Do you really know how many sets you should be doing in order to make your muscle grow?
If you aren’t sure and have doubts about the training volume you should be using, then this article is exactly for you.
The number of sets for each muscle group per week or per training session depends on your training stage.
Beginner: If you are a beginner to resistance training than you will see results with as little as < 3 sets per training session per muscle group, if you train twice a week (< 6 sets per week).
Intermediate: If you are a novice or an intermediate lifter, then doing less than 5 sets per muscle group per week is not likely going to give you any gains. In this case, 5-9 sets are definitely better and more than 10 sets per muscle group per week seems to be the best.
Advanced: It seems that advanced lifters and athletes in particular should do even more sets per muscle group, per week.
But is there a cap? How much is too much?
Even though the evidence is lacking, it seems like doing 9 sets per muscle group per training session is too much. There seem to be an upper limit of what gives you more gains.
If you were to ask me about how I design training programs, I would tell you that I usually use 10-20 sets per muscle group, per week for intermediate lifters and for advanced lifters 20-45 sets per muscle group, per week, depending on their training history and the ability to recover.
Well, after clarifying how many reps and sets you should do, one question remains:
How much weight should I use?
I think the answer to this question is the simplest one:
- If you can do more than 15 reps with this particular weight, it’s too light (unless you are one of the slow-twitch dominant muscle fiber outliers).
- If your form breaks down, you decrease your range of motion (e.g. do a quarter squat) and your exercise execution looks as ugly as hell, then the weight is too heavy.
I hope this article can help you with making sure that your training volume is high enough for gains!
If you don't want to bother with calculating the optimal training volume for each muscle group and want to get an optimal program designed for your training stage right now, then check out my Training Plan Package.
The package includes whole-body workouts, upper-lower body split workouts and 3-day body-part split workouts with training volume adjusted to different training stages.
In part 3 of this series I will address the question of how to design a training program for fat loss. Stay tuned!