Selecting the Right Repetition Count

a caveman is lifting weights repeatedly
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Knowing how many repetitions to do for each exercise is a tricky thing, but getting it right could be the key to achieving your exercise goals.

You may hear that the appropriate number of reps for a single set should be anywhere from six to as many as 24.

If you’re not able to do more than a couple reps, the weight you have chosen for the exercise is likely too heavy. If a weight still feels light as a feather after 20 reps, you’ve gone too light.

For your Stone Age workout to be effective, both rep and weight amounts need to be accurate. Here are some factors to consider in setting the right number for your particular needs.

Your Fitness Level

Newbies are not going to do the same number of repetitions as advanced fitness enthusiasts. Beginners should do a maximum of 8 to 12 reps per exercise and use a moderate weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends heavy loading and fewer reps for advanced lifters. Heavy loading lifts should not be done more than six reps.

Your Training Goals

Are you lifting for strength or endurance? Your rep counts are influenced by this factor. If you want to improve your endurance, perform sets with a minimum of 15 reps. When you’re lifting for increased strength, the weight amount is more important than the rep count. Results can be seen with rep counts anywhere from one to six.

Fatigue and Rep Counts

Your body will let you know when you’ve reached the maximum number of reps for a particular exercise. When muscle fatigue sets in and you find it difficult to complete any more repetitions, you have reached a point called muscular failure. Your muscles are not likely to cooperate and you won’t have the ability to finish the next rep. After a two- to three-minute rest period, perform another set with the same amount of reps.

Keep track of your progress in a fitness journal. When you perform a given exercise again, you’ll be able to note the weight and rep count you used at your last workout session. You can then track your progress as you increase either weight or rep count.

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