Understanding Workouts: Reps and Sets


What are Reps in a Workout?

Reps are the number of times you perform an exercise, or lift a weight. For example let’s look at barbell curls. 10 reps (repetitions) of barbell curls would involve lifting the bar from the starting position to your chest 10 times – or 10 repetitions.

Performing an exercise once, or lifting a weight once, has a limited impact on muscle growth. Therefore, it is recommend that you perform multiple reps (lifts) of each exercise to fatigue a muscle and stimulate maximum muscle growth.

What are Sets in a Workout?

A set is a group of reps performed without rest. If you perform 10 reps of barbell curls without resting, this is considered a set. Multiple sets of each exercise are often performed to appropriately fatigue a muscle and stimulate muscle growth.

It is often best to rest about 90 to 120 seconds between each set. For bigger, more taxing lifts such as bench press, deadlift and squat, you may need to rest 2 to 5 minutes between each set.

Sets and Reps Workout Example

Let’s say that a leg workout calls for the following:

  • Squats, 3 x 10
  • Leg Press, 3 x 10

The number the comes immediately after the exercise – in this case 3 – is the number of sets. The second number listed is the number or reps. So for both squats and leg presses, you will perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

Questions on Sets and Reps?

If you have questions, please visit the bodybuilding and powerlifting forum.

Mick Madden
Mick Madden is the primary content manager for Muscle and Brawn. Questions? Please visit the forum.
  • mak_capri Jun 19,2013 at 5:02 am

    “It is often best to rest about 90 to 120 seconds between each set.”
    I do not think so.. 45-60 seconds are enough.

  • […] Deadlifts, 4 sets – 6-12 reps Barbell rows, 3 sets – 10-12 reps T-bar rows, 3 sets – 10 – 12 reps One-arm dumbbell rows, […]

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