A lot of us want to keep our body in good health and shape. Some choose to go buy a gym membership, regardless of whether they will actually visit the gym or not. Then, there are some others, who choose to exercise at home and look up recommended workouts on the Internet. The workout of these people include the mandatory cardio and weight training they can do at home. 

Working at home is convenient. It requires no extra cost and can be done whenever you have time. But the problem that arises is how many sets of each exercise ? How many sets for muscle growth?

At a gym, you will find trainers or your fellow gym goers who will recommend you something according to your body type and what you would like to achieve post the training. At home, this input is absent, and hence, we’ll try to answer this question here for all those who like to workout,  but don’t wish to spend money on the gym fees.

Basics for beginners

  • Cardio vs Weight training 

But, first let us clear out some basic terminology. Cardio workouts are those which involve constant exercises which are meant to keep your pulse rate high. Higher beats per minute is important if you wish to lose weight and max up your energy levels. Higher pulse rate allows the body to combust more of the fats and fuel you have stored in your body, as your body requires high energy to keep up with the workout. Hence, cardio is meant to keep the heartbeat high and is what leads you to lose weight. 

Muscle or weight training, on the other hand, is when your workout involves heavy intense exercises which aid you to grow your muscles physically. These muscle mass gaining exercises somewhat damage your muscles with the intense workout, which include lifting heavyweights. Post this,  the body repairs itself with the proteins and other food items you consume.

And when your body rebuilds these muscles, they tend to be larger and hence, give you a more muscular body. Why does the body make these muscles larger? This is because it is a defense mechanism of your body which makes itself stronger in the face of repeated trauma to keep the damage the farthest away it can. 

  • Reps vs Sets

The word rep is short for repetition. It indicates the number of times you perform one complete exercise without taking a break in between. For example, if you perform ten squats in one, then it means 10 reps of squats. 

The word set in contrast, means the times you have to perform the said fixed number of reps with breaks in between. For example, if you do ten squats, take a thirty seconds break, and then again do ten squats, this means 2 sets of 10 reps of squats.

What is 1RM?

RM here stands for repetition maximum. It indicates the maximum weight one can manage to lift in a given set. This differs from person to person, and even differs for the same person from time to time. 

sets for muscle

So now that we have got the basic stuff out of the way, let’s go back to the initial and main purpose of the article. How many sets should I do? How many sets per exercise?

How many sets for muscle growth?

Ideally, the recommendations are three sets for muscle growth. Depending on what your target physique is, some might even be suggested to do upto six sets. However, we would recommend a gradual increase to the six sets, rather than doing six sets from the first day itself. 

As mentioned earlier, in order to gain muscle mass, you essentially need to exert pressure on your muscles upto an extent that they are slightly damaged. This is what causes the soreness when you wake up the next day from a heavy workout, especially those leg days which make even simple walking troublesome. 

The amount of weight you lift, and the number of times you lift it, is what is going to determine this amount of damage your muscles suffer, and the subsequent increase in the amount of muscles of the region, i.e., the muscle mass.

Now let’s get to more details about these three to six sets for muscle growth. For muscle growth, it is generally recommended that to gain muscle mass one needs to carry out 6 to 12 reps with weights of 70-80% of their RM in each set. This means that if you can lift 10 kilograms as the highest weight while doing twelve reps, then you should work with 7-8 kgs only. That means at least 3 sets of 12 reps with 7-8 kgs (if your RM is 10 kgs.) is what you must do for muscle growth. Another important aspect of this mentioned workout is that between each set, you must take a rest of about 30 to 90 seconds. 

An important thing to note is that consistency is key when doing sets for muscle growth. Your pace and the breaks you take, all should stay uniform throughout the workout. It should not be a thirty seconds break between the first two sets and then a ninety seconds break after that. A little inconsistency is okay in the beginning as you are just starting out and it will take some time for your body to get used to it. But if you are serious about achieving your target, we recommend you keep the consistency.

As for what you would want to use for weights, you can go either for the dumbbell or the kettlebell. See what works better for you. Though if you are someone who is doing weights for the first time, we suggest you go with the dumbbells. This is because they provide for an easier grip and it is relatively easy to control them. 

If you want to add something more to your workout, you can try out some CrossFit Workouts at home. And if you want just more than sets for muscle mass gain, like endurance and power, there are some basic guidelines available for them too