So this week I want to talk about a question I get asked a lot.

“How many reps or sets should I do of this exercise?”  I hate to give you this answer, but its true it all depends on your goal.

I want to give you the information so you can make decisions based on what’s right for YOU so stick with me on this one!

I hope this takes away a lot of the guess work for you and I hope that it takes away the analysis paralysis that comes up with TOO much research.

What do I mean? 

Often you find yourself thinking about things like should I do a 5 exercises and 5 reps, or 12 reps or maybe 12 reps. Or maybe I’ll do a one and done. you know the shit that goes through your head. Then its more research and then it comes down to screw it Ill do it tomorrow.

Changing Your Mindset

First of all lets go over the basics

  • What is a rep? a rep is a repetition, complete exercise for example one squat is one rep, one bicep curl is one rep.
  • What is a set? A set is a consecutive number of reps without stopping. Like 10 squats or 10 curls.

For example two sets of 10 reps of bicep curls would be 10 curls rest then another 10 curls.

So now you might be asking yourself how many should I do?

The better question here to ask yourself is What is my goal? I know I am such a smart ass.

If your goal is muscle endurance then think of rep ranges from 15-20.

  • For example in a boot camp class you set the timer for a minute and you do push ups non stop for a minute that is endurance. With these types of exercises your weight is lower and your rest periods are shorter. Endurance workouts are great for marathon runners cyclists or anyone who does an endurance sport

If your goal is size think rep ranges 6-12. for 3 to 5 sets with longer rest periods.

  • For example. I may do shoulder presses with 30 lb dumbbells and do 5 sets of 8 reps.
    I would also include up to a min rest. Think of a bikini competitor.

If your goal is strength and power reps range from 1-5 just one really heavy rep.

  • This places a lot of strain on your muscular system AND your nervous system so you need a lot longer to recover. You might be waiting 3 to 5 mins between sets. I see these huge power lifters at the gym and they are literally at the squat rack for an HOUR!
    This is that huge guy with the belt that wraps his knees up and does ONE heavy dead lift with a crowd circling him.

Now specifically when it comes to sets people ask me all the time how many should I do?
My basic rule of thumb is 3 -5. Listen if you want to fatigue the muscle of your glutes obviously 5 sets of hip thrusts are going to be more effective but there are also other variables you want to consider.

  1. How many sets can you do with good form?
  2. How many sets before you mentally check out because you’re bored?
  3. How many sets can you do in your allotted time for the workout?

So that is why there are so many variables to consider.

Use me as an example
I work usually 3 muscles on a training day
1. Glutes hamstrings and quads
2. chest shoulders triceps
3. core back and biceps

Each muscle group I usually do 4 sets of 10-12 reps.
So that would be say
4 different back exercises ..12 reps
4 different bicep exercise …12 reps
3 different ab exercises ….12 reps.

So there you have it a basic understanding of reps and sets. Most women I train are looking to look lean and get a full body workout. I love this kind of endurance training and actually do it 2-3 times a week.

If you would like to experience this type of workout you will find a ton of at home videos you can do on my Youtube channel or feel free to sign up for my boot camp class.

If you want to start working out at home be sure get get yourself some very simple at home equipment to get started:

  1. Bench
  2. Set of dumbbells
  3. Booty band: I love these booty bands because they come in five different strength levels and a cute little bag that you can travel with. I love them for legs and use them at the gym or even when I travel. They are great for stretching, physical therapy and of course working the bootie. If you want to get yours here is 2 options. Get one of them or be like me and get a set of three. 

Happy training ladies!


Keeping it real 
– Yvette Salva –


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