How many repetitions per set should I do to achieve my Strength and Conditioning goals?

Weight Lifting Repetition

While working as a personal trainer in Hong Kong for the past 13 years, I have been asked this question many times. The answer is it depends on the goal. There is a lot of misconceptions and information out there. This can cause confusion and a lack of progress in the gym when planning your athletic training programs.

The number of repetitions per set you choose is a highly important variable to consider when designing successful strength and conditioning programs. Most people do not get maximum return on the time and effort they invest due to inadequate programing.

  1. Not enough variety:. Using the same repetition scheme for too long (3×10) will lead to staleness and boredom.
  2. Too much variety: Changing the number of repetitions per set you do every workout will lead to a lack of progress. Example: 5×5 on Mondays, 3×15 on Wednesdays, 3×10 on Fridays.
    Progress is very slow and most people end up giving up.
    The body needs clear messages.
  3. Not training to muscular failure: Example: most gym goers stop at 10 repetitions with a weight they could lift 20 times. There is no reason for the body to adapt and change.
  4. Poor technique:. This leads to injuries.
  5. Inadequate rest periods between sets:. There is inverse relationship between the number of repetition performed per set and the length of the rest periods needed between sets. For the body to adapt and improve, Each set must be taken to failure.
Weight Lift Training
Dumble Training

We plan our strength and conditioning programs 12 weeks in advance. Each phase is 3-4 weeks long.

This is a 12 week plan for a client who’s main goal is fat loss:

  • Week 1-3: 15-20 repetitions (45s rest between sets) Fat Loss
  • Week 4-6: 10-12 repetitions (75s rest between sets) Muscle Growth
  • Week 7-9: 12-15 repetitions (60s rest between sets) Fat Loss
  • Week 10-12: 7-9 repetitions (90s rest between sets) Functional Strength

Find out what the optimal combination of sets and repetitions is for you to achieve your personal fitness goals.

RAW Personal TrainingHow many repetitions per set should I do to achieve my Strength and Conditioning goals?