Lifting weights haphazardly in the gym won’t lead to results—whether you’re looking to tone or build muscle mass. Going into the gym with a plan of what you want to do, including how many sets you’ll perform for each exercise, you’re more likely to see the end results you’re looking for. But, what are sets, and how do you build them into a workout plan? Find out now.
What Are Sets?
The term sets can be confused with reps (the two terms are used together), which is a count of how many times you’ll do a specific exercise before resting.
For example, you’ll do 10 to 12 reps, rest, and then do 10 to 12 more.
Anytime you perform more than one round of reps (as in the case above), with a small amount of rest in between, it’s a set. In this case, you would have done 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps. This is often written as 10-12 x 2.
How to Choose Your Sets
The amount of sets you do depends on how heavy you’re lifting. However, it’s important to remember your form. You never want to do so many sets that your form fails, which can happen when your body begins to fatigue toward the end of the exercise. Here are some general tips for choosing how many sets to do:
- Plan to do 3 to 6 reps, 6 being the max amount. Anything more than that can compromise your form—this can lead to injury.
- The more reps you do, the fewer sets you do. If you’re lifting light, you’ll do more reps and fewer sets. If you’re lifting heavy, you’ll do less reps and one or two more sets.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind when choose your set amounts:
– Always choose proper form over meeting a certain amount of sets. As said before, when you fall out of form from fatigue you risk injuring yourself. If necessary, plan a general outline of what you want to do and then allow yourself to make changes as you learn what and how much you can lift.
– Choose sets based on reps and reps based on weight. For example, when lifting heavy, you should do fewer reps (or until you fatigue), usually anywhere from 6 to 10, with 2 or 3 sets. The only time you’d do more sets is if you’re lifting extremely heavy and only performing 1 to 5 reps for each round, in which case you could do 4 or 5 sets total.