Health and Safety How Many Sets You Should Be Doing in a Workout By Paige Waehner Updated February 07, 2018 Pin Flip Email Print Tuomas Marttila/Getty Images More in Fitness Health and Safety Beginners Motivation Sports Nutrition Fitness Trends Running Strength Walking Workouts Cardio Flexibility and Stretching Yoga Pilates Fitness Tools and Equipment View All You already know that when you lift weights, you're supposed to do a certain number of sets, but what does that mean? Let's learn more about weight training sets, shall we? The Definition of a Set in Fitness Terminology A set describes a group of repetitions performed for different exercises. For example, when you're looking at a basic strength workout, you might see something like this: "3x10" for, say, a chest press exercise. That means you should do 3 sets of 10 reps....no, that isn't 30 reps. That means you lift a heavy enough weight that you can ONLY do 10 reps. Then you rest and repeat 2 more times. How Many Sets Should You Do in a Workout? In general, the average exerciser does between 1-3 sets of each exercise, though there is some controversy about whether one set elicits the same results as multiple-set training. In fact, there are studies out there that show that, if you're a beginner, one set is plenty, especially if you're lifting a heavy enough weight. But, what if you're more advanced? Or what if you have specific goals? Here's a general chart you can use to figure out how many reps and sets to do based on your goals: Fitness Goals Sets Reps Rest Period Intensity General Fitness 1-2 Sets 8-15 Reps 30-90 Seconds Various Intensity Endurance 2-3 Sets Up to 12 Reps Up to 30 Seconds 60-70% of 1RM Muscle Mass 3-6 Sets 6-12 Reps 30-90 Seconds 70-80% of 1RM Muscle Strength 2-3 Sets Up to 6 Reps 2-5 Minutes 80-90% of 1RM Power - 1 Lift 3-5 Sets 1-2 Reps 2-5 Minutes 90% of 1RM or more How to Use Sets to Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals So, how many sets should you do if you want to lose weight? For weight loss, try incorporating some of the following techniques into your workouts: Circuit Training - With circuit training, you do each exercise, one after the other without rest. This allows you to build muscle while keeping your heart rate elevated, which can help you burn more calories during and after your workout.Supersets - With supersetting, you choose 2 exercises for the same muscle group and do them one after the other. This increases intensity, which can help you burn more calories. Try this Total Body Superset Workout for something that will really challenge you.Tri-Sets - Like supersets, this involves doing 3 exercises for the same muscle group, one after the other, with no rest in between. Again, this is a great way to build more intensity and burn more calories during your workout.Pyramid Training - With this type of training, you build on each set, increasing the weight and decreasing the reps so that you really target those muscle fibers and get the most out of each rep. Try this Upper Body Pyramid Workout. You'll love it!Tabata Strength Training - This is a kind of high-intensity circuit training that keeps your heart rate elevated even more than traditional circuit training, with 20-second work intervals followed by just 10 seconds of rest, repeating that for 4 minutes. It doesn't sound like much, but it's tough. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Get exercise tips to make your workouts less work and more fun. Email Address Sign Up There was an error. Please try again. Thank you, , for signing up. What are your concerns? Other Inaccurate Hard to Understand Submit Article Sources American Council on Exercise. ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 5th 2014. Continue Reading Article Weight Training Exercises and Workout Basics Article Is One Set Better Than Multiple Sets in a Workout? Article How to Set up All the Components of an Effective Workout Article Get Lean and Strong With Supersets for Better Workouts List Beginner Workouts for Men to Do at Home Article You Need to Change Your Strength Workouts Regularly Article Get Pumped With Supersets in Weight Training Article Calculating How Many Calories You Burn During Exercise Article The Beginner's Guide to Getting Stronger List This Total Body Superset Blast Workout Hits All the Muscles Fast! Article Add Power to Your Workout With the Clean and Press Article How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking a Mile? Article How to Do Pyramid Weight Training Workouts List Quick Pilates Workout Can Tone Your Body While on a Mat List The MMA Workout You Can Do at Home Article How Many Miles Should I Run to Lose Weight?