Did you know that sets and reps differ depending on your fitness goal? For instance, if you want to “lean out” or “tone,” then you want to use lighter weights for higher repetitions. If you are looking to develop explosive power, then you will not benefit much from lifting light weights for higher repetitions. Your muscle fibers need to be trained a certain way to achieve maximum results.
Exercise periodization is important for everyone that is lifting weights, and especially important for those training for a sport, race, or competition. If you are in-season for your sport, you would not want to train heavy since you have practice and games often throughout the week. Your goal in-season would be to maintain your strength. When you are in your off-season, you can focus on gaining muscle mass, strength, and power and lift heavy. This table will help give you a breakdown for the different training goals.
Exercise Training Goals
|Training Goal||Frequency||Intensity||Volume||Rest Time|
|Power||1-2x a week||85-95%||1-2 sets of 1-4 reps||4-6 minutes|
|Strength||3-4x a week||75-85%||3-4 sets of 4-8 reps||2-3 minutes|
|Hypertrophy||4-6x a week||60-75%||4-6 sets of 8-12 reps||30-90 seconds|
|Endurance||5-7x a week||<60%||5-7 sets of 12-15 reps||<30 seconds|
As you can see, those who have a goal to increase their overall power will train at a very high intensity for lower repetitions. Power exercises incorporate multiple muscle groups and use a lot of energy to perform the repetitions. Therefore, the sets and reps are lower and the rest time in-between sets is higher to allow the body adequate time to recover.
If your fitness goal is to gain strength, you will train more often during the week with an intensity less than someone training to gain power. Since the intensity is not as high, your rest time in between sets will be less than someone training to gain power. A typical strength training workout would focus on 3-4 sets of 4-8 repetitions. You want to make sure you are using weight that is challenging during those 4-8 repetitions.
The hypertrophy training goal means you are looking to put on “size.” The sets and repetitions are higher than the previous two training goals, however the intensity is lower. Since you are not using as heavy of weight, your rest time in between sets is only 30-90 seconds. It is very important to stay within the rest time to achieve maximum results.
Endurance training is for those who are looking to “lean out,” lose weight, and training for endurance activities. Since you are using much lighter weights and aiming for higher repetitions, your rest time is very short. You will notice you can perform up to 5-7 sets of these exercises compared to the 1-2 sets for power training.
Beginning a Workout Program
If you are just beginning a workout program, you would want to start training for muscle endurance first. The guidelines are slightly different for those beginning a workout program. Many people have never done any type of weight training in their past, or have taken months/years off from training and need to ease their body into the training. The guidelines for beginners is to perform 8-10 different exercises for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Listen to your body. If you are struggling to complete 10 repetitions on your first set, you may have too heavy of weight, or your muscles may be that weak. Rule of thumb for starting is to do what you can but push yourself a little.
Rest is VERY IMPORTANT!!! When you exercise, you actually break down the muscle cells and fibers. It is during the rest period that your muscles truly build themselves back up and gain strength. That is why you never want to train the same muscle groups back to back days. If you trained your legs today, you want to make sure you DO NOT lift legs tomorrow. Your muscles need a good 48 hours of rest to recover. Also, listen to your body. If you are exhausted one day of the week, it is sometimes better to take the day off from lifting, than push your body and risk injury.
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**Disclaimer: I performed this analysis between different protein bars on my own and all opinions are 100% my own.**