How Many Reps Should You Do When Lifting Weights

One of the first things people want to know when they begin lifting weights is how many reps they should be doing when lifting weights. In order to begin to answer that question it’s important to be clear of what your goals are and for what reasons you are embarking on a fitness journey that involves living weights.

For example, my weight lifting goals involve hypertrophy, or putting as much lean muscle mass onto my body as possible (without sacrificing body fat). I’ve found through years of experimenting that my body responds best to heavy weights where I am failing between reps 6 and 8. Some people like lifting up to 10 reps for hypertrophy goals, I’ve found that doesn’t work quite as well for me.

If you are an experienced lifter and are looking purely for strength related goals, I would lift even heavier than this- I’d lean more toward 3-5 reps.

HOWEVER, the most common reason people hire me as their Personal Trainer, begin lifting weights, or embark on any fitness journey is merely to tone (aka build a bit of lean muscle) their body and lose weight. Most people have no interest in continuously experimenting with their bodies, or studying fitness like me, and that’s fine. And for these people, depending on their ability/comfort level with weights and experience lifting, I usually shoot somewhere between 12-20 reps.

I’ve found that the sweet spot for the average person lies within this range of 12-20 reps. The weight is heavy enough to build solid, lean muscle yet if the lifter’s technique gets a little shakey toward the end and they make some minor errors the weight isn’t quite heavy enough to create an injury (in most cases, there is always a risk of injury when lifting weights of any size).

Also, and this is the most important part to understand, if you are lifting a weight and decide to stop at the 15th rep and at that 15th rep you are not truly in a state of muscular fatigue- you will be cutting yourself short of the gains you’re trying to make. I aim to reach near-failure on every single set I perform. Which means I stop my set at the rep before the rep I feel I’d fail on. By pushing your body to this extent, you are giving yourself the best chance at building lean muscle and burning fat as possible.

As always, Email Me if you have any questions!