A question we often get asked is, “How many sets should we do for maximum muscle growth.” If you attend a local gym, you’ll get a different answer for everyone you ask. Bodybuilders will give you a different answer than athletes. Everyone has an opinon, but what does the science tell us?
When it comes to building muscle, there are many factors that can affect your progress. One of these factors is the number of sets you do per muscle group per workout. But how many sets should you do in order to maximize muscle growth? The answer isn’t necessarily straightforward, as it can depend on a variety of factors such as your experience level, the intensity of your sets, the volume of your workouts, the type of exercises you’re doing, and the amount of rest you’re taking between sets. In this article, we’ll provide some general guidelines for determining the optimal number of sets for maximizing muscle growth, based on your experience level, as well as look at some research on the topic and discuss how to achieve hypertrophy (increase in muscle size).
- As a beginner, your muscles are not used to the demands of weightlifting, so you’ll be able to stimulate growth with a relatively low number of sets.
- A good starting point is to do 2-3 sets per muscle group per workout. You can gradually increase the number of sets as you become more comfortable with the exercises and your muscles adapt to the demands of weightlifting.
- It’s important to focus on learning proper form and technique, as this will help you to get the most out of your workouts and minimize the risk of injury.
- Take 1-2 minutes of rest between sets.
For experienced lifters:
- As an experienced lifter, your muscles are accustomed to the demands of weightlifting, so you’ll need to do more sets in order to continue making progress.
- A good starting point is to do 4-6 sets per muscle group per workout. You may find that you need to do more or fewer sets depending on your goals and how your body responds to the workouts.
- Progressive overload is important for continuing to stimulate muscle growth, so be sure to regularly increase the demands on your muscles by adding weight, increasing the number of reps, or increasing the number of sets you do.
- Take 2-3 minutes of rest between sets when lifting heavy weights, and 1-2 minutes of rest between sets when lifting lighter weights.
- As an expert, you’ll have a lot of experience with weightlifting and your muscles will be highly developed.
- To continue making progress, you’ll need to do a high number of sets and use a variety of techniques to challenge your muscles in different ways.
- This might include doing sets of higher reps (e.g. 12-15 reps), doing drop sets (reducing the weight after each set), or using techniques like negatives (lowering the weight slowly on the eccentric phase of the exercise).
- You may also need to incorporate specialized training techniques like forced reps (having a spotter assist you with additional reps) or static holds (holding a weight in a fixed position for a period of time).
- Take 3-5 minutes of rest between sets when lifting heavy weights, and 2-3 minutes of rest between sets when lifting lighter weights.
Research on the topic:
- A review of research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that a volume of 9-15 sets per muscle group per week was most effective for muscle growth in trained individuals. This volume can be achieved by doing 3-5 sets per muscle group per workout, spread out over 3-5 workouts per week.
- Another review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that, for trained individuals, muscle growth was greatest when performing 3-5 sets per exercise, with 3-5 reps per set and using heavy weights (80-95% of 1RM).
How to achieve hypertrophy:
- To achieve hypertrophy, it’s important to lift weights that are heavy enough to challenge your muscles. This typically means lifting weights that are 70-80% of your one-rep max (the maximum weight you can lift for one rep).
- It’s also important to use proper form and technique to ensure that you’re effectively targeting the muscle you’re working.
- In addition to lifting weights, it’s important to consume enough protein to support muscle growth. Aim for 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
- Adequate rest and recovery are also important for muscle growth. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night and allow for sufficient rest between workouts.
It’s worth noting that these are just general guidelines and that the optimal number of sets for maximizing muscle growth can vary depending on the individual. Factors such as genetics, training history, diet, and recovery can all play a role in determining the best training approach for you. It’s often helpful to experiment with different set and rep ranges and track your progress to see what works best for you.
In conclusion, the number of sets you do per muscle group per workout can be an important factor in maximizing muscle growth, but it’s also important to consider other variables such as intensity, volume, exercise selection, and rest periods. For beginners, a good starting point is 2-3 sets per muscle group per workout, while experienced lifters may benefit from doing 4-6 sets per muscle group per workout. Experts may need to do a high number of sets and use a variety of techniques to continue making progress. Research suggests that a volume of 9-15 sets per muscle group per week is most effective for muscle growth in trained individuals, and that muscle growth is greatest when performing 3-5 sets per exercise with 3-5 reps per set and using heavy weights. To achieve hypertrophy, it’s important to lift heavy weights with proper form, consume enough protein, and get sufficient rest and recovery. However, it’s important to remember that these are just general guidelines and that the optimal number of sets can vary depending on the individual.