How many repetitions and sets you do when working out, is of crucial importance. It is a topic that is a common theme in the fitness community, and you have probably heard it in conversations at the gym. You should have a strong opinion on this matter, as it is the backbone of your individual workout plan.
The preconditions at the starting point, needs, expectation and goals, is the base for the strategy that is chosen. It may sound simple, but it requires much knowledge and experience to combine all the possible variants of repetitions and sets in the optimal way.
An example is if you are an ice hockey player. Then a full body program should consist of a few to medium numbers of repetitions and even fewer sets for the large muscles and groups. We are introducing you to the basics, to make you understand why. It makes it easier for you to internalize the rationale of the individual plan your PT sketches up for you and comply to it.
Knowledge goes hand in hand with motivation and success, on your conquest to win the victories you aim for. This is true for all sports, and strength is required to be the best you can be.
If you play football you may go for a different approach. Tom Brady, as a quarterback, needs to work out for speed and core stability. His program is the opposite of heavy weights with few repetitions, and it obviously works. He is regarded as the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and even in his 40´s he is still a top athlete.
It is necessary to be familiar with the strength continuum, which is a framework to classify the four different muscle contractions and is illustrated by a F-curve, called the Force-Power curve. A workout can move in both
directions, but it is required a basic level of absolute strength to get maximal effect of the different muscle contractions. The principles are that with more force there is less speed, and with more speed there is less force.
Personal trainer at Squatbar, Natalia Gasz, explains that these principles should be the foundation for all systematic planning of exercise plans. “The type of exercise, the number of repetitions, the weight and time between sets lead on developing force, endurance or velocity. The curve shows that increase in force is causing a decrease in velocity and vice versa”
It is also important if you are new to workouts or if you are an experienced athlete. Based on your necessities and goals, the force-velocity curve guides us in the selection of specific exercises.
- ABSOLUTE STRENGTH
- Barbell back squat, deadlift, bench press, pull ups
- STRENGTH SPEED
- Clean, cleand and jerk, snatch
- SPEED STRENGTH
- Hang power snatch, hang power clean, loaded jumps, rubber bands
- ABSOLUTE SPEEED
- Jumps and sprint
It is logical to draw the conclusion that you manage, and should do, fewer repetitions on exercises with absolute power. The opposite is true for absolute speed. The exact amount of repetitions and sets, depends on the goal you are training for. Top athletes have specific goals according to the sport they compete in. That is why a top level quarterback might use rubber bands and resistance to be the best.
How many reps and sets thus depends on where you are located on the strength continuum curve, the exercises required for that muscle contraction and your goals.
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