So you are wondering what the best reps and sets are to start working towards your physique, strength, and performance goals. It can get pretty confusing thinking about how many different styles of training are out there and deciding on what the best way to reach your specific goal can get lost in the sea of information. Look. The basics are basics for a reason and I am a firm believer in keeping it simple is always the most important to your ability to remain consistent and find long term success.
Building lean muscle mass or even compact muscle is an important part of any weight loss or mass building journey. Hypertrophy is a great way to really achieve a defined sculpted aesthetic. In a hypertrophy phase you are primarily working between 3 to 4 sets of a rep range between 6 to 12. There are so many different styles of hypertrophy from incorporating drop sets, pyramid style sets, but the real key to achieving the muscle growth you are looking for is always prioritizing time under tension. Adding in supersets can help in decreasing your rest times and keeping your heart rate elevated to burn even more calories while simultaneously optimizing your time. For rest times I would recommend focusing on 30 to 90 second rest periods between each set.
If your goal is to increase your muscular endurance, higher volume with lighter weight is definitely the way to go. I would recommend increasing your rep range from 12 to 20 reps in 2 to 3 sets of each exercise. With a 30 second recovery period between sets.
If your goal is to increase your strength and power then I would recommend focusing on a rep range of 2 to 6 with sets ranging between 3 to 5. This is a great time to really prioritize those compound lifts such as bench press, squat variations, deadlift variations, power cleans, and more. Although these are great in hypertrophy phases I believe that these lifts really take the cake for increasing strength and power in these phases. For recovery I would recommend aiming for 2 to 5 minutes as your weight load is going to be a lot greater in those smaller repped phases. This is really where the bread and butter lies in building muscle.
When it comes to choosing our weight load in each category we are always going to aim for prevention of injury above all. A great rule of thumb is choosing a weight that you are comfortable with that allows you to approach failure by the last 2-3 reps of each exercise without compromising your form. It is important to always practice dynamic stretching before the start of your workout and prioritizing static stretching post workout for prevention of injury. I would recommend beginning each exercise with a lighter weight, think of your first set as a warm up set, where the remaining sets are working sets. This is a great way to assess your body’s weight load and strength without compromising your form or exhausting your muscles too early on in your workout. Slow and steady wins the race.
If you truly want to increase your strength, power, size, endurance, and muscular aesthetic I would recommend following a three phase process, like the Sam Wallace Fit Method, that incorporates all three of the processes listed above if you’re looking for a well rounded aesthetic as well as increased athletic performance.