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How Many Sets and Reps Should I Do For Weight Loss?

If You Want to Lose Weight, This Is What Your Strength Program Should Look Like

Photographer: Rima BrindamourRestrictions: Editorial and internal use only. No advertising, no print.

If you're hitting the weights in hopes of losing fat and building muscle, you're on the right path. Strength training is great for weight loss because it does a few things: boosts your metabolism, builds muscle (auf wiedersehen, fat!), burns more calories, and reduces adipose tissue (fat). Now that you've got your strength training refresher, you're probably still wondering exactly how you should be lifting.

As a trainer, I instruct beginners (those who have never strength trained and/or were sedentary) to start with three sets of 10 reps. I do this because I don't want to overstimulate their system and muscles. This set and rep range also ensures that the person is learning proper movement patterns. If someone has a history of working out and is familiar with weightlifting, I'll start them off at four sets of 12 reps to build muscle and strength endurance. If a client is learning a new movement or lifting heavier, I'll go back down to three sets of 10, with the main focus being perfecting form. Once a client has learned basic movement patterns, I'll begin to split up the weight and rep scheme in order to avoid a plateau.

NASM certified trainer Yusuf Jeffers told POPSUGAR, "A strength training program that elicits the most effective adaptation will incorporate three to six sets of eight to 12 reps done at 70 percent of [the person's] one rep max." He explained that this set range will allow strength adaptation to happen, which is the best for building muscle, and as a result, burning fat.

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Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rima Brindamour
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