How Many Reps & Sets for a Beginner?


How many repetitions or reps and sets should I do is one of the most common questions beginners have. And as always, the common answers are usually confusing. By the end of this article, you will learn the optimum number of sets and reps you should be doing as a beginner.

How many reps for a Beginner?

General rep recommendation? Beginners are always advised to start with 8 -12 repetitions or reps. Mainly because the weight is light and this reps range is best for muscle growth.

recommendations for reps for beginners

Why are 8-12 reps NOT ideal for beginners? Learning proper technique becomes critical for a beginner.  Beginners should be more concerned about perfecting their form than worrying about muscle growth and strength.

  • Too much burn:  The 8-12 repetition range increases the lactic acid accumulation and brings the “burn”. The more the burn, the harder it is to focus on proper form, especially for beginners.
  • Long set: An 8-12 repetition is a long set. The longer the set, the easier it is to loose your focus (and your form) The only benefit of using an 8-12 reps range is that it gives your lots of practice (of course with bad form).

Ideal rep range for beginners? So the best range for beginners would be 6 – 8 reps.

This will minimize the burn, keep the set short and will also give you enough practice with the movement.

What the heck is a rep range? A rep range (like, 6-8 reps) will give you an objective measure of when to go up the weights compared to single reps number (like, 6 reps/repetition).

For instance, you start with 45 lb for 2 sets of 6 reps. Now keep using the same weight for your workouts until you can do 2 sets of 8 reps. Now you know that your strength has gone up and you should use a heavier weight.

How many sets for a beginner?

Compared to reps, the question of number of sets seems to be more complicated. Some say one set is best while others say more sets are better.

Luckily, for beginners, both research and anecdotal evidence have shown 1-2 sets are all that is required.

Things to remember about sets & reps

  • Don’t go to failure on these sets. This will ruin your form and defeat the whole purpose. You do not have to go to failure on your sets for your muscles to grow.
  • Though they say certain repetition/rep ranges are better for muscle and for strength, there is very little evidence to support this. You can do 6-8 reps and still grow some big muscles.





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