In this article, you will learn exactly how many sets you should do in your workouts to build muscle, according to science.
Some claim that you should do as many sets of each exercise as possible until you recover from signs of overtraining like fatigue, joint pain, and lack of progress, and then require your training to stay below that roof.
Others believe that the key to growing up and getting stronger safely and healthily is to take a minimal approach and do as few sets as possible (sometimes even just once a week).
The correct answer? somewhere in the middle.
You want to do enough sets to make progress, but not as many as possible and certainly not so much that you start to dread the gym or not constantly add weight.
What is this magic number of combinations then?
Read on to find out.
What are “groups” and “iterations?”
A repetition (or “rep”) is the lifting and lowering of the weight during a Full range of motion.
For example, if you are doing a barbell squat and sitting in the lower position of the squat and then standing, you have done one act.
A set is the number of repetitions of an exercise that is performed consecutively without rest. For example, if the exercise calls for 3 sets of 10 repetitions of the bench press, loosen the bar, perform 10 repetitions (1 set), return the bar rack, rest a few minutes, and then continue like this until you finish all 3 sets.
There are also some “advanced” training methods that do not fit into this template, such as Training pause rest And the cluster groups, but it still involves doing several reps (a set), resting, and repetitions.
How many sets should you do To gain muscle and strength?
The number of sets you should do in your workouts depends on your goals, but since you’re reading this, it’s fair to assume that you probably want to. Gain muscle and strength.
And if that’s your goal, first take a step back and ask yourself, “Why do I lift weights in the first place?” In other words, how about lifting weights that make your muscles grow?
in one word, tension.
Exposing your muscles to greater and greater levels of mechanical tension over time is the single biggest driver of muscle gain. Do that, and your muscles will have no choice but to grow bigger and stronger.
This is referred to as Gradual increase in tensionThe best way to achieve this is to lift heavier weights over time for a specific exercise within a certain rep range. For example, if your best bench press was 185 for 5 reps last summer, and you are now bench press 235 for 5 reps, your chest, arms, and shoulders have grown.
Now, while lifting weights is essential to building muscle, it isn’t Adequate all by herself. This means that you won’t make much progress if you just push, pull and squat as much as you can for one repetition a few times a week.
A good example of this comes from a a study Conducted by scientists at the University of Mississippi, they found that young, untrained men who performed 5 sets of one rep with as much weight as possible twice a week gained almost no muscle after 8 weeks.
The reason for this is that you also need to adequately expose your muscles Four size V of tension to stimulate muscle growth. You need to strike the right balance between intensity (the degree of tension in each group) and volume (the number of sets per muscle group each week).
And assuming you’re constantly adding weight to your workouts, the more sets you do, the more muscle and strength you’ll gain — up to a point.
A good example of this comes from a a study Conducted by scientists at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, they found that weightlifters who performed 5 sets of each exercise in each exercise gained more muscle and strength than people who performed 3 sets or one set of each exercise.
a dimensional analysis Posted in Sports Science Journal He also found a linear relationship between the number of sets people did per week for each muscle group and the amount of muscle they gained. The more combos they made, the bigger they got.
So, meth was right?
“Blowing” and “blasting” your muscles in as many sets as possible is the best way to bulk up and strengthen?
You can reach a point of diminishing returns in the past where doing additional sets doesn’t add extra muscle or strength, or even cause you to drop. Instead of muscle growth, each extra set eats away at your healing abilities and interfere With your ability to get bigger and stronger (largely by making you too tired to add weight to your workouts).
For example, a a study Conducted by scientists at the University of Sydney, one group of weightlifters performed 10 sets of 10 reps of each exercise in their training (known as German volume training), and another set perform 5 sets of 10 reps.
Although the group did twice as many sets, the group that did 10 sets gained the same amount of muscle as the group that did 5 sets. Furthermore, weightlifters who performed 5 sets of each exercise gained more strength.
More evidence for this comes from a a study Conducted by scientists at California State University, they found that people who do 18 sets of biceps per week gain more muscle and strength than people who do 9 or 27 sets per week.
And finally, a a study Conducted by scientists at the Spanish Olympic Committee found similar results – a moderate training volume produced greater strength gains than very low or very high training volumes.
So, what is the golden meaning when it comes to the number of sets you should do to build muscle and gain strength?
Search He explains that a good rule of thumb is to do 10 to 20 sets of each muscle group per week, and it’s best to break those sets into at least 2 or 3 reps per week. Older review a study He also found that muscle growth tends to peak when people do 40 to 70 repetitions of each exercise (which works out to roughly the same number of sets identified in the first study).
For example, you could do 3 sets of the bench press, 3 sets of the bench press on Monday, 3 sets of push-ups, and 3 sets of the chest press on Thursday, giving you 12 sets for your chest that week.
It’s worth noting that this 10 to 20 goal is a guide rather than a scripture, and how many combos you have to do to make progress too Depends on About how long you’ve been lifting weights.
People with no weightlifting experience can make progress in lower sets, people who follow a proper strength training program for two years or less are likely to do just fine with the lower end of this range (10 to 15 sets), People who have trained for two years or more are likely to make better progress using the upper end of this range (15 to 20 sets).
The reason for this is that as you approach the genetic ceiling for muscle growth, your muscles has become More “resistant” to the muscle-building effects of strength training, and you may have to do more volume (sets) to keep making progress.
How many sets should you do to lose fat?
Many people aiming to lose weight decide to increase the number of sets they do in weight-bearing exercises. With their spotlight on, the calculus is simple: do more sets, burn more calories, and lose weight faster.
While this is somewhat true – assuming you keep eating the same amount, doing more sets will burn more calories and thus help you lose weight faster – there are three reasons why it’s not wise to try to lose weight by doing more sets:
- Weight lifting don’t burn That’s a lot of calories. In most cases, weight training lasts about 45 to 60 minutes you will burn About 300 to 400 calories. Thus, if you add a few sets to your weightlifting exercises, you can only burn 50 to 100 extra calories (that’s assuming these are heavy sets of compound exercises like the deadlift—the numbers will be much smaller for isolation exercises like curls).
- Increasing the number of sets you do in strength training exercises is a recipe for fatigue, stagnation, and injury. Instead, you should gradually increase the number of sets you do per week, adding a handful of sets to some of the exercises and sticking to that for several months before adding more.
- As we explained earlier in this article, doing too many sets interferes with your ability to gain muscle and strength, and this effect is magnified when you’re in a calorie deficit. By doing too many sets, you may interfere with your ability to gain muscle and strength.
In the final analysis, you should not look at weightlifting as a way to lose weight. Instead, see it as a way to improve your body composition by gaining or maintaining muscle while losing fat. The best way to maintain a calorie deficit is to learn How to follow a correct diet And we do a moderate amount of the heart To burn some extra calories.
Since the goal of lifting weights while cutting is the same as when maintaining or amplifying the weight, you should do the same number of sets – 10 to 20 per muscle group per week to start, then adjust based on how your body responds. Most people find that they need to restore their training volume a bit as they go deeper into the wound, but if you feel fine, there is no need.
+ Scientific references
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- Wernbom, M., Augustsson, J., & Thomeé, R. (2007). Effect of frequency, intensity, volume, and method of strength training on muscle cross-sectional area in humans. In Sports Medicine (Volume 37, No. 3, pp. 225 – 264). Med Sports. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737030-00004
- E. R. Helms, P. J. Fitschen, A. A. Aragon, J Cronin, and B. J. Schoenfeld. (2009). Recommendations for preparing for a natural bodybuilding contest: resistance and cardiovascular training. In Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (Volume 41, No. 3, pp. 687-708). https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181915670
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- Amirthalingam, T., Mavros, Y., Wilson, G.C., Clarke, JL, Mitchell, L., & Hackett, D.A. (2017). Effects of a modified German training program on muscle hypertrophy and strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31 (11), 3109-3119. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001747
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- Schoenefeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and muscle mass gain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sports Science, 35 (11), 1073-1082. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1210197
- Radaelli, R., Fleck, S. J., Leite, T., Leite, R. D., Pinto, R. S., Fernandes, L., & Simão, R. (2015). Dosage – response of 1, 3 and 5 sets of resistance exercises on strength, local muscular endurance and hypertrophy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(5), 1349-1358. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000000758
- Mattocks, K.T., Buckner, S.L., Jessee, MB, Dankel, S.J., Mouser, J.G., & Loenneke, JP (2017). Test practice produces strength equivalent to high-volume training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 49(9), 1945–1954. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001300
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