Reps and Sets For Gym Goals

posted by stevewatson77 August 4, 2016 0 comments
reps and sets for gym goals

New to the gym? Or just interested in creating a new training program? Here is your guide to finding the perfect Rep&Set formula for you.

The ideal amount of reps and sets you complete depends on a few things;

What Is Your Body Type?
Genetically, our bodies take 3 basic shapes. The Ectomorph (skinny) body type should aim to complete 6 reps per set, Mesomorph (muscular) body types should aim for 8-10 reps per set, and Endomorph (round) body types should aim to complete 12-14 reps per set.

What Are Your Fitness Goals?

Similarly to your body type, if you are an endomorph aiming to lose weight – completing more repetitions will be more effective for burning fat (reduce the weight if needs be). In contrast, an ectomorph may want to gain muscle and as a result should complete less repetitions, but of a heavier weight to ensure the muscles are strengthened.

It’s important to remember that each rep should be completed slowly and controlled in order to grow muscles. This is because your muscles will need to be under tension in order to increase their strength and ability to produce force. A lot of personal trainers recommend using the 2-1-3 method of tempo when lifting: 2 seconds under tension on the way up, a 1 second pause, then 3 seconds under tension on the way down. The intensity you train also contributes to development – I recommend training at 70% of your maximum weight at 10 reps for hypertrophy, and 90% of your maximum weight at 6 reps for strength.

What Sport Do You Do? (If Relevant)

Different physiques are required for different sports. Of course, good core strength and a basic level of fitness is required, but the fitness goals of a rugby player will differ significantly from a cricketer for example. Sports which require less physical strength such as cricket should look at doing more reps of a lighter weight to improve muscle endurance and ensure they remain lean and toned. In contrast, highly physical sports such as rugby require more strength and power and should therefore be more hypertrophy focused. This involves lifting heavier weights for a smaller amount of reps (6-8).

The Benefits Of 5x5s

5x5s are quite simply, 5 sets of 5 reps with the same weight. The main aim of routines like this is to increase the weight each workout – improving strength and size. As a result, you should start on a reasonably comfortable weight and aim to progress by 2.5kg with each workout. The program involves 5 exercises forming 2 full body workouts;

  • Workout A: Squat, Bench Press, Barbell Row
  • Workout B: Squat, Overhead Press, Deadlift

The optimal time to complete these exercises is every other day, alternating between the 2 workouts. Be sure to have a rest day between each workout to ensure your muscles can recover stronger than before.

The Verdict

So with these in mind, you are now ready to tailor your workout to your own personal goals. However, it is important to remember that although lifting heavier weights is key for building muscle, doing more repetitions of lower weights can also have the same effect. Hence why you see people doing their last set of an exercise until failure. The other hugely important influencer on your physique is diet. Remember that you can try to build as much muscle as you want, but if you are burning more calories than you are eating, it’s unlikely you’ll see results. The same goes for weight loss goals, if you are consuming more calories than you are burning, it will be very difficult to achieve the results you want.


HealthKart (2016) Endomorph bodybuilding- fat loss done the right way! Available at: (Accessed: 26 July 2016).

Perry, M., CSCS and Founder, C. (2012) High reps vs. Low reps: Which is better? Available at: (Accessed: 27 July 2016).

Guest post by Will Wood -Leeds Becket Student

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