The number of sets and reps that you do for each exercise is highly dependent on what you are wanting to achieve out of your training program.

Someone who plays a high intensity, power based team sport such as netball or basketball would ideally want to increase their strength and then progress to improve their power and speed. However, perhaps you enjoy hiking or running marathons where endurance based program is more suited to allow you to continue at a constant speed for longer.

Here is a description of each fitness goal to allow you to select the correct sets and reps for your gym program:

• Endurance- Ability to maintain a certain activity at a constant speed for longer
• Hypertrophy – Increasing the size of a muscle
• Strength – Ability to move a certain amount of weight
• Power – Ability to more a certain amount of weight quickly

The following table demonstrates the required number of sets and reps needed to focus on each specific goal:

Fitness goal Sets Repetitions Rest between sets
Endurance 3 15-20 30 sec
Hypertrophy 3-4 8-12 1 min
Strength 4-5 6-8 2 min
Power/Speed 5-6 6-8 2-4 minutes

Make sure you read our previous article ‘What weight should I choose’ https://mdhealth.com.au/weight-using/ and you will be able to apply this general rule of weight selection:

“If the last 2 reps of each set are hard to complete without losing technique you have the correct weight however, if it was too easy to complete or you could not complete all of the repetitions your weight is too light or too heavy!”

Written by Beth Chiuchiarelli
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health

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