How Many Reps Do I Do?
If you’ve been working out with weights for a while, you’ve probably seen or heard a lot about rep-ranges. Do such and such if you want to tone and firm, do this many if you want to get strong, etc.
I thought I’d do a short post on rep-ranges and what goals they’re used for…
Or did I? Ok you caught me. What I really want to do is clear up a misconception or two about this.
Here’s how I explain the concept of rep ranges:
“Rep range doesn’t mean if you do this many reps, this is what happens, regardless of the weight you use. What we’re really talking about is how much weight you’re using.” – Me
For for example – if you’re told to do 4-6 reps per set for strength, that doesn’t mean doing any old 6 reps will make you stronger. What it really means is use the amount of weight that you will only be able to do up to 6 times. If you can do more, you should increase the weight. If you can only do a couple, you should decrease the weight.
The same is true for other goals. 15 reps of a weight so light that you could have done 40 more isn’t getting you the goal that the 15-rep range is looking for.
So, I suggest thinking first about the amount of weight you’re doing. Think of the rep-range as the most you can do in one set for that amount of weight.
Oh – and there’s a couple of other factors to, including the tempo you you lift at (but that’s a separate subject).
So, let’s look at a common breakdown of reps and what they are good for, using a table very similar to what’s presented in the pages of the American Council on Exericse (ACE) personal trainer manual.
|8-15||1-2||30-90 seconds||Variable||General fitness|
|12 +||2-3||Up to 30 seconds||60-70% 1-RM||Muscular endurance|
|6-12||3-6||30-90 seconds||70-80% 1-RM||Muscle size|
|Up to 6||2-6||2-5 minutes||80-90% 1-RM||Strength|
Notice the other variables – rest period and intensity. AKA weight. 1-RM means “one rep max” – if you happen to know how much weight you can only do once, you can use that to determine your weight. If not, you can simply test yourself by using your past experience and a little experimenting. Find the weight you can only do around the number of times you’re looking for.
That’s it. The main point is, if you can lift 10 pounds 20 times in a row without a break, then it doesn’t count as strength work to do that weight 5 times! 😊
Of course, moving is better than not moving no matter what, so if you’re stuck with 5-pound dumbbells, go ahead and work it! But if you have the option to increase in accordance with your goals, don’t sell yourself short!