This article will reveal scientifically what number of sets you need to do in order to construct muscle.
It is suggested that one should carry out many exercises in each workout until indications of excessive training like tiredness, joint discomfort, and a failure to advance arise, then decrease the intensity of their training to a level just under this point.
Some people think that the most effective and healthy way to gain muscle mass and strength is to adopt a minimalist methodology, doing only a few exercises (possibly even just one) every week.
The right answer? Somewhere in the middle.
You should do enough sets to make progress, but not so many that gym attendance becomes a burden and you’re unable to keep increasing the weight.
What is this magic number of sets, then?
Read on to find out.
What Are “Sets” and “Reps?”
Doing a single motion with weight, from the lowest point to the highest point and back again, is called a rep.
For instance, if you’re performing barbell squats, the act of sitting down into the lowest position of the squat, then rising back up, counts as a single repetition.
Doing multiple repetitions of an exercise in a row without taking a break is known as a set. If you’ve been assigned a workout that requires 3 sets of 10 bench presses, you’ll begin by taking off the bar, completing 10 repetitions, and then resting before racking it back up. Once you have completed all of the sets, you will be done.
There are other, more complex practices like rest-pause training and cluster sets where one does a few reps (forming a set) then rests, and would repeat the cycle.
How Many Sets Should You Do to Gain Muscle and Strength?
The amount of sets you should include in your workouts is contingent on what you aim to accomplish, and since you are reading this, it is reasonable to say you are likely interested in increasing muscle size and power.
Before beginning a weightlifting program, it is important to consider what the desired outcome is. Ask yourself, “What is the reason for weight training?” Figure out what it is about lifting weights that will have a positive impact on muscle growth.
In a word, tension.
Delivering higher levels of mechanical strain to your muscles over a prolonged period of time is the most influential factor in muscular growth. Perform that activity and your muscles will increase in size and strength without fail.
This is called progressive resistance overload, and the easiest way of achieving it is to lift heavier weights over time for a specified exercise within a certain number of reps. As an illustration, if you were able to bench press 185 lbs for 5 repetitions at the peak of last summer, and you can now press 235 lbs for the same amount of reps, it’s likely that your chest, arms, and shoulders have become bigger.
Lifting heavy weights is essential for gaining muscle, however, it alone is not enough. You won’t improve much if you try to lift the heaviest amounts of weight possible for one repetition only a few times a week.
Results from a study done by researchers at the University of Mississippi showcased that even when young, inexperienced men tried lifting heavy weights for 5 sets consisting of 1 rep twice weekly for 8 weeks, they experienced hardly any increase in muscle size.
The cause for this is that your muscles need to be exposed to an adequate amount of stress in order to stimulate muscle development. You must find the optimal combination of intensity (how taut each set is) and volume (sets for each muscle group in a week).
Provided that you keep increasing the weight of your exercises, the amount of sets you complete will be proportionate to the amount of muscular strength and endurance you will obtain, however, this has a limit.
An investigation from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul discovered that weightlifters who did 5 sets per exercise per workout had more muscle and strength than those who did fewer sets during each session.
How Many Sets Should You Do to Lose Fat?
Many individuals with the intention of shedding pounds select to enhance the amount of sets they do in their weight training exercises. They see the equation as straightforward: doing additional repetitions will increase the number of calories burned, resulting in faster weight loss.
While this is sort of true—assuming you keep eating the same amount, doing more sets will burn more calories and thus help you lose weight faster—there are three reasons it’s unwise to try to lose weight by doing more sets:
- Weightlifting doesn’t burn that many calories. In most cases, a weightlifting workout that lasts around 45-to-60 minutes will burn about ~300-to-400 calories. Thus, if you add a few sets to your weightlifting workouts, you may only burn an extra 50-to-100 calories (and that’s assuming those are heavy sets of compound exercises like deadlifts—the numbers would be much smaller for isolation exercises like curls).
- Increasing the number of sets you do in your strength training workouts is a recipe for burnout, stagnation, and injury. Instead, you should gradually ratchet up the number of sets you do per week, adding a handful of sets to a few exercises and sticking with that for several months before adding any more.
- As explained earlier in this article, doing too many sets interferes with your ability to gain muscle and strength, and this effect is magnified when you’re in a calorie deficit. By doing too many sets, you may interfere with your ability to gain muscle and strength.
At the end of the day, it should not be viewed as a way to shed pounds by engaging in weightlifting. View this as an opportunity to enhance your physical appearance by building or sustaining muscle mass while decreasing body fat. To keep a caloric shortage, the most ideal approach is to become knowledgeable in healthy eating habits and perform a reasonable measure of cardiovascular exercises to consume a few additional calories.
The purpose of weightlifting when trying to reduce body fat is the same as it is when attempting to keep steady or bulk up, hence you should begin by doing 10 to 20 sets of each muscle group every week and adapt accordingly depending on your body’s reaction. Many individuals discover that they have to reduce their workout amount a bit as they progress further into a cut, but if you feel okay, there is no need to do so.
The Four Different Types Of Rep Ranges
In general, there are four different ways you can split up your training:
- Are you working out to build muscle?
- to get stronger?
- to develop maximum strength?
- or to improve your endurance?
Focus on one at a time. Attempting to accomplish multiple tasks at the same time can often result in unsatisfactory outcomes.
Let’s go over them one by one.
1.) Muscular Endurance:
The capacity to keep your muscle functioning over an extended period of time without getting tired is known as muscular endurance. This would be perfect for you if you like doing cardiovascular workouts that last a while, such as CrossFit, rowing, and swimming.
Endurance responds best to high reps.
2.) Muscular Hypertrophy:
Muscle enlargement through growth and strengthening is the process of developing bigger muscles. If you want to make your glute muscles larger or create some definition in your back, then you need to focus on hypertrophy exercises.
Hypertrophy responds best to a moderate rep range.
3.) General Muscular Strength:
The capacity to pick up greater amounts of weight in comparison to one’s own body weight is referred to as general strength. Everyone should achieve a minimum baseline level of strength.
General strength training is important because it can:
- Help build strong bones and decreases your risk of osteoporosis
- Make it easier for you to do everyday activities
- Can lead to an improvement in body image, even without physical changes in your appearance
In order to increase strength, one must lift heavy weights with only a few repetitions.
4.) Maximal Strength:
Maximal strength is the capacity to lift the heaviest weight possible. This is not suitable for people who are just starting out.
Once you have a year’s worth of experience in exercise, if you aspire to compete in strength sports like powerlifting, Olympic weight lifting, and strong man, you ought to concentrate on achieving maximum strength. If you would like to know your maximum ability to lift a weight once, you can do this range of reps two to three times per year.
Keep most of your workouts focused on increasing muscle size and strength through regular repetitions.
Is It Better To Lift Heavy Or Do More Reps?
If you’re aiming to develop considerable muscular strength, you must lift weights of a heavier weight. If your primary goal is to increase muscle mass, you don’t need to lift incredibly heavy weights.
The rule of thumb is this:
You should select a weight that is not too light so that you can meet your desired rep range, but not too heavy that you are unable to reach the minimum number of reps with proper form.
You should try to make sure that you are able to complete one more repetition than you actually do on every set.
What does this mean?
This suggests avoiding going to your maximum while doing sets. Try your hardest to ensure there is something remaining from each set.
How Many Reps Is Too Many? Can You Do Too Many?
It is feasible to execute too many repetitions in one set. Too much of a blessing can be a curse. It’s probably not advisable to do more than 20 repetitions in a single set. Doing this amount of repetitions in one go will not be as beneficial as it would be if fewer were done.
If it is easy for you to perform more than 20 repetitions with a certain weight, then that might suggest that you are utilizing a weight that is too light for any meaningful muscle growth to occur. The sole exception to this regulation is twenty-repetition squats!
Lots of folks have managed to build up quite a bit of power and bulk by undertaking 20-rep squat regimens, however, this sort of workout plan is certainly not suitable for those with a low tolerance for physical strain.