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SLYSAM SparkPoints: (43,184)
Fitness Minutes: (110,991)
Posts: 1,474
10/6/11 1:12 P

I always heard there is a big difference between 1 and 2 sets, but not much difference between 2 and 3 or more sets. Most of the benefit comes from the first set but you get some additional benefit from the second set and a little less from the third and barely any from any extra sets. I personally tend to do 2 sets and if I feel super strong a third, but usually two to save time. Sometimes I do one if I am feeling weaker that day or in a big hurry.

But as another poster stated different trainers/sources will often have different opinions on ideal set and rep range. The classic advice that keeps reoccurring seems to be 1-3 sets and a rep range between 5-15 reps (less reps mainly for strength/power and the higher in this range for some strength/mostly endurance). It is common to cycle between different reps until you reach the higher number of your program than in the next workout to drop down to your lower reps and increase the weight. While learning a new exercise, I personally like to start a little lighter than I need to with more reps so I can practice the form and technique and make sure I am doing it safely. But I quickly increase weight/drop reps in future workouts.

BAZOOKABOBCAT SparkPoints: (93,990)
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10/6/11 11:44 A

Typically when I lift, I start a program doing 3 sets of 10-15 reps with a lighter weight. As I get stronger, I change that to 4 sets of 8 reps with about a minute of rest between sets.

SUSAN_FOSTER Posts: 1,229
10/6/11 11:24 A

My personal experience is that when I work with my trainer she has me two to three sets, but not in a row. So she has me do a cycle of different exercises, usually 4 to 6 different exercises, then repeat the cycle 2 to 3 times. Most of the time these are new exercises or exercises I've done before, but with more difficulty or with higher weights. What I've found is that by repeating the sets I can focus more on feeling the muscles and making sure that I am in good form.

ARCHIMEDESII SparkPoints: (190,535)
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Posts: 26,506
10/6/11 10:59 A

There are differences of opinion. Talk to 15 different personal trainers and you'll get 15 different answers. In general, Spark recommends that you do two sets of roughly 8-12 reps. However, I have read other "experts" who said you should only do one set of 12-15 using a heavy weight that fatigues you in the one set.

Who's right ? They all are. Do what's best for you. What works is what you'll keep doing. Consistency is what really matters long term. There really is no right answer. I could go out on the web and find studies that would justify all the different theories. thus the need to do what's best for you. We're all different and as a result, have different needs and goals.

SP_COACH_NANCY SparkPoints: (0)
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10/6/11 10:58 A


Exercise, as well as exercise physiology is not an exact science therefore you will find conflicting information everywhere. The goal for any type of exercise is to overload the muscle to the point of fatigue and then allow for rest and recovery in order for the body to begin the adaptation process.

So to make a long story short, when you experience muscle fatigue you will be making progress. The idea is to lift 80% of your one rep max. For example, if you can lift 20 pounds once with good form (good form is essential for any strength training exercise), then you should begin at 16 pounds. If you can do more than 15 reps you will want to add some weight. If you cannot even do 4-6 reps with proper form you will want to decrease your weight.

I hope this helps!
Coach Nancy

STRING_SLINGER SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (2,512)
Posts: 11
10/6/11 10:46 A

I have read in a few different places relatively vague and differing opinions on how many sets of weight lifting exercises to do. The Mayo Clinic web-site tells me to do 1 set of 12-15 reps per lift as heavy as I can possibly do for those 15 reps, if I can go past 15 I need to add weight. Sparkpeople tells me no big difference between 1 set and 2 sets, but there is a big difference between 1 set and 3 sets. So what really is the answer?

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