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TheLostHDPenguin
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#1
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#1
Hello, I am a bit confused when it comes to reps and sets. When I workout should I have the same amount of reps for each set. I am training hypertrophy and have researched that I need to be in the 8 - 12 range. Does this mean if I do 3 sets then for the first set I should do 12 reps, then next next set increase weight and then do 10 reps and then 3rd set increase weight and then i should only be able to do around 8 reps. or should I start off with around 10 reps and by the last set only be able to do like 5 to 6 reps?

In the next few days I would love to start losing body fat too so I will implement cardio into every workout for 20 minutes or so. is this also correct?
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Kyri
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#2
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#2
It sounds like you're talking about pyramiding the weight up. This is usually done for strength training where it's important to keep increasing the load, and the lifter pyramids up to a top set. This isn't really necessary for hypertrophy, especially as a beginner. The most important thing for hypertrophy is getting your muscles 0-3 reps from failure with enough volume to stimulate growth. This can be done with the same weight over multiple sets.

And a related question... if you're doing straight sets with the same weight, should you get the same number of reps in every set? If you're training to failure, you will not be able to get the same number of reps in subsequent sets and that's okay. If you are leaving reps in the tank (you can still make good gains leaving 1 - 3 reps in the tank), you may well still get the same number of reps in subsequent sets, but it will feel harder.

It also depends on how much rest you're taking. The less you rest, the less reps you will get in subsequent sets. I highly recommend you take enough rest to maximise your later sets by getting more reps. Make sure you rest at least 2 minutes. Even 3 minutes is okay. The longer you rest the better actually from a "gains" point of view, but you just take much longer to complete your workout.

Another note... even though you are training hypertrophy, you need to increase the weight you can handle in the 8 - 12 rep range over time. If you don't, your gains will stop once your body has adapted to a certain weight. So if you hit your maximum rep goal in all your sets. increase the weight next time.

As for losing fat... All that matters is a calorie deficit. Cardio can help achieve that. Beginners can build muscle and lose fat at the same time, but keep in mind your muscle gains will be less while in a calorie deficit than what they would have been at maintenance or calorie surplus.

I hope this helped.
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Robsmith23
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#3
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#3
(Original post by TheLostHDPenguin)
Hello, I am a bit confused when it comes to reps and sets. When I workout should I have the same amount of reps for each set. I am training hypertrophy and have researched that I need to be in the 8 - 12 range. Does this mean if I do 3 sets then for the first set I should do 12 reps, then next next set increase weight and then do 10 reps and then 3rd set increase weight and then i should only be able to do around 8 reps. or should I start off with around 10 reps and by the last set only be able to do like 5 to 6 reps?

In the next few days I would love to start losing body fat too so I will implement cardio into every workout for 20 minutes or so. is this also correct?
Forget cardio. It is ineffective for fat loss. High intensity interval training is far better. Alternate short bursts of maximal effort with rest intervals. There are plenty of resources available online with decent HIIT programmes.
Last edited by Robsmith23; 1 month ago
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Kyri
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#4
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#4
(Original post by Robsmith23)
Forget cardio. It is ineffective for fat loss. High intensity interval training is far better. Alternate short bursts of maximal effort with rest intervals. There are plenty of resources available online with decent HIIT programmes.
HIIT is great if you want to improve athletic performance, or just really strapped for time. If all you want is fat loss, it's not necessary. You can burn the same calories with low intensity steady state cardio over a longer time period, with far less impact on your muscle recovery. So since the original poster wants to build muscle as well, LISS would be preferable to HIIT.
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TheLostHDPenguin
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#5
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#5
Ok, so I think I get it. I’m going to write an example of what I think it should go like:1 - 2 warmup sets at a low weight: then 30kg x 12, 30kg x 12, 30kg x 12 Then if I complete all that at 12 reps then next time i train35 x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12Then week after 35 x 12, 35 x 6 (if I can’t get to 12), 30 x 12 Is this what I understand correctly?
Last edited by TheLostHDPenguin; 1 month ago
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Kyri
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#6
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#6
(Original post by TheLostHDPenguin)
Ok, so I think I get it. I’m going to write an example of what I think it should go like:1 - 2 warmup sets at a low weight: then 30kg x 12, 30kg x 12, 30kg x 12 Then if I complete all that at 12 reps then next time i train35 x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12Then week after 35 x 12, 35 x 6 (if I can’t get to 12), 30 x 12 Is this what I understand correctly?
That seems good to me. My only comment is, when you increase the weight, do it with the smallest increase possible to promote longer term progress. Basically you don't want to increase the weights far quicker than your body can adapt, or you'll stall faster. I understand if you're at a gym that has dumbbells in 2.5 kg jumps, you have to increase by 5 kg. If you're loading plates onto a bar though, use the smallest increases possible.
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Robsmith23
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#7
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#7
(Original post by Kyri)
HIIT is great if you want to improve athletic performance, or just really strapped for time. If all you want is fat loss, it's not necessary. You can burn the same calories with low intensity steady state cardio over a longer time period, with far less impact on your muscle recovery. So since the original poster wants to build muscle as well, LISS would be preferable to HIIT.
Unfortunately, studies do not support this. Actually, quite the opposite.

There have been a number of studies that compared the fat loss effects of cardio against interval training. For example, an Australian study (The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity (2008) 32, 684–691) looked at the effect of doing 20 minutes of interval training 3 times per week compared to doing 40 minutes of cardio 3 times per week. Despite the cardio group exercising for twice the time of the interval training group the cardio group actually gained on average 1lb of fat whilst the interval training group each lost an average of 5.5lbs of fat!

In a study (Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8) as far back as 1994 researchers compared a 20 week cardio programme against a 15 week interval training programme and found that, even though the interval training programme was carried out over a shorter period, it led to much greater fat loss. The researchers measured the levels of fat under the skin before and after the programmes and found that the interval training participants lost on average 13.9mm of fat but the cardio participants lost only 3.5mm.

One other thing that is interesting about this study is that the researchers calculated the total amount of calories burned during the workouts and found that the cardio group burned 28,661 calories and the interval group burned only 13,614 yet still lost much more fat.
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Kyri
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#8
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#8
(Original post by Robsmith23)
Unfortunately, studies do not support this. Actually, quite the opposite.

There have been a number of studies that compared the fat loss effects of cardio against interval training. For example, an Australian study (The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity (2008) 32, 684–691) looked at the effect of doing 20 minutes of interval training 3 times per week compared to doing 40 minutes of cardio 3 times per week. Despite the cardio group exercising for twice the time of the interval training group the cardio group actually gained on average 1lb of fat whilst the interval training group each lost an average of 5.5lbs of fat!

In a study (Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism. 1994 Jul;43(7):814-8) as far back as 1994 researchers compared a 20 week cardio programme against a 15 week interval training programme and found that, even though the interval training programme was carried out over a shorter period, it led to much greater fat loss. The researchers measured the levels of fat under the skin before and after the programmes and found that the interval training participants lost on average 13.9mm of fat but the cardio participants lost only 3.5mm.

One other thing that is interesting about this study is that the researchers calculated the total amount of calories burned during the workouts and found that the cardio group burned 28,661 calories and the interval group burned only 13,614 yet still lost much more fat.
Thanks for bringing up those studies. The findings are definitely interesting, but I'm not so sure about how relevant they are to people who weight train regularly and control their diet. Looking into them a bit more, they both state that subjects were instructed to maintain their regular diets, suggesting that this wasn't controlled at all. Given that diet, calorie intake, and protein intake, are absolutely essential components to body composition, I feel that will skew the results far too much. Also it doesn't appear that any of the groups were instructed to undertake resistance training, so it's not surprising that in absence of other training, HIIT will stimulate muscles more, leading to less muscle loss (or even muscle gain if they're previously untrained), and therefore more fat loss. The original poster will be lifting weights so muscles will be getting enough stimulation already.

Another point... The Int J Obes study states in the methods section "For the HIIE protocol, each subject performed 8 s of sprinting and 12 s of turning the pedals over slowly for a maximum of 60 repeats a session". Whilst this is definitely a form of interval training, this can't be "high intensity" in a technical sense. If they really were going all out or near all out for 8 s. there's no way they could rest 12 s and go all out again... 60 times. So I'd argue the HIIT wasn't actually HIIT. It's more an endurance style of training.

Fitness is very complex and it's not too difficult to find a study to support either side of an argument if someone decides to look for it. Like, with a few minutes of searching I found Obes Rev. 2017 Aug;18(8):943-964. , Obes Rev. 2017 Jun;18(6):635-646. and Sports Med. 2019 Nov;49(11):1687-1721. which draw opposing conclusions to the two studies cited above.

Obes Rev. 2017 Aug;18(8):943-964. in particular is a review of other studies, and in their analysis they rated the apparent validity of the studies they found based on various factors, one of them being how well diet was controlled since this is essential for body composition. In the end they actually concluded that "There were no differences between HIIT/SIT and MICT for any body fat outcome".

Obes Rev. 2017 Jun;18(6):635-646. found that "HIIT and MICT show similar effectiveness across all body composition measures suggesting that HIIT may be a time-efficient component of weight management programs". So according to this, HIIT is time-efficient (which I agree with), but not better for fat loss.

Sports Med. 2019 Nov;49(11):1687-1721. actually found that "low-volume HIIT is inefficient for the modulation of total body fat mass or total body fat percentage in comparison with a non-exercise control and MICT. A novel finding of our meta-analysis was that there appears to be no significant effect of low-volume HIIT on lean body mass when compared with a non-exercising control, and while most studies tended to favour improvement in lean body mass with low-volume HIIT versus MICT, this was not significant"

I'm not sure about that last one saying that HIIT is no better than no exercise at all for fat loss, but in the text they make a good point of "from the view of the influential factors of body composition, confounding factors such as extra physical activity in addition to the training program and/or the dietary intake of the participants have been neglected in some studies". The point is, not all studies are carried out as meticulously as each other, and fitness is so complex we have to look at studies critically and not in isolation.

There are probably loads more out there, but I've had enough of looking at fitness studies for one morning haha. Since the original poster is weight training in addition to doing cardio, I'm still of the opinion that lower intensity cardio would be less interfering towards muscles gains for him, whilst the weight lifting will be providing plenty of stimulation so that aspect of HIIT isn't required.
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TheLostHDPenguin
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#9
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#9
(Original post by Kyri)
That seems good to me. My only comment is, when you increase the weight, do it with the smallest increase possible to promote longer term progress. Basically you don't want to increase the weights far quicker than your body can adapt, or you'll stall faster. I understand if you're at a gym that has dumbbells in 2.5 kg jumps, you have to increase by 5 kg. If you're loading plates onto a bar though, use the smallest increases possible.
Ok thank you. Yeah because I think you said what I was doing before was basically working my weights up so each set increase the amount of weight. But what I will do is do two warm up sets and then go go into my main lifts. If this makes sense. If let’s say I can’t do 12 reps and I do 6, should I rest and then finish the set or if I cant do it then just leave it and decrease the weight?
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Kyri
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#10
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#10
(Original post by TheLostHDPenguin)
Ok thank you. Yeah because I think you said what I was doing before was basically working my weights up so each set increase the amount of weight. But what I will do is do two warm up sets and then go go into my main lifts. If this makes sense. If let’s say I can’t do 12 reps and I do 6, should I rest and then finish the set or if I cant do it then just leave it and decrease the weight?
A couple of warm up sets before your working sets sounds fine for hypertrophy work.

If you aim for 12 reps but only get 6, you've selected a weight that's too high. To understand what you're asking, it sounds like you're suggesting resting after your 6 reps, then doing another 6 reps to get your total of 12. Because your focus is hypertrophy, I would recommend the second option you gave. Leave it at 6 reps for that set, then reduce the weight. If you went near failure, those 6 reps will still stimulate growth. They will have more of a strength gain emphasis, but hey, a stronger muscle will help you lift more weight, which will let you lift more volume, which helps you grow your muscles, which can then get stronger... etc. It's all related!

Try not to overcomplicate it in your head. As long as you're gradually increasing what you can lift (weight and reps) over the long term, you're doing well.
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TheLostHDPenguin
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#11
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#11
(Original post by Kyri)
A couple of warm up sets before your working sets sounds fine for hypertrophy work.

If you aim for 12 reps but only get 6, you've selected a weight that's too high. To understand what you're asking, it sounds like you're suggesting resting after your 6 reps, then doing another 6 reps to get your total of 12. Because your focus is hypertrophy, I would recommend the second option you gave. Leave it at 6 reps for that set, then reduce the weight. If you went near failure, those 6 reps will still stimulate growth. They will have more of a strength gain emphasis, but hey, a stronger muscle will help you lift more weight, which will let you lift more volume, which helps you grow your muscles, which can then get stronger... etc. It's all related!

Try not to overcomplicate it in your head. As long as you're gradually increasing what you can lift (weight and reps) over the long term, you're doing well.
Ok thank you. Yeah In my head I probably am overthinking so much. So I should just increase the weight a little bit 1.25kg lets say heavier once i get all my sets to 12 on the previous session. and then just do like 5 sets and work from there. I think it all makes sense now. Im just going to give it a try and see what happens really.
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Kyri
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#12
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#12
(Original post by TheLostHDPenguin)
Ok thank you. Yeah In my head I probably am overthinking so much. So I should just increase the weight a little bit 1.25kg lets say heavier once i get all my sets to 12 on the previous session. and then just do like 5 sets and work from there. I think it all makes sense now. Im just going to give it a try and see what happens really.
Sounds good to me. If you haven't thought of it already, it might help to write down what you did on each session so you can track your progress over time. It's always nice to have the confirmation that you're on the right track. Good luck
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