How many sets and reps do

How many sets and reps do

One of the most controversial nuances of bodybuilding and similar sports, which still does not have a single and clear answer – how many approaches and repetitions to do for each exercise. This question arises for everyone who wants to start their workouts in the gym or on the street, and the effectiveness of the classes directly depends on the correctness of the decision made. Therefore, this nuance should be considered separately and in detail, so that novice athletes can avoid some serious mistakes that can qualitatively reduce the effectiveness of the training process.

Answers eminent athletes

Naturally, such a serious and relevant question was asked to almost every athlete who reached significant heights. However, their answers did not lead to a single solution – they all called different numbers and justified them reasonably. Yes, this, in principle, is not necessary – just look at their names and photos to understand that their methodology gives significant results.

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to the most famous bodybuilder in the world, the optimal amount is 5 approaches for each exercise. He justifies this by the fact that it is possible to fully load muscle fibers, and at the same time not to achieve overtraining.
  • Mike Mentzer But the American professional bodybuilder, known in the 70-80s, calls a completely different number – only 1 approach.
  • Ronnie Coleman. The answer of another eminent American and repeated winner of the Mr. Olympia tournament: it is important to observe the principle of periodization by regularly changing the software package. But about the repetitions, his answer is more specific – 12-15 times in each approach.
  • Jay Cutler. Another “Mr. Olympia” prefers to stick to the middle ground: 2-4 working approaches, each with 8-10 repetitions.
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Even these 4 examples can show how difficult it is to achieve a concrete answer to the question of how many approaches to do. Next, consider what exactly can affect the choice of this number.

What determines the optimal number of approaches

There are several aspects that have a direct impact on how many approaches need to be done in one or another exercise. This should include:

  • individual personal parameters (weight, age, state of health, body type);
  • experience (or lack thereof) in a selected or similar sport;
  • set goals (training period – “drying” or set);
  • trained muscle group;
  • weight used;
  • amplitude of motion.

Some of the points listed above require a separate analysis to make it easier for the reader to understand the issue.

Experience in the chosen sport. How many approaches do the mass.

Naturally, a newcomer who has come to the hall cannot independently determine how many approaches to do on the mass or how many repetitions to do on the relief. And as we have seen, each athlete has his own answer to this. To determine among the existing set of options can only be one way: independently verify in practice. Only when you exercise for several months (and often years) will you be able to understand how many repetitions to do in how many approaches should be in your case. So do not be afraid to experiment, and periodically change training programs, be sure to record the process in your own diary.

In order to make it easier for beginners to decide at the beginning, here is the most common answer that many athletes use in their work: 3-4 approaches, each with 8-12 repetitions. You can start your training precisely with such numbers – it is quite possible that they will prove to be effective for you, and you will not have to change them in the future. Well, in the future, you yourself will be able to determine, for example, how many approaches to do on the mass and so on.

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Trained muscle group

Each muscle group reacts differently to loads, and, therefore, needs a different number of them. For this reason, we vary the number of repetitions and approaches in different exercises. For example, if you ask how many approaches to do in the press, how many repetitions in each, you will probably hear a fairly large number. Many athletes prefer to train the press in an intensive and serious mode, performing 15-50 reps (depending on the experience of the lessons) in 3-5 approaches – in most cases, “cubes” are much more likely to manifest themselves precisely from such significant loads. For this reason, many answers to the question “how many repetitions to do on the press” have such significant figures.

It’s quite another matter if you want to know how many repetitions to do for biceps. Here the average indicator varies from 5 to 12 times in each of 3-4 approaches. Approximately the same number is relevant for triceps, chest and shoulders.

For the back, many athletes prefer to raise the bar slightly – on average, performing 7-15 reps. The same thing (and often – and even more) for the muscles of the legs.


Everyone who visits the gym knows very well that the entire training process can be conditionally divided into two parts: mass gain and study of the relief. And the change in the number of approaches and repetitions is one of the main nuances that distinguishes each of these parts.

Many are interested in how many repetitions to do on a mass, and how many on a relief. Again, there is no universal answer – for each athlete this number can be different, and you can determine the number only after intensive and lengthy training. However, an approximate indicator, which is used by many athletes, has long been deduced. It is generally accepted that:

  • for muscle building: 3-4 approaches, 5-10 reps, large / maximum working weight;
  • for working out the relief: 3-5 approaches, 8-15 repetitions, average / minimum working weight.
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These numbers can be safely called universal – the vast majority of trainees use them, and thus achieve significant results.

Amplitude of motion

A nuance that is relevant for already experienced athletes involved in more than one year. When training according to standard principles and programs has already been tested, and the result has ceased to improve rapidly, there is a need to experiment with various options for performing exercises. Changing the range of motion is one way to make progress in some exercises. In particular, it can be used for:

  • bench press exercises;
  • bending the arms for biceps;
  • extension of the arms to triceps;
  • pull-ups / rods of the upper block.

For most other exercises, changing the amplitude is not so relevant, and even vice versa – not too reasonable.

Amplitude reduction is usually performed in order to emphasize the load on the main working muscles, and / or to exclude assisting groups from work as much as possible. This allows you to perform an increased number of repetitions in each approach, or vice versa – to do the same number of repetitions, but increase the number of approaches.

Most often, this technique is used to work out the peak of the biceps – not fully extending the arms, we create a constant load on those parts of it that are responsible for the growth of muscle in height. In this case, the answer to the question “how many approaches to biceps do” may change a little: instead of the usual amount (for example, 3-4), try increasing it to 5-6 (provided that the number of repetitions and working weight do not change). Usually, these numbers are great for a significant portion of athletes.

Samuel Mitchell