Resistance Training Primer: Aligning Sets, Reps, and Rest Intervals
Today we’re going to take a quick look at resistance training and the role sets, reps, and rest intervals play in determining the training effect. While each parameter can be varied to a large degree, there is a general relationship between the three that will influence your strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance gains. Let’s take a look.
Repetitions is perhaps the single, most influential training parameter. The number of repetitions not only determines the load used, but also dictates the other two training parameters and influences exercise selection to a large degree. There is an inverse relationship between the number of repetitions and the number of sets and amount of rest between sets. Generally, as the number of repetitions increases, rest intervals and number of sets decrease.
Aligning repetitions with training goal:
- Strength: 1-5
- Hypertrophy: 8-12
- Muscular Endurance: 12+
The number of sets is directly related to the repetitions performed. The more repetitions, the fewer the sets. The fewer the repetitions, the more sets.
Aligning sets with training goal:
- Strength: 4-6+
- Hypertrophy: 3-4
- Muscular Endurance: 1-3
Rest intervals have the most flexibility as a loading parameter and can be varied greatly to influence overall conditioning. That being said, the general rule is the lower the number of repetitions performed per set, the longer the rest interval should be. At first thought this may seem a little counter-intuitive. However, performing a low number of repetitions with a high load places great demand on the nervous system and longer rest intervals are needed in order to allow the nervous system to fully recover between sets.
Aligning rest intervals with training goal:
- Strength: 3-5 minutes
- Hypertrophy: 90 seconds to 3 minutes
- Muscular Endurance: <= 1 minute
So there we have it, a brief primer on sets, reps, and rest intervals as they pertain to resistance training. Adhering to these guidelines will align your goals with the proper training methods to reach those goals. However, while a general relationship between the three parameters exists, there’s nothing wrong with veering off the path to add a little variety and force a different training response.
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