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How Many Reps And Sets Should I Be Looking At Doing?

How Many Reps And Sets Should I Be Looking At Doing?


The first thing you need to decide is, What are your goals? There is a different range for different goals. Are you looking to tone and lean down? Looking to gain muscle and add size? Beginner looking to start your fitness journey? Lets start here:


Toning and leaning down workouts should look more like this

12-15 reps of 2-3 sets of 6 exercises for larger muscle groups and 3-4 exercises for smaller muscle groups. 

An example of a leg workout for toning and leaning 

  1. Squats- feet hip width apart with toes pointed slightly outward, head looking forward, lower your butt back and down keeping your knees behind your toes.
  2. Lunges- put one foot forward and one foot back keeping your body squared off not looking like you’re on a tight rope with one foot in from of the other. You will know if you are in the correct position once you lower your back knee towards the floor. If you’re losing your balance then separate your feet a bit more. Again, watch that your knee does not pass your toes. If your knee is passing your toe then slide your back foot farther back.
  3. Hip thrusts- laying on your back with both feet planted and knees bent, push your feet into the floor driving your hips towards the ceiling. If the resistance is too low then raise one foot up in the air while driving the other one into the floor. Stay on the same leg for all of your reps, 12-15 then switch.
  4. Leg curls- These can be performed sitting, standing or laying down. If you do not have a machine to use they can still be done. You can use a resistance band laying on your belly with the band around both ankles, fully extend legs, keep one foot on the floor while bringing the other foot towards your butt, hold and squeeze. Repeat the same leg for 12-15 reps then switch.
  5. Dead lifts- Keeping legs straight, hold a bar, dumbbells or kettle bell in front of you. Keep the weight as close to your body as possible while bending forward at the hips pressing your butt back and away while the weight tracks down the front of your legs. This is one of the only exercises that you will need to keep your legs completely straight in order to get the full range of motion from the exercise.
  6. Resistance bands clam shell-While laying on your side, have the resistance band around your thighs, bend your knees to a 90 degree angle. Keep your feet together the entire time while separating your knees as far as you can. Obviously only one knee can move since the other is pressed on the floor. You need to keep that leg pressed down while pulling with the opposite. Complete your 12-15 reps and then roll over to the other side.

An example of triceps workout for toning and leaning 

  1. Tricep press down- No machine?, No worries! Use a band, resistance band or even a pillow. It is all about the force you create. Keep your grip, hand position close together, press down and flex the triceps as hard as you can. Repeat 12-15 reps
  2. Overhead press- bands or resistance bands or soup cans if you’re stuck without a gym. Soup can-Raise one or both arms above your head keeping your elbows near your ears, slowly bend at the elbows bring your hands behind you, remember to keep the elbows by your ears at all times. For the bands, hold the band in both hands keeping one hand stable in front of you, bring your elbow up to your ear with your hand behind you then press your hand to the ceiling for 12-15 reps then switch.
  3. Close hand plank- Just like your plank or position for push up except you’ll want you hands together. Make a triangle out of your hands directly under your chest. Touch your two pointer fingers together and both of your thumbs to create the triangle. Hold this position as long as you can. Challenge yourself to hold longer each time you do this exercise!
  4. Kickbacks- Bent at the waist, you can support yourself on a bench or chair with the opposite hand if needed. With a band you’ll need to hold one end as the anchor, with a can there’s no need. You will keep your elbow at your side the entire time while pressing you had back behind you and point with your pointer finger to gain the full extension. 12-15 reps and switch sides.


Gain muscle and size

Low reps and high weights. To accomplish this task it is always best to have a spotter. You want to push to your maximum weight on your last set. Reps should not exceed 8 and can be as low as 1. You need to follow this with every exercise when trying to gain. Less is better except when it comes to the weight of course! 


Beginners always start off light in weight and do more reps to familiarize your muscles with the movement. Muscle memory is amazing. After you repeat the exercises correctly for even a short period of time, your muscles will remember the movement. In time you can move up in weight but continue to do the higher reps of 12-15. In time you can lower the reps and start to really build. The fundamentals and correct form will make the difference in your workouts and your body will thank you it!

Written by Christina Widmark