Reps & Rest – how big do you want to be?

A few ideas on how your approach to training should align specifically to your workout routine and overall fitness goals.

What are your goals?

If you are exercising on a regular basis it is useful to have some form of goal structure that you can then breakdown into further small goals to work away at. This is great for maintaining motivation and measuring your progress.

Do you want bigger muscles?

Are you a runner or biker looking for better efficiency and form for the duration of your event? Your requirements will be different to that of someone looking to increase their strength and physique. Your targets will dictate the plan you put in place to achieve your training / sports goals.

Your workouts, in turn, will vary due to the different systems the human body has in place to perform physical activities of different resistance and time spans.

A word on Specificity

Why oh why the need for a word like specificity, I now need to wipe my computer screen! I just wanted to say, whatever your performance goals your training needs to mimic this as closely as possible to achieve the best changes in your body. That is all.


Muscle fibres

Muscle fibres are where the work gets done, they produce the work that moves the bone and ultimately the limb! For an initial training purposes consider that you have two types of muscles fibres slow (type l) and fast (type II). Fast fibres are more powerful, bigger and take longer to recover. Want to focus solely on getting bigger and stronger, queue here. Slow muscle fibres are predominantly the realm of the endurance athlete they fatigue much more slowly and produce less force than the “arnie” inspired fast types.


How much resistance?

You will often hear people talk in terms of a % of your 1 rep max. I find this unhelpful and it can be a little discouraging if you are unsure of what it means. Basically your 1 rep max is how much weight you could lift for 1 repetition of a given exercise. For your given workout you would then take a % of this amount and perform anything for 2 – 12 repetitions with your given %. I would say always lift with a spotter and always proceed with caution, there is no race to be 20% stronger two weeks earlier.



If you are planning for growth, nutrition is massively important in feeding your muscles the nutrients they need to repair and grow in response to the training stimulus. Consider a proper nutritional plan, ensure you hit your required protein intake among your other macro and micro nutrient needs.


Because fast and slow muscle fibres use different systems to replenish their energy between sets they simply need different amounts of time to recover. Fast fibres need between 2 – 5 minutes and slow fibres anything between 30 – 60 seconds. You will need to experiment to find your optimal recovery, if you are like me you may find it difficult to sit still!

Take away

  1. Lift safe – with someone who can spot you properly and work up to your required weight over time
  2. Training to grow – 4-6 repetitions at least 2 mins rest between sets
  3. Training for a mix of strength and size – 10 repetitions and 1.5 minutes rest should do you
  4. Training for endurance – 15 repetitions 30 – 60 secs rest between sets
  5. Consider a proper nutritional plan, ensure you hit your required protein among you other macro and micro nutrients.

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Live Strong, Strength Rocks!

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