Sets and Reps – A More Detailed Look…

sets and repsHey Everyone!

As I was reviewing the last article, I realized that there was a lot more that we needed to talk about.

It isn’t as simple as the number of sets for each exercise and the number of repetitions of each exercise.

There are many other factors to consider if gains are to be made. And that is the goal: gains!

Let’s get started!

The Age Old Questionfit couple

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the proper methods of resistance training based on age.

It has to be said, that the older we get, the more we have to be mindful of what we are doing. Those guys and gals who are in their teens, and 20s and 30s can go to the gym and throw some weights around, in any given order, it seems, and make gains. Now I’m not saying that they should just be careless. Of course not. It is equally important for young people to have a goal in mind and then institute a plan to meet that goal. It’s just that they can probably lift a lot more weight, and if done correctly, they won’t have to worry as much about injury.fit older couple

As we get older, however, we must be more diligent in our planning and choice of exercises so that we can work out safely for many years to come. We will be more prone to injury as we get older, so weight choice and exercise choice are critical.

I am 55 years old and really didn’t start resistance training until I was 52 or so. I did a lot of reading and research so I could find a plan that fit my goals. I did come up with a goal and a plan based on all my reading, which is what I try to share here with you. I pulled from many websites and plans, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this article Where I reviewed the Fit Father Project, a place where a lot of my information and exercises originated.

All this to say, whatever your age is, weight lifting has its benefits. If you are young and strong, find a program that will allow you to build muscle fast, and lift heavy weights! Go for it!

If you are middle-aged, and a little less in shape, then weight lifting is for you! Find a plan that works for you and get started. Don’t forget to include an eating regime that will allow for fat loss (if that’s what’s needed) and plenty of protein for muscle growth. Read, study, review, plan, and get started!

There is no better day than to day to get started. Imagine where you would be today if you started last year!

Sustainability Is The Key

You will find as you start to research and put together a plan to meet your goals, that there is a lot of information out there on the internet about weight lifting. There will be a lot of talk about split programs. Push routines, pull routines, 4 Day splits, 5 Day splits, 6 Day splits, full body workouts, etc, etc. The possibilities are endless.

The thing that you need to keep in mind when it comes to exercise (and eating) is to find a program that you can sustain. We all want to make great gains, and we want them today.

sit up meme
Unfortunately, we will need to stay at it for longer than one day, or one week, or one month, or one year. This is a commitment, so we need to find a routine that we can follow that will become a habit. Yes, exercising needs to be a habit. My wife and I have been exercising together for two and a half years, four or five times a week. We really enjoy this time together, and look forward to working out. We have a small home gym, and it is the first thing we do in the morning.

Sustainability is the key. Make weight lifting more than a hobby; make it a habit. It is a habit that will give you joy and health and a greater quality of life that you ever imagined!


I mentioned before that there will be a lot of confusing information about splits that you will find as you begin your weight lifting journey. I will try to make the information clearer for you in this section.

THe split that you choose will be in direct relationship to the plan you have out in place based on what your lifestyle will allow for sustainability. Let me explain.

busy peopleWe are all busy. If we are going to make exercise, and in particular, weight lifting, a habit, we will need to find the time to do it. As I mentioned, my wife and I work out first thing in the morning. We set the alarm for 5:50am, up and ready to go by 6am. This gives us about 40 minute to work out during the week. On weekends, we get up a little later, eat something first, and then do our workouts.

So, during the week, we try to do body parts that don’t require the greatest effort, and leave the two major muscle groups (chest, legs) for the weekend, when we have more time. This is what works for us: Me: Back, biceps, shoulders, abs, light chest, legs, and heavy chest. My wife: Back and biceps, rowing, shoulders and abs, rowing, legs, heavy chest.

We take days off when we are extra tired due to life, and we pick up where we left off. We keep track of every exercise, every weight, and a total weight lifted per day. You can only make progress if you keep track of what you are doing.

As I mentioned, there are many ways you can split the workouts. Here are a few that I found.

splits4 day workoutupper lower 4 day3 day workout

5 day workoutAnd I could go on and on. The important thing to remember is that you need to find a routine that fits the time frame that you have and is a routine that you can continue to do until it becomes a habit. Of course, you will change exercises up along the way to keep it fresh and to keep your muscle growing, but the time frame and the performing of the exercises needs to be sustainable in your lifestyle.
Try a few. Find one that works. Try a few different times of the day. Find a routine that works. Trust me, you will be thankful that you did.

rep variation
There is a great article that was written that shows that muscles will continue to grow using a variety of rep ranges, as long as you are training close to failure.

That is important to know, because that is the other area where you are going to find a lot of information as you research and read. And it may all seem confusing.

Keep in mind that you want to lift a weight that gets you close to failure in each set.

If you choose a heavy weight and do fewer reps (4 – 6), you will be training for strength.

If you choose a moderate weight and do more reps (12 -15), you will be training for hypertrophy (size).

If you choose a lighter weight and do lots of reps (15 – 20), you will be training for endurance.

There is no one right choice. If you want to have a well-rounded, muscular body, then you need to do all the above. Change it up from day to day or from week to week. I like to do one week of heavier weights and fewer reps and the next week with moderate weights and more reps. This way I can gain strength as well as grow bigger muscles.

I have seen good results by doing this.

Last Words

So there you have it.

There is a lot of information on sets and reps. There are as many split routines to choose from as there are exercises to perform!21/90 rule

Remember the key is sustainability. Weight lifting needs to become an integral part of your lifestyle. Find a routine that works for you. Put a 21-day plan in place. After 21 days, review and refine it and put the next 21-day plan in place. Keep this going until you get to 90 days. Then you will have built a lifestyle of fitness!

If you need some help, drop me a line, and I’ll give you my humble advice.

Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

See you in the next post.

Have a great day!


Tom Fitzsimmons

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