How many sets and repetitions should I do?

Two of the most important variables of a good training plan

Series and repetitions in the gym, how many do I have to have good results?

The number of sets and repetitions is a fundamental part of any training plan, although it is often left to chance.

Normally 2 or 3 series per exercise and between 10 to 12 repetitions. For everything.

Although there is no magic number, we will present you with a guide to help you organize the teu plan effectively, and above all, to adapt in accordance with the your situation.

Before we get to the number of sets and repetitions, there is one factor we need to address first.

Let's start then.

Number of weekly workouts

First, you need to set the number of times you will train weekly.

Only then should you decide the number of sets and repetitions you are going to do.


Imagine two friends, Antonio and José.

Both want to win muscle mass, but while António decides to go training five times a week, José has little time available and can only go three times.

They talk to Joaquim, the instructor of the gymnasium, and lead with the same ABC training.

Os exercises are the same and the number of sets and repetitions too.

António would have a much higher training volume, and if he was well organized, probably better results.

This does not mean that José is condemned to have less results than António, or that António will necessarily have better results than his friend.

This means that it is essential to know the number of workouts per week to decide the number of sets and repetitions to use.

That is, José who will train less times a week, should do more repetitions and sets per training, while Antonio can more easily distribute the required volume per week.

By reaching a similar volume per week, Jose would be able to achieve results similar to Antonio, going to the gym less often, but with more effort per training.

António, on the other hand, did not risk giving up after two weeks because he could not recover between each training.

In short, to define the number of sets and repetitions you will be doing per workout, you need to know how many workouts you are going to do per week.

sets and repetitions in the gym

Number of repetitions

Once you have set the number of times you want to go to the gym, you can now move to the number of repetitions.

First of all, don't forget that there is no magic number, but there are numbers that will give you a good basis to build your plan.

For hypertrophy the ideal is to use between 80 to 210 repetitions per week for each muscle.

Warning, this is the number of repetitions per week, not necessarily per workout.

The more advanced you are, the more reps you will need, but if you now move to the gym, 80 reps is a good starting point.

You can split these repetitions into two workouts, and according to studies, it's better to train the muscle twice a week instead of just once.

This does not mean that it is mandatory to do so, and it is possible to have good results by training only once.

Finally, larger muscles such as the legs need more training, while smaller muscles like the biceps, less.

You will already see below one of the reasons.

Now that you know the number of repetitions you should do per week, you need to set the number of sets.

Again, there is no right number, but for hypertrophy the ideal is to use between 6 to 12 repetitions per set in most exercises.

This equates to about 70% to 80% of your maximum repetition.

In practice it means that you are going to use a load that will give you some difficulties in the last repetitions, and in which in the last repetition you managed to do at most one more repetition, and sometimes, no more.

For more accurate results, you can also calculate your maximum repetition for the various exercises.

This will ensure that you are training at a good intensity to evolve.

Attention, although failure can sometimes be used, it should not be a constant, and you should not fail in all sets of all exercises.


Pedro has been in the gym for 6 months and has already noticed some results.

He will now start a new plan, and has chosen to do 120 reps weekly to work his chest, and use 10 reps in each set.

This means that Pedro can choose to do 3 exercises, with 4 series in each or 4 exercises with 3 series in each.

This can be done in just one weekly workout, or divided into two workouts.

The 10 reps are just one example, and the idea is to hit the 120 reps within the 6 through 12 reps to get a good intensity.


Although the recommendation is between 6 to 12 reps, this does not mean that you cannot go above or below this number, just that much of your training should be done on this number of reps.

You can sometimes use lower repetitions to work the force, and sometimes higher repetitions, which also have some advantages.

Finally, if you like to do a half-weight warm-up series before, that series doesn't count for the weekly total.

sets and repetitions

80 to 210 repetitions per muscle, is that it?

Yes and no.

There is another important factor to consider.

When you do bench press, you are working not only the chest but also the shoulders and the Triceps significantly.

What does this mean?

You must take into account the muscles used by the exercises you choose.

When you do a bar stroke for the costas You also work your biceps, but when you do curl sitting biceps, you don't work your back.

This does not mean that you do not need, or should not, work the small muscles, only that you must adapt your training, and reduce the amount of repetition for these muscles.

gym dumbbells


There are no magic numbers, but as you can see, there are bases to help you build an effective training plan.

Depending on the time you have in the gym, you should bet on 80 to 210 repetitions per muscle, and take into account the muscles worked in each exercise.

What's more, it's best to work most of the time in the field of 6 to 12 reps per set, and find out what works best for you.

There are muscles that respond better to low repetitions, while others to higher repetitions.


Finally you have the question how many times you should train each muscle a week, and studies indicate that twice are better than one.

Some prefer one, and some prefer two or even three.

The truth is that the more advanced you are, the more training volume you need, and dividing that volume into two workouts has several advantages.

Use these numbers as a reference to create your training plan, but be sure to evaluate what works best for you, and use it to your advantage.


The figures presented in this article are based in part on the analysis by authors Mathias Wernbom and Jesper Augustsson this article, and the adaptations and data used in the book The Muscle and Strength Pyramid Training by authors Eric Helms, Andy Morgan, and Andrea Valdez.

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  1. Very good!
    Clarifies any kind of doubt, and I'm sure wye vsu be very useful for a lot of people, I speak for myself :)

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