I get a lot of questions regarding how many sets are best for building muscle working on skills or losing weight. A lot of these questions come from reading a lot of conflicting recommendations from various experts. Some advocate doing no more than 1-2 sets. Other’s claim high volume is the key to build muscle and strength. With so many conflicting advice it’s no wonder people are confused.
The truth is, there’s value in both short workouts that only use a few sets and long workouts that put you through one set after another. It’s not a case of one approach is good or bad but rather which one is best for you and your goals.
I like to think of the about of exercise you do kind of like using portion size with food. Sometimes, all you need is a movement “snack” to loosen up and stimulate the muscles a bit. Other times you’re super hungry and need to fill yourself up with a lot more volume. Most of the time you’ll find yourself in the middle.
Here’s the important lesson:
The set number is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Some folks do better with move volume while other’s thrive on less. Sometimes you’ll be better off with just one or two sets while other times you’ll want to do more. It’s not a case where one perspective is always best. Understanding this gives you the flexibility to adjust your training to best fit your preferences, resources, and goals. Now you can figure out the best number of sets for you.
Check out this week’s podcast to learn more about adjusting how many sets you should do for you: