How Many Sets and Reps to Build Muscle Fast?

How many sets and reps should I do?

Now that you started working out at home or at the gym you are probably asking yourself this question.

This is an important aspect of your workout because based on how many sets or reps you do you are going to see big results or no results at all.

If you are an experienced bodybuilder you probably know the answer, but if you are a beginner...let me shock you!

It's a common belief that the more sets and reps you do, the stronger and bigger you'll become. This is absolutely FALSE.

There is not a precise answer that tells you how many sets you should do per exercise or per workout.

Sets and Reps Guideline

Before we start, please take a look at this sets/reps chart and notice that low reps are to build strength and power while high reps are to build endurance.

Sets and Reps

How Many Sets

Many bodybuilders stress the fact that you should do 20-25 sets per workout, or several sets per exercise. You can find the same muscle building tips on magazines and they could sound pretty convincing to you.

Of course when I started I was one of those that believed that going to the gym every day and working out for hours was the best approach, but soon after that brought me almost to the point of quitting.

If you workout like crazy every day of the week and do long sessions you probably end up quitting for one of these reasons:

  • No results
  • Too tired
  • Too stressed
  • You hate going to the gym

The reason that leads to these consequences is called over training, simple as that. That happens when you stress your body too much without a proper recovery.

It affects your body (first three points) and your mind (hating the gym).

I found that I got the best results by doing 3 sets per exercise and a maximum of 12 sets per workout.

If you stick to this routine I bet you will be very satisfied of your muscle growth. Plus it forces you to do short sessions, which is one of the next muscle building tips that I will discuss.

How Many Reps

When it comes to how many reps per set you should do, here I am going to surprise you again.

First of all let me say that it depends on your goal. Commonly either building mass or toning/defining muscles.

  • To build mass I recommend 6-8 reps per set
  • To tone, 12 reps per set

Of course you use different weights. If you can perform 12 reps with 150lb on the bench press and you use the same 150lb to do 6-8 reps that's going to give you ZERO results.

Make sure you use weight that allow you to do at the MOST the number of reps that match your goal.

The key for building bigger muscles is to build strength. You build strength if you lift heavy weights. To lift heavy weight you have to limit the number of reps per set.

If you perform many reps (example 12) you build endurance, not strength.

I'd like to give you a final advice regarding sets and reps.

Do 6-8 reps when you workout your upper body, and 12-20 when you workout your legs.

We usually spend so much time walking or standing (unless you do nothing all day) that our quads, calves and hamstrings are already used to endurance. High reps result in big muscle gains when you train your legs!


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1 Response

  1. Nice article, thank you!