4 Styles of Workout Sets

How do you train? What do your workout sets look like?


Sure, we all have our preferred styles, but let’s take a quick look at the strengths and weaknesses of each in rep ranges and weight type..

Low Reps, Heavy Weight

This is the route most people take for making strength gains and building muscle. Here’s where you’ll hit your PR’s. You just have to watch the balance of pushing yourself and backing off. You need the oomph and drive to make increases, but if you’re not careful, you will injure yourself.


One example would be doing deadlifts: 315lbs 5×2 (five sets of two reps each).


I think this is the best option to use when you don’t have a lot of time to spare. Narrow your moves to compound lifts, and even just 15 minutes can be enough for low reps and heavy weight.

High Reps, Light Weight

This method of working out is really popular with the ladies, mainly because they’re afraid of “bulking up”. (Little do they know you don’t bulk up that easily). The theory of “toning up” via light weights and lots of reps can work, but you’re going to need a lot more reps than you think. The only real problem here is it’s not very effective use of your time and energy.


For instance, someone might be doing dumbbell shoulder press: 4lbs 3×15 (three sets of fifteen reps each). But, if someone wants to stick with this weight, s/he should either be doing more sets (6×15) or more reps (3X25).


Something to be aware of: when you increase the numbers like that, it’s a lot harder to keep your form.

High Reps, Heavy Weight

Now we’re moving into more dangerous territory. Everything you’ve had to watch out for when it comes to maintain form gets amplified because both reps and weight are increased.


I usually don’t recommend this way of training just because it’s too easy to get sloppy. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used at all.


One great example that shows us both extremes is Crossfit.


On one hand, you have the Crossfit Games, and you might’ve seen all the fail videos they have on YouTube. On the other hand, you have people like Andrew Deutsch at Nerdstrong Gym and Nora Zazueta at MoreFitMorFab that’ll train people right.

Low Reps, Light Weight

And now it’s time to cover the least effective and easiest approach to training. If you don’t use enough weight, you don’t have enough resistance. On top of that, you’re barely doing any reps?


This might be a good option for people who have their diet on point.


Another way to make this work is if you pick more difficult moves and turn your “reps” into attempts. Let’s say you want to stick with bodyweight moves. Maybe you’ll just see how many times you can to a handstand push-up or a just see how close you can get to a flag.


The only other way to make this work is to do isometrics, moves where you’re holding position for as much time as possible (i.e. the plank).



All in all, you probably want to use some combination of the styles above. You could alternate the approach depending on the move. Maybe you alternate by the day. Just stay flexible and adaptive!

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