The Elite Physique

The Right Number of Repetitions in the Gym

number of repetitions
Do You Know The Right Number of Repetitions To Use When Training?

Are you using the right number of repetitions in the gym when training? First lets look at how to perform repetitions correctly and then we will look at how to cycle them correctly.

The Anatomy of a Repetition

A full range repetition should be taken through the complete range of joint movement in a slow controlled manner.  If the weight is so heavy so you have to jerk it bounce or swing it to get it to the top of the movement, it is too heavy and your form will be compromised.

I advocate an eight-second repetition with a three second lifting (positive) movement and a five second lowering (negative) movement. I believe this to be a safe and productive exercise speed When performing each exercise through a full range of motion, accentuate the lifting part of the movement slowly and smoothly for each repetition to the count of three.

Don’t pause in the contracted position, but lower the resistance slowly and smoothly to the count of five. Maintain a normal breathing pattern throughout the whole movement.  Exhale on the lift and inhale on the release.  Avoid locking joints when lifting and always keep a slight bend in the arms and legs.

Fast and jerky movements should be avoided at all times as they place undue stress on the muscle and connective tissue, substantially increasing the likelihood of injury.

Examples of this are: arching the back and bouncing the bar off the chest in the Bench Press, bending forward under squats and using any sort of momentum for any other exercise. These will work counter to your goals so be aware and eliminate them from your program.

If you are not sure about the speed of the movement move slower, never faster, do not sacrifice form for the sake of more repetitions. The slower speed is safer also because you can stop at any point in the movement range. There are also advantages to training with slower movement speeds. These include:

1. A longer period of muscle tension

2. A higher level of muscle force

3.A lower risk of tissue trauma and injury

The development of lean muscle and strength go hand in hand.  Therefore, an exercise session will have to be designed so that when your strength improves, then you will also be increasing your useful lean muscle also.

click here bodybuilding boxTips Using Right Number of Repetitions

Changes in repetitions and weight throughout a bodybuilding training cycle is an effective way to maintain progress over time and avoid training plateaus ie when you fall into a slump in terms of your inability to gain strength and muscle.

Activation of muscle fiber types is dependent upon the levels of tension experienced in the muscle and feedback provided from the muscle sensory organs. So the number of repetitions per set have to be changed throughout a strength training cycle.

The higher the repetitions for a strength training exercise, the more the slow-twitch muscle fibers are affected. These are the muscle fibers that promote endurance.

Moving further down the scale, the lower repetition range will activate the fast-twitch muscle fibers (strength muscle fibers) and increase strength and grow lean muscle. For strength training the stimulus must be below 20 repetitions as to have an effect on the phosphate energy system and to activate the fast twitch fibres.

woman ding strength training exercise

The resistance must also be progressively increasing for the number of repetitions performed to achieve your training goals.

The number of repetitions per set of exercises can then be adjusted between say 15 and 8 over a ten week strength training cycle. From these adjustments, as you move from week one to week ten, the absolute intensity of the exercise increases (the weight used for the exercises increases) thus promoting more functional muscle growth.

The closer your strength training cycle progresses towards the end of the cycle, the lower you’ll find the repetitions will become and the weight will become heavier. This will have an affect of increasing your lean functional muscle and elevate your metabolism for fat loss.

For gains in strength and muscle size, long rest periods must be used to replenish the phosphate energy system for the maximum performance in the next exercise.

Slow controlled contractions are also recommended for controlled tension on the muscle and safety. When you reach a point where you’re using exercises with heavy weights (free weights, like the bench press), have a helper or spotter handy who will give you support on the last few reps. alternatively, you can use machines where no spotter is necessary.

In conclusion, by performing the right number of repetitions correctly you will be one step ahead of the pack in attaining your exercise and strength training goals.

About the Author of This Article

Gary Matthews is the author of the popular fitness eBooks Maximum Weight Loss and Maximum Weight Gain.


My name is Karen Sessions and I am a life-time natural female bodybuilder, multi-certified fitness instructor, author, specialist in performance nutrition, and a success coach. I've been in the fitness industry since 1988! I teach people Just Like You how to transform their bodies, get in shape, build muscle, lose fat and compete in Bodybuilding, Physique, and Figure Competitions. When you have the CORRECT information you can have total confidence and turn your dreams into reality... and I can help transform YOUR body. I have helped THOUSANDS of clients reach their goals and I can help you, too. Be sure to grab my free gift above so you can start moving toward your goal.

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