When you begin a workout program, or just attempt a new workout, you are faced with choosing weights and choosing how many reps to do, with how many sets. This can be confusing to people as to what to choose. I want to break it down for you and go over what it means with higher reps, or lower reps.
It really isn’t as complicated as some think, so don’t get discouraged!
Reps are the repetitions, or how many of each exercise you perform without moving on. For example, how many bicep curls would you do before moving on to tricep extensions. When you are thinking about the reps, think of your goal. If you use a lighter weight, you will want a higher amount of repetitions as it will tone you up, and lead to an increase in muscular endurance. Muscular Endurance is the capacity to complete repeated muscle actions for an extended period of time. Choosing a light weight with higher reps (12-20 reps) will allow you to keep doing more of them, and build up the endurance.
If you choose a heavier weight, you will be performing lower reps. When you use a heavier weight, you are working on muscular strength. Muscular strength is the max force your muscle can generate at one time. The heavier weight won’t allow you to keep going. You will choose a smaller amount of reps (6-8 reps) and work on gaining that strength so you can lift more weight at one time.
In both of these cases, you want your muscles to work toward a strong level of fatigue. Do not continue doing them if you cannot perform them with correct form.
If you have been lifting weights, but are still newer, begin with 2 sets of exercises. You may complete the entire workout and then repeat again to make 2 sets, or finish one exercise, take a break, and then complete your second set. You should feel your muscles working and like they are fatigued after two sets. If you are using heavier weights, two sets may also be enough for you.
If you have been lifting, and are looking to improve, you should perform three sets of each exercise. Women should stick to two or three sets, but can perform perform four sets if desired. I typically only use four sets if I am sticking to just a few exercises. If I have an entire circuit, I am fatigued after three sets, and can not possibly do a fourth. Some workouts I have 3 or 4 exercises, so I repeat them for a total of four times. This way, I know my body is fatigued but I worked my muscles enough.
There you have it! Not so hard to understand now, is it?
**Keep in mind if you are newer to lifting weights and fitness in general, these aren’t the guidelines to necessarily follow. Please check with your doctor prior to beginning a new exercise program.
This weeks workout incorporates what you just learned! This workout only has 7 exercises, and I want you to perform 4 sets. However, the amount of reps you do is totally up to you! Use what you just learned, and see what your goal is. Decide whether you want low reps or higher reps. Choose your weight depending on this.
As always, let me know if you give this a try! I love switching up my workouts to perform less sets and more reps, or less reps, more sets, etc!