how many reps should i doThe number of reps and sets, also known as volume, of a workout is crucial. Many people ask: “How many reps should I do?”

Before deciding on an answer to this question you need to determine your goal.  This article will help you find the rep range and type of workout that is best for you.

Goal: “I want to lose weight and tone up.”

If this is your goal then using  higher reps in an exercise circuit would most likely be best for you.  A circuit is when a person moves from exercise to exercise with no rest and usually does a lighter weight for a higher amount of reps (10-15+ reps).  Because there is no rest, a person’s heart rate is elevated and they burn more calories during the workout.  They also will receive some of the benefits of strength training, most particularly in the form of muscular endurance.

This type of workout is not great for strength and hypertrophy, but if fat loss is your main goal this would be for you!

Goal: “I want to get bigger and gain more muscle.”

If hypertrophy, or getting bigger, is your goal you would benefit from a high volume of exercise with a rep range of around 8-12.  Your rest times between your exercises should be fairly short. (approximately 1-2 minutes.)

You also would benefit from building your work capacity.  This means gradually adding more sets to your workouts over time.  As you increase the volume it will induce hypertrophy.

Be patient! It takes quite awhile to build your capacity for work.  This is not something that will happen over night.  It takes years to build significant size.  Rushing this will only result in getting hurt.  So again I urge you: be patient.

Goal: “I want to get stronger”

If gaining strength is your goal working with high volume in a low rep range is crucial.  Strength is not usually dependent on the amount of muscle a person has, it is dependent on the body’s ability to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible during a specific lift.  This means a person need to train the nervous system.

To do this a person should use a heavy weight in the rep range (1-5).  He or she should also do multiple sets (at least 4) and rest times should be fairly long (3-5 minutes).  This will ensure that the muscle groups being worked are not fatigued and you can get maximal muscle contraction and recruitment on every set of every rep.

What’s best for you?

Before you decide that, I want to stress that a good workout program always cover the spectrum.  This means no one should be doing just one of these types of workouts.  A person should also be continually changing his or her rep ranges.  The body adapts pretty quickly to a work load (typically around 3 weeks) and once it adapts it will cease to change.  For more on this check out this article on Periodization and Tempo.

So what do you want to achieve from working out?  Leave a comment below and discuss it with us!

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