Strength Training Rep And Set Range

23 Aug 2009 17:50

Blog Home


At the entrance to my local gym there is a sign that tells you which trainer is currently working as well as who the desk staff person is. Occasionally it will also have a tip of the day sort of thing. Recently the tip of the day has been rep and set ranges for various goals. Until now I have managed to keep my outrage to myself…:)

The board lists 3 goals and 3 guidelines, in terms of reps and sets, and rest periods to perform.

Goal Rep Range Set Range Rest Period
Endurance 10+ 3-5 <60s
Hypertrophy 6-10 6-10 60-90s
Strength 3-6 3-5 2min+

Forget the first two, look at the strength recommendation! Whoever wrote this little guideline has never been exposed to ANYTHING resembling serious strength training. How do you prescribe a blanket guideline for sets? How do you post that information and expect anyone to be able to put it to proper use?

What about 1-3 reps? Are they simply not able to categorize this or have they simply neglected it? Seriously, where did they get this information from. In my opinion 1 rep is absolutely strength training. If I could pick one thing that sort of smacks me in the face as being strength training, it would be singles, maximal training.

Another thing that really gets me about this, and will get other people thrown under a bus, is the fact that it only says rep and set ranges. If my goal were strength I would assume that ALL of the things I do have to be 3-6 reps and 3-5 sets. But they utterly neglect anything to do with overall volume, density, fatigue, and they miss it with all of their 'guidelines'.

stopwatch.jpg

How about those rest periods? I can't even count how many times I've seen arguments over this exact thing. The endurance rec is fine with me, a lot of circuits and whatnot rely on timed intervals and 60s fits. The hypertrophy rec may be a bit low but that is neither here nor there. The strength recommendation however is out to lunch. The usual recommendation is anywhere from 3-7 minutes. Personally, I'm always on the high side when it comes to rest periods and don't mind taking even a 10 minute break between some really heavy deadlifts. The kicker with strength training, in terms of rest periods, is that you may feel ready for the next set but your nervous system is not. Its the neural recovery that takes lots of time. You can't feel it but you can see it at play if you use short rest periods. Again, this is something that is very important but has been neglected. Eric just recently blogged about this very topic and it can literally make or break your training. Anyone reading this post should absolutely read that post.

Its been my opinion for the last year or so that giving people little glimpses of the big picture can be very damaging. Perfect example here. You tell someone strength training is this and before you know it you have an injury or someone that is hammering their body into submission. This sort of thing should be realized by any trainer with half a brain. Unfortunately my gym only has 1 decent trainer and I think if you took all the brains of the other ones and turned it into one, you'd be short of getting half a brain. Enough people get thrown under the bus as is, we don't need trainers handing out this kind of vague bs.


This page created 23 Aug 2009 17:50
Last updated 20 Jul 2016 22:02

© 2016 by Eric Troy and Ground Up Strength. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.