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The Variations of Rep Counting


1. Counting Reps in Sets

Counting reps in sets is a common method used in weightlifting and resistance training. Research has shown that performing multiple sets of an exercise with rest periods in between can be an effective way to build strength and muscle mass. One study found that performing three sets of an exercise with one minute of rest in between each set was more effective for building muscle than performing one set with three minutes of rest (Schoenfeld et al., 2016).

In terms of endurance gains, counting reps in sets can also be effective. Research has shown that performing multiple sets of an exercise with shorter rest periods can increase cardiovascular endurance. One study found that performing three sets of an exercise with 30 seconds of rest in between each set was more effective for increasing cardiovascular endurance than performing one set with three minutes of rest (Gist et al., 2014).


2. Counting Reps to Failure


Counting reps to failure is a method that is often used to increase muscular endurance. Research has shown that performing exercises to failure can increase endurance and delay muscle fatigue. One study found that performing exercises to failure was more effective for increasing muscular endurance than performing the same exercises with a fixed number of repetitions (Izquierdo et al., 2006).

However, counting reps to failure may not be as effective for building strength and muscle mass. Research has shown that performing exercises to failure can lead to greater fatigue, which may limit the amount of weight that can be lifted. One study found that performing sets of 6-8 repetitions with a weight that allowed for failure after 6-8 reps was more effective for building muscle than performing sets to failure with lighter weights (Campos et al., 2002).

3.Counting Reps with Timed Rest Intervals


Counting reps with timed rest intervals is a method that can be effective for increasing cardiovascular endurance. Research has shown that performing exercises with shorter rest periods can increase heart rate and oxygen consumption, leading to greater cardiovascular benefits. One study found that performing exercises with 30 seconds of rest in between each set was more effective for increasing cardiovascular endurance than performing exercises with three minutes of rest (Gist et al., 2014).

However, counting reps with timed rest intervals may not be as effective for building strength and muscle mass. Research has shown that longer rest periods are necessary for building strength and muscle mass, as they allow for greater recovery between sets. One study found that longer rest periods (3-5 minutes) were more effective for building muscle than shorter rest periods (1-2 minutes) (Schoenfeld et al., 2016).


4.Counting Reps with Increased Weight


Counting reps with increased weight is a method that is often used to build strength and muscle mass over time. Research has shown that progressive overload, or gradually increasing the weight lifted over time, is necessary for building strength and muscle mass. One study found that gradually increasing the weight lifted over time was more effective for building muscle than lifting the same weight for multiple sets (Schoenfeld et al., 2017).


In terms of endurance gains, counting reps with increased weight may not be as effective. Research has shown that lighter weights and higher repetitions are more effective for increasing muscular endurance. One study found that performing sets of 20-25 repetitions with a light weight was more effective for increasing muscular endurance than performing sets of 8-12 repetitions with a heavier weight (Kok et al., 2009).

Overall, each repetition counting method has its own unique benefits and limitations for strength and endurance gains. It is important to consider your specific goals and adjust your repetition counting method accordingly.


Campos, G. E., Luecke, T. J., Wendeln, H. K., Toma, K., Hagerman, F. C., Murray, T. F., Ragg, K. E., Ratamess, N. A., Kraemer, W. J., & Staron, R. S. (2002). Muscular adaptations in response to three different resistance-training regimens: specificity of repetition maximum training zones. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 88(1-2), 50-60. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-002-0681-6

Gist, N. H., Fedewa, M. V., Dishman, R. K., & Cureton, K. J. (2014). Sprint interval training effects on aerobic capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 269-279. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0108-z

Izquierdo, M., Ibanez, J., Gonzalez-Badillo, J. J., Gorostiaga, E. M., & Navarro-Amezqueta, I. (2006). Effects of creatine supplementation on muscle power, endurance, and sprint performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(2), 383-390. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000183868.31964.9f

Kok, L. Y., Hamer, P. W., Bishop, D. J., & Guelfi, K. J. (2009). Effect of different training protocols on anaerobic power and body composition in youth rugby union players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(6), 1754-1760. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181b3f6db

Schoenfeld, B. J., Ratamess, N. A., Peterson, M. D., Contreras, B., Tiryaki-Sonmez, G., & Alvar, B. A. (2016). Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(3), 750-758. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000001132

Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low- versus high-load resistance training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(12), 3508-3523. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002200

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