Earl Strong, Certified Personal Trainer
How often do I need to work out? How many repetitions should I perform? What amount of weight do I use? How long do I rest? These are but a few of the questions asked by new exercisers. Aside from asking, “What exercises should I do?” (which can be answered specifically by a trainer after gathering more information and a health history), these questions will be answered using a basic template for the exerciser.
The template for sets, repetitions, and rest time are specific to the goals of the individual. The following are guidelines and can be adjusted by a personal trainer based on the needs and abilities of the client.
A set can be described as a given amount of repetitions for the exercise based on goals. For most exercisers, multiple sets are recommended. Examples:
- Strength: 1 to 3 sets (more than 3 for advanced exercisers)
- Hypertrophy (larger muscles): 1 to 3 sets (more than 3 for advanced exercisers)
- Muscular Endurance/General Fitness: 1 to 3 (more than 3 for advanced exercisers)
Rest can be defined as the amount of time needed to recover (oxygen and glycogen need to be restored) between sets before performing the next set or exercise. Examples:
- Strength: 2 to 5 minutes
- Hypertrophy: 30 to 90 seconds
- Muscular Endurance/General Fitness: 30 seconds or less
Repetitions are the prescribed amount of times that the exercise must performed. Examples:
- Strength: 6 or less
- Hypertrophy: 8 to 12 (6 to 12 for advanced)
- Muscular Endurance/General Fitness: 10 to 15 (10 to 25 for advanced)
Once again, these are guidelines, or templates, to follow and can be adjusted to meet the conditioning of the participant.
How many days per week, or frequency, is another question often asked. Two days per week is the bare minimum to achieve better health, but true progress can be made with more days added. However, exceeding six days per week is typically not recommended and can be unsafe and/or ineffective. So, a “safe” range would be 2–4 days per week.
So, if you want to reach your goals, be safe and stick to the plan.