A Complete Beginners Guide To Sets & Reps

What Are Reps?

When it comes to strength training, (also known as weightlifting and resistance training) ‘reps’ or ‘repetitions’ refers to the number of times you complete a single exercise before taking a break or resting.

When completing a resistance workout – for example, a bicep curl with a barbell – each time you lift your weight and bring it back down is equal to one rep. This makes reps a great way to keep track of your workouts.

What Is  A Set?

A set is when you complete several reps of a specific exercise in a row. It is a very common workout strategy to complete a planned number of sets for each exercise with time built in for a short rest between each one of these sets.

For example – a strength training workout plan might include doing 3 sets of 12 reps with a minute rest in between each set.

Why Use Sets & Reps?

Sets and reps are a great way to organise your workouts and they can be very useful in calculating your baseline strength while measuring your progress.

Understanding your rep and set goals every time you exercise can give you some extra motivation when you feel like giving up. On top of this, following a reasonable rep and set goals for your fitness level can help you reduce your chances of injuring yourself from overdoing it.

Beginners Guide To Sets & Reps

How Many Sets & Reps Should You Do?

There are a few factors you need to consider before deciding how many reps and sets you should complete with your exercises.

If you are a beginner in weight training, then it is always a good idea to meet with a certified personal trainer who can help you understand your fitness goals and help create a plan of action – understandably, this is not an option for everyone, so you should not let this hold you back from working out!

The goal is to work your muscles to the point of fatigue – this is when the deep muscle fibers start building more strength. Depending on your base level of strength and the size of the weights you use, the number of reps and sets will vary – so it is important not to just copy the number of reps and sets your friend is doing, as that might not work for you.

The general rule of thumb is to lift lighter weights for a higher amount of reps, then lift heavier weights for a lower number of reps. Each of these sets should consist of the number of reps you can manage using the correct form before you start to compromise your form – then you should take a planned rest between each of these sets to allow yourself to recover. For example: if you can correctly do a bicep curl for 8 reps before your form starts to falter – then plan to do 8 reps per set.

High Reps With Low Weight Vs Low Reps With High Weight

The number of reps and sets you should do will depend on your current strength, the amount of weight you are using, and your specific goals;

  • If your goal is to improve all over health and fitness – try starting out with lighter weights and see how many reps you are able to complete with good form. Then take a rest, and try another set or two with the same amount of reps.
  • If your goal is to increase functional strength – use heavier weights with lower reps and sets.
  • If your goal is to build definition and bulk – use heavier weights with a moderate level of reps and sets.
  • You can also read our blog on Functional Vs Traditional Strength Training here.

To Sum It Up

Reps, or repetitions, are the action of one complete strength training exercise, such as one bicep curl.

Sets are how many reps you do in a row between resting.

Reps and sets are a great way to guide and structure your workouts while helping you pinpoint and achieve your fitness goals with more control!