Sets and reps can be so confusing, I am here to set the record straight!

sets and reps feature image - woman weight lifting

I wanted to write a post about this on its own because it’s so intimidating as a beginner to get a grip on all of the “lingo”. I remember hearing people in the gym talking sets and reps and I had no clue what that meant. After researching and talking to professionals I got the low down on what they mean, the different ways you can write them and how they help you work out. You’ll be an expert at fitness journals in no time

What is a rep?

Short for repetitions, this is the amount of times you repeat the exercise in one go, a lot of different people will write their sets and reps in different ways (I would love to know how you write yours, leave me a comment) I write mine like this;
Example:
Squats 2 x 12, 30r”  = Which is simply, 2 rounds of 12 non-stop squats with 30 seconds rest in between = 24 squats total

What is a set?

This can also be described as a “round” but essentially is the number of times you repeat the GROUP of exercises;
using the Example above:
Squats 2 x 12, 30r” is 12 squats non stop, 30-second rest, repeat 2 times.

Other ways of writing sets and reps:

Everyone is different and you will find that you will prefer a certain type of shorthand, other ways that people write it down are:
  • Sets x Reps
  • Reps x Sets
Those who are serious about bodybuilding will look at incorporating the weight they are lifting into their sets and reps too i.e:
Sets X Reps X Weight
Ultimately it doesn’t matter as long as you know what your own shorthand means and you are not accidentally performing them the wrong way around (i.e. 2 squats, 30 seconds rest x 12 – because that does not work out your muscles at all) It’s also important to note that sets and reps can be applied to bodyweight exercises and aren’t exclusive to weight or strength training. Here is an example of my log book and diary that I use to note sets and reps.
My Log it or Lose it book makes it easier for me to track workouts, sets and reps
My Log it or Lose it book makes it easier for me to track workouts

 Hopefully, this has made it easier to understand and less confusing or intimating if you are a beginner starting out.

For more information for beginners, check out the Health & Fitness Index

 *To get my log book (it’s great for beginners) here’s my affiliate link: Gym Diary – A pocket sized workout log book … (Red) to purchase one. For more information on my affiliates visit the Affiliate Page
learn about what sets and reps mean in gym lingo, how to read and write them and why they are useful. #gym #workout #exercise #training #fitfam #weightlifting

13 comments on “Sets & Reps made simple”

  1. Great explanation! I remember when I started working out I could not keep these two straight. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for linking up to Fitness Friday, hope to see you back today.

  2. I have seen it written rep X sets. I like how you added the rest time. I haven’t done sets in reps in a long time with weights I usually tend to stick to my exercise DVD routine.

  3. Love this. I’m a big fan of my own sets and reps (I do the Tracy Anderson Method) and love how quickly a targeted approach pays off.
    Congratulations on Losing so much weight – You look amazing!
    Anna x

  4. Really useful post. I know my gym buddies still struggle with this sometimes. There can be so much to think about, a few helpful lingo tips can be so useful.

    You’re getting a head start on a healthy new year eh! I’m a big fan of insanity classes, plenty of reps and sets in that one eh!

    Sally @ Life Loving

  5. I am struggling so hard to get back into exercising. Your post has inspired me though and perhaps if I had a log book… it would be more organised and easier!

    • I would recommend speaking to your doctor first to make sure exercising with your current back condition is the way to go ! after that there are great back support and straps that can help take the strain off of your back so you can do most normal exercise activities xx

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