Exercise The SIMPLEST Sets and Reps to Build Muscle

The SIMPLEST Sets and Reps to Build Muscle

The SIMPLEST Sets and Reps to Build Muscle

The Devil Is in the Details

A lot of people who want to build muscle get caught up in these simple questions, and end up missing the big picture. They are too busy reading about the fine points of exercise physiology when they need to be in the gym, moving weights.

  • How many sets should I do?
  • How many reps should I do?

Spoiler Alert; it really does not matter as much as you may think.

As long as you are doing at least a few sets per muscle group, at least twice per week, YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE PROGRESS.

Muscle growth may take time, but the progress will be perfectly clear and quickly visible when you look at the numbers.

Progressive Overload

Means doing more and more work overtime, and is the key to building any muscle group. Let’s get to a really straightforward way to program for progressive overload, and muscle growth.

How Much Weight to Use

  1. Pick an exercise that allows you to really “feel” the muscle working. (For me – it’s the leg press, and my quads are bound to get some serious work)
  2. Slowly work your way up in weights, until you find a weight that you would only be able to do about 10 solid reps with.

How Many Sets and Reps

  1. Start by doing 3 sets of 8 repetitions with that same weight you found above.
  2. Next week, add some high-quality reps.
  3. Slowly work your way up until you can do 3 sets of 12 repetitions.
  4. Then try for 4 sets of 8, working up to 4 sets of 12.
  5. Next up is 5 sets of 8, working up to 5 sets of 12.


Once you can do all 5 sets of 12 repetitions with your given weight, it’s time to bump things up. Add a notch on the selector machine. Put 10 additional pounds on the barbell. Whatever it takes. Start back at 3 sets of 8 repetitions and work your way back up to 5×12 over the weeks.

Too Simple?

Here is the problem… Most folks are looking for something fancy, magical, or a program with a flashy name to it. This program works because it’s dead simple, but only if you do the work.

So, will you have the guts to try something that works? Stick to it for 8 weeks? Let’s find out.

Matteo Marra Coaching

Comments are closed