How many reps should I do when lifting weights?

Want results? Know how many sets and reps will help you get them!

How Many Sets Should I do? And… How many reps are best?

Want to make the workout count? It’s all about the reps and sets. Get those right and you’ll get the results you’re looking for.

Workout routines are typically broken into sets and reps (repetitions) either in a rotation with other exercises, or with a short rest between sets of the same exercise. But the 2 questions below are often asked, and for good reason! Let’s dive in.

How many sets should you do? That partly depends on how many exercises you’ll be doing in one workout to target the major muscle group. Typically, if you’re working a muscle group with only one exercise, you’ll want to do 3-4 sets. If you’ve got a few exercises for the same muscle group in one routine, you might keep each exercise to 2 sets per exercise, because in that case you’d be working that muscle group a total of 4 sets.

For example, if you’re working your biceps with only curls, knock out 4 sets of them. But, if you’re doing traditional curls and also a squat-hammer curl combo, you might keep it to 2 sets each. If your biceps are feeling fatigued by the end of your last set, you’ve nailed it!

How many Reps should you do in each Set? That depends on your weight selection.

Guidelines:

  • Heavy/extra heavy weights – 6-8 reps
  • Medium weights – 10-12 reps
  • Light weights – high reps (up to 20-25)

The last few reps of any set you should feel a burn (the good kind) and/or struggle a little to complete the rep. That’s how you know you’ve done enough, when you get to the point where it’s challenging. Remember to always listen to your body and keep proper form. If your form is breaking down, you’re probably doing a few too many with your selected weight.

Interesting fact: at Studio SWEAT for their fusion classes, like Spin Sculpt, the trainers are coached to get in the average of 3 sets of 12 reps per major muscle group. That said, they are encouraged to switch it up sometimes by using lighter weights and bumping expected reps up to 20, or heavier weights and drop the reps to 6-8. Or… they might do 4 rounds sometimes where they’re doing more like 8-10 reps. Tomato tomahto, ya know!?

Another thing you’ll see in some great workouts (like if you’re following our trainers at Studio SWEAT onDemand) is that they’ll often use a timer and they’ll give you guidelines for your weights. If they recommend heavy, but all you’ve got is mediums, you should move a bit faster and get more reps in per set. If they say you’re going for 60-seconds, you best grab lighter weights, capiche my friends?

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