You master the exercises you need to build muscles, strength and endurance. But you don't know how many sets and reps you should do. You are not the only one. And it's best to inquire before attempting any hard training. Most people confuse over-training with hard training. They are not the same thing at all, and sometimes less is more.


In order to properly plan your weight training volume (sets, reps, exercises), you need to you need to understand that higher reps require lighter weight, while heavier weights require lower reps. It's a simple principle to keep in mind, but which one is better?


You have to build your workout plan around the intensity of your session and the fitness goals you are aiming for. What all combinations have in common are 2 things:


  • If you do fewer reps, you do more sets. If you do more reps, you do fewer sets.
  • Even if you do a few sets and more reps or more reps and fewer sets, the total amount of reps will be about the same. What defines the reps/sets structure is the number of rests you take in between sets.

 

 

Hypertrophy-Specific Training


If your goal is to increase your muscle size, then you must choose a weight with which you can complete 8 to 12 reps. If you can do less than 8 reps with the weight you selected, that means it is too heavy for you and you need to go for a lighter weight. If you can easily do more than 12 reps with the weight you chose, it means that it is too light for you and you need to increase the weight.


You can easily increase your muscle size by choosing the proper load for you and planning the right training volume you are about to do. Of course, proper nutrition and gym gear play a key role into this as well. For example, compression gear for the upper body, while providing full-torso protection, will also exert pressure on your muscles and increase blood flow, which is a much needed quality for muscle growth.


A proper set of reps is one which you can do to failure. Meaning that you need to take your rest before performing another set.  Choose multi-joint exercises for your size-building session (deadlift, bench press, bent-over row, etc.) because they recruit more muscle mass than single-joint exercises, and that allows you to lift heavier weights.


Reps and Sets Combinations:


  • High to Moderate Intensity
  • 5 sets x 5 reps =  25 reps

    4 sets x 6 reps = 24 reps


  • Moderate Intensity
  • 3 sets x 8 reps = 24 reps

    4 sets x 8 reps = 32 reps

    3 sets x 10 reps = 30 reps


  • Moderate to Low Intensity
  • 4 sets x 10 reps = 40 reps

    2 sets x 12 reps = 24 reps

    3 sets x 12 reps = 36 reps


  • Low Intensity
  • 2 sets x 15 reps = 30 reps


    Rest for 45 seconds to 2 minutes in between your sets.

     

     

    Strength Training


    Strength training is very much powerlifting at its finest. If your goal is to increase your strength, then you want to increase the weight as well. Heavier weights stimulate the body's need to grow stronger in order to resist the load. Choose a load that feels more challenging.


    For this kind of training, you need to select loads that you can lift in 1-6 reps only, before you take you rest in between sets. Avoid doing sets to failure, because after such an exercise you will need to to additional ones that strengthen the weak spots that are needed in the execution of the main lift.


    Strength training, especially powerlifting techniques can be very painful and hard on your legs. So, wearing compression shorts or leggings will definitely relieve pain during and more importantly, after your workout. This will make your rest day less painful and you will be at your finest for the next workout.


    Reps and Sets Combinations:


  • High Intensity

  • 8 sets x 3 reps = 24 reps

    6 sets x 4 reps = 24 reps

    3 sets x 5 reps = 15 reps


  • High to Moderate Intensity
  • 5 sets x 5 reps =  25 reps

    4 sets x 6 reps = 24 reps


  • Moderate Intensity

  • 3 sets x 8 reps = 24 reps

    4 sets x 8 reps = 32 reps


    Rest for 3-5 minutes in between your sets.

     

     

    Endurance Training


    Endurance training is low-intensity, and because oxygen plays an important part in maintaining your energy levels, it is also considered aerobic exercise. This low-intensity training allows you to maintain your activity levels for a longer period of time. This sort of training doesn't necessarily increase muscle size, but it does allow you to maintain activity levels for a longer period of time, and that enhances the muscle's endurance.


    For this, you will need to select lighter weights for you to be able to perform 15-20 reps, or even more. Your rest in between sets will be shorter too. Runners are a great example of endurance training at its finest! So, whether you run or go hard on your leg day, consider wearing a pair of compression shorts for increased blood flow and a faster recovery.


    Reps and Sets Combinations:


  • Moderate Intensity
  • 3 sets x 10 reps = 30 reps


  • Moderate to Low Intensity
  • 4 sets x 10 reps = 40 reps

    2 sets x 12 reps = 24 reps

    3 sets x 12 reps = 36 reps


  • Low Intensity
  • 2 sets x 15 reps = 30 reps

    2 sets x 20 reps = 40 reps


    Rest for 30-45 seconds in between your sets.

     

     

    Training to Failure


    If you train to failure during a set, you will undoubtedly stimulate muscle growth, but that will also leave you fatigued and sore for days, and it can negatively affect the workouts ahead. Never take your sets past the point of form breakdown.


    Keep failure training for smaller exercises and muscles, such as curls and calf raises. Only allow yourself to fail at the very last set of an exercise or when you are doing only one set. Of course, strength testing to failure is another thing and you only perform it in order to break your PR and make a show, but that's not part of your routine.


    Training to failure can even cause permanent damage to your muscles. That form of abuse will traumatize your muscles beyond repair, no matter how long you will rest for them to repair. Your muscles will become unable to grow and that is not a desirable outcome. So don’t fail at failing! Protect yourself with compression gear, leggings and shirts that are designed to relieve pain, protect the muscle against trauma and keep them warm for high intensity training sessions.

     

     

    How long should it last?


    Your training should last 30 to 45 minutes. If you’re training for over 60 minutes, you are either talking too much or over-training. Don't over-train your muscles, because the costs and effects are the same as those of training to failure. Do an average of 3 exercises per muscle group if you can, but don't overdo it. A 60 minutes session should include your 5-10 minutes warm-up and stretch, before and after your workout.

     

     

    Switch it Up!


    To stay fit, you must think FITT: frequency, intensity, time and type. Change up one or two of these every 4 to 6 weeks. However, don't do the same exercises for the same muscles. Assign your days of the week to the muscle groups you want to train, and vary your load and exercise type. Alternate between single-joint movements and multi-joint movements. Increase and decrease the weight as you do more sets with lower reps and fewer sets with higher reps.



    As long as you choose the proper load for you, it is easy to plan and grow from there. Remember that higher reps are more appropriate for endurance training, while lower reps suit higher intensity workouts better. It’s important to note that the type of exercise you choose should vary. Don’t perform the same thing every time because you expose yourself to overuse injuries.



    Training is an entire process, not a one-time thing, so don’t overdo it. Never go beyond failure and over-train your muscles, as that can cause irreparable damage to them. Every time you do a set, think about how that should help, not hinder your future workouts. Don’t pay the cost of fatigue for a one-time show off. Follow these instructions and remember to think FITT, and you will be FIT!


    In order to apply what you’ve learnt in this article, click here! Learn how to maximize your weight training results with minimum time. Use your knowledge about your weight training volume to achieve your goals with minimum effort!