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How many reps should I do?

How many reps is right? When you start lifting weights, a common question is how many times do I need to lift it? Aside from the typical Personal Trainer answer of “just one more”, the real answer depends on your goal.

Before we get into that, it might be worth defining what a rep or repetition actually is. A repetition or ‘rep’ for short is one complete movement of that exercise. So, a rep of a press up is lowering your body to the floor and pushing back up. 

A ‘set’ is the number of reps you do before stopping and taking a rest. That would mean that 2 sets of 15 reps would be 15 reps, rest, 15 reps, stop. Adding up to 30 overall.

With that cleared up, we chat to our expert in all thing's fitness, Dean Zweck, to find out how many sets and reps you should do depending on your own personal goal.

Around 30 reps is a great place to start for most goals, building muscle (hypertrophy), gaining strength or increasing endurance. It’s how they are broken up into sets and reps that make the difference.



For building muscle, an ideal split of your 30 reps is 3 sets of 10. You could do 4 sets of 6-8 reps too to help get you started if you need to.

Take about 4 seconds for each rep and chose a weight heavy enough where you find the last two reps challenging to complete. Aim to rest about 6-90 seconds between reps.



To build strength, you want the weight to be heavier, to a point where you won’t be able to lift it 10 times. A great rep range is 4-6 reps for strength, so you need about 5-6 sets to reach the 30-rep target. For example, 6 sets of 5 reps, or 5 sets of 6 reps. 

A top tip, take enough rest between sets to allow your muscle to fully recover - about 2-4 minutes - and be sure to focus on your form – lifting heavy weights requires better technique than with lighter weights to ensure you don’t injure yourself.



To improve your endurance, you want to increase the number of reps so the muscle works over an extended period. For this you need at least 12 reps and more. A great rep range for endurance is 2 sets of 15 reps. 

Tips for this workout, only take 30-60 seconds rest so the muscle doesn’t fully recover. Choose a weight light enough to complete the reps but it should feael hard at the end of set 1 and during set 2.

Whilst there is no golden number of reps for any exercise, 30 reps is a great place to start for no matter what you’re working towards, just be sure to divide them up into the right number of sets for your own individual goal

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