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Repetitions and Sets


Topic Overview

"Repetitions" and "sets" are terms used to describe how many times you do a specific exercise.

  • Repetitions are the number of times you continuously perform each exercise. For example, if you lift a dumbbell up and down once, that's 1 repetition (or rep). If you lift it 5 times, that's 5 reps.
  • Sets are the number of times you do a certain number of repetitions. For example, if you lift the dumbbell 15 times, take a rest, and then lift it another 15 times, you have done 2 sets of 15 reps each.

The number of repetitions and sets you do depends on your goals. If you want to gain strength, do a few sets of a few reps with heavy weights. However, you may want muscular tone and endurance, which means a few sets of many repetitions with light or medium weights.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerHeather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
Last RevisedAugust 4, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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