How many reps should you do?
How many reps should you do of a given exercise?
It doesn’t matter if they are all rubbish.
A blunt but brutally honest answer to a common question.
It’s pointless counting reps if you’re doing what the fitness industry dubs “junk reps”.
Junk reps are performing lots of poorly executed reps which are ineffective and potentially damaging to your body.
Don’t kid yourself on by getting bogged down with worrying about and counting junk reps – thinking you’ve been successful.
You might be wasting your time.
A better question to ask first then is:
“HOW should I be doing my reps?”
Only once you have learned how to control what you’re doing can you earn the right to start counting.
What are you counting?
Repetitions = Time Under Tension.
Tension is the only force your muscles recognise.
Time Under Tension (TUT) is simply the amount of time your muscles have to work for in a given period.
If each rep is performed at a certain, consistent tempo (eg. 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down) and you do 8 repetitions EXACTLY the same way, the total TUT is 48 seconds.
How much TUT?
The answer is it depends.
It depends on your current capabilities, the type of muscle fibers you’re challenging and your goals.
However, a key principle is to start with the least amount of unacustomed work to get the job done. This is known as the Minimal Effective Dose.
Providing the necessary stimulus for your body needs to create the positive adaptations you want.
For the best overall combination of strength, conditioning and body composition, 45secs-90secs or 6-12 reps gives you some goal posts to shoot for.
Remember though – it’s not only about how many reps you do – it’s as much about HOW you perform your reps.
Your mind should be focused on the muscles you’re trying to work and in controlling the movements that lead to challenging them as meaningfully as possible.
Keep this in mind the next time you’re in the gym.
It will not only keep you safe and injury free.
It will dramatically enhance your training experience and be miles more effective.