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      FITNESS TIPS FOR 4/18/2001                  

How Many Sets? And How Many Reps Per Set? 
Author Unknown

One of the most common questions asked is, "How many sets 
should I do, and how many reps each set?  In this section, we 
will attempt to answer those two questions and leave you with 
a better idea of what to attempt in the gym.

What is your body type?

One of the seven grand-daddy laws of lifting is that each 
person is unique and different. Different people respond 
differently to stimuli and different body types respond 
differently as well. Maybe you have noticed that there seem 
to be two major classes of individuals: those who put on 
mass easily, and those who don't. Furthermore, from what 
I've seen in the gyms over the years, most people have 
difficulty adding mass. Putting aside the nutritional aspect 
in weight lifting, we need to figure out what the difference 
is between the "mass gainers," the "hard gainers," and
the "in betweeners."

The Population

Since there is most probably a bell-curve distribution of 
body types, we can address each population separately:

1.  The Mass Gainers
Mass gainers are on the left end of the spectrum. The 
muscles on these individuals are composed mostly of 
white fiber, that is, Type IIb  fibers. These fibers are 
referred to as the "fast twitch" fibers (twitching at
approximately 120+ times/sec.) and are the strong, 
explosive fibers, i.e. sprinters. Although white fibers 
are are strong, the endurance level of these fibers is 
very low. A friend of mine who is a former competitive
power lifter, for example, could never do more than 
five reps on any set for bench press: 135, 200, 275, 
400 lbs.

Also, these individuals will receive the most benefit 
from low-rep, low-volume training. In fact, most of 
these people will only need to exercise each body 
part once per week due to muscle recovery issues.

2.  The Hard Gainers
The hard gainers are on the right end of the spectrum. 
These people possess mostly red fiber muscles, Type 
I fiber. Type I fiber is slow twitch (twitching at 
approximately 40 times/sec.), but is highly resistant 
to fatigue. The fibers are best for the long haul, i.e.
distance runners. Picture in your mind at this point 
the difference between a world-class sprinter and
a world-class marathon runner.

Results of weight lifting are best achieved through 
high-rep, high-volume training. Body parts should be 
worked out at least twice per week (maybe even three
times per week depending on the training objective). 
Another important point is that often times, these red 
fibered individuals may only increase their lean 
tissue size by about 15%.

3. The In-Betweeners
Probably 75% of the population falls into this category. 
Muscle fiber count between Type I and Type II falls 
somewhere in between 40-60% of all fibers either way.  
Weight training, therefore, can be performed using the
mid-range of reps (8-14), with most body parts being 
worked out twice per week.


In order to best achieve optimum results in your weight 
lifting endeavors, determining your body type is very 
important. It may take some time to figure this out, 
however, especially if you are a beginner. But here 
are some guidelines: if you are bulky and tend to put 
on weight easily, you are most likely a Mass Gainer; 
if you never can add weight, no matter how much 
food you eat, you may be a Hard Gainer.


Mass Gainers     
Reps - Low (2-6)                                                  
Sets - Low                   
Frequency - Low
Intensity -   High                                 

Reps - Medium (6-12)                                                 
Sets - Medium                   
Frequency - Medium
Intensity - Medium

Hard Gainers     
Reps - High (12+)                                                
Sets - High                 
Frequency - High
Intensity -  Low

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