Weight Lifting Tips – How Many Sets?

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How much weight do you really have to pump?

Do you have to religiously put in your 3 sets of 15 reps to see results?

Is that 3rd set making a difference or just wasting your time?

I’ve wondered this for years and as a trainer, have always been taught that doing multiple sets is just what you do for maximum results. I usually take this to heart and build my plan around it. However, on those occasions where I’m in a hurry or want to mix up the training with even more exercises, I’ll cut the sets down to 2, figuring that we are making up the difference with the other exercises. The other day, I was feeling good and decided to do what I call a super circuit – alternating a weight exercise with jumprope but really pushing it on repetitions and the weight used. After 1 set, we were exhausted and felt like we had just done a KICKASS workout! It’s two days later and I can still feel how great that workout was and how my muscles don’t feel that they are missing anything from not doing more sets. So then I started thinking, am I wasting time by doing all of those sets all the time? Well, the answer is more complicated than I’d like and what it seems to me is that you do different training for different goals. Every one has a theory on this so really, take it with a grain of salt.

I’ve had so much success with 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps and I really think this is how you train your muscles in the beginning and achieve initial strength.

Doing the exercises faster or slower challenge different muscle fibers so this is another factor.

I sometimes get the best workout by going all out on just one set and combining it with cardio.

So where does this leave me? I’m going to continue to do it all. I kind of think of it as weight lifting cross training. There are benefits to multiple sets and single sets, low weights and high weights, low reps and high reps, fast and slow movements. If I spend a little bit of time every month (how I break down my workout plans) making sure I include all of these elements, then I’ll be even better, stronger and versatile.

Do you have other thoughts or want to argue with me? Please put them in the comments!


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