the next set ranges:[7]

  • 2-3 will assist construct muscular endurance (12 to twenty+ reps)
  • 3-6 construct muscular hypertrophy (6 to 12 reps)
  • 3-5 construct muscular energy (3 to five reps)
  • 2-6 construct muscular power (lower than 6 reps)


FINE! Decide a weight that feels gentle to you, after which do 3 units of 10 reps.

(Study how much weight should I be lifting”).

After which subsequent time?

Do greater than final time:

  • Did 3 units of 10 reps of a 65 lb bench press? Do 3 units of 8 at 75 lbs this week!
  • Did 3 units of 5 pull-ups final week? Go for 3 units of 6 this week.

That’s the important thing to progressive overload, as Coach Jim explains on this article:

When you’re undecided if “3 units of 10” or “5 units of 5” is best for you, we obtained you lined.

We’ll construct a program that matches your targets, after which regulate it every month based mostly in your progress. By no means guess or marvel what you need to be doing once more.

Easy methods to Construct a Exercise Routine!

Batman knows how many reps and sets to do.

Now that you’ve got “edumacated” your self on how your particular targets affect the variety of reps per set, and what units truly are, you may build your workout program round this data.

TO RECAP, purpose for 3-5 units within the following rep rangers per train based mostly in your targets:

  1. Endurance: 12+ reps per set.
  2. Hypertrophy (larger muscular tissues): 6-12 reps per set.
  3. Power (dense, highly effective muscle): 1-5 reps per set.

Two factors price mentioning:

  • A latest examine confirmed that heavier weight for low reps created extra muscle mass than a better quantity (decrease weight for extra reps).[8]
  • Research present that body weight coaching workout routines can construct muscle, however require a LARGE variety of units per rep, and pushing oneself to absolute failure.[9]

What this implies: research counsel concentrating on heavier weight with fewer reps for large lifts like squats and deadlifts to build muscle, whereas concentrating on excessive reps to absolute failure with bodyweight exercises for muscle constructing.

Simply keep in mind to relaxation sufficient between units so that you don’t fatigue your central nervous system too unhealthy.[10]

One final level: Diet continues to be 90% of the equation!

Your rep vary doesn’t matter practically as a lot as you assume, so don’t overthunk it!

Don't overthink your sets and reps! Just do more than last time.

Listed here are some examples:

  1. When you’re attempting to build muscle and get larger, doing units of three or units of 5 or units of 10 will ALL aid you get larger, if you’re eating enough to get bigger![11]
  2. When you’re trying to lose weight, it doesn’t matter if you happen to do units of 15 or units of 5 if you’re constantly overeating by 1,000 energy a day. You’ll want to eat the right number of calories.[12]
  3. It doesn’t matter if you happen to practice like a bodybuilder, you ALSO have to eat sufficient meals to supply your muscular tissues with sufficient energy to rebuild themselves larger and stronger! That is the biggest mistake I see skinny people make when trying to bulk.

This brings me to my ultimate level: as a result of diet is 90% of the equation, your units and reps don’t matter practically as a lot as you assume they do!

All that issues? Doing MORE this exercise than the final exercise.

Bear in mind, the way you construct muscle and power and burn fats: “progressive overload.”

Yet one more rep than final time.

Even Marshall knows to go for One More each time you try your workout

Doing another set than final time.

Choosing up a weight that’s 5 lbs. heavier than final week.

So get out of your individual head, and START TODAY:

1) GET HELP: If you’d like knowledgeable steering and accountability so that you don’t have to determine all of these items by yourself, I obtained you. 

Click on the purple button under to get the main points about our wonderful on-line teaching program:


Obtain our free Power Coaching 101 Information! You get it free if you be part of our Rise up (the identify of our superior free on-line group). Join within the field under:


Bear in mind: the purpose needs to be to get stronger every exercise.

Write down what you probably did final time, after which do MORE this time.

By regularly difficult your muscular tissues to do extra, they’ll need to adapt by getting larger, stronger, burning extra energy, and many others.

There are a number of totally different truths and fallacies on plateaus and the way your muscular tissues can get “used” to figuring out and cease rising.

If that’s one thing you’re battling, right here’s a option to proceed making progress:

Spend every week in a distinct rep vary with totally different quantities of weight.

This can introduce a bit chaos into the system, which could possibly be a great factor…except you’re Batman.

Joker knows how to bring chaos into a system.

What we’re speaking about is muscle confusion idea, which is a preplanned interval of variation.[13] Not, , wandering into the gymnasium with no plan and simply doing one thing totally different each time (no matter you are feeling like doing at that second).

That gained’t assist.

However spend every week deliberating mixing it up. Then return to your frequently scheduled routine and also you’ll be proper again on observe.

Be sure you know what you need, after which design a plan to get there.


PS: If you’d like a pleasant shiny app to let you know EXACTLY what number of seps and reps to do, our shiny new app will do exactly that!

You may sign-up for a free 7-day trial to Nerd Health Journey, which is able to construct a exercise round your expertise degree!

Bounce in proper right here:


All photograph citations: Evel Knievel, Me riding a bicycle, Bicylelifter, Project Story 1/3

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