Weights, reps, sets and training volume

This week is a quick blog post focusing on the reps, volume and form with weight lifting and how I program a variety into my client’s plans to meet their goals.

Weights, reps, sets and training volume
Weights, reps, sets and training volume

Here’s the basics:

  • Weight/load - it’s the physical kg/lbs that you lift/push/pull. Let’s say 20kg barbell.

  • Reps - this stands for repetitions of a movement. If you lift the 20kg barbell 10 times, then that’s 10 reps.

  • Sets - this is how many times you may lift the reps programmed. Each set may have a mix of reps (called a ladder), which may go 8,10,12. That’s 3 sets of varying reps.

  • Volume is now the rep total you’ll do through the sets.

The above example would be a 20kg with a total of 20 reps = volume equals a training volume of 400. If you did 100kg power clean, but just for 4 reps (1 rep per set), you’ll still do a training volume of 400, just a lot less reps.

I’ll strip back a client’s weight/load but increase the reps and sets. So they may lift the same training volume, but approach it in a different way. Why? They may be able to back squat 100kg, but if they want to rest their muscles for a comp where they may want to PB or want to iron out weaknesses in their form, I’ll set them to do a high sets and reps vs a high weight load. Their muscles still get the workout, they still get a calorie burn, but we’ll be working on volume and form vs weight.


So if you’re a client and you see me set a low weight, with a high rep and sets, trust the process, and remember your training volume may still be 100kg, but instead of a 1 rep max, it’s a high training volume or reps and sets at a lower weight. Likewise, if you see me doing a lower weight, then I maybe working on a different aspect of my training, rather than chasing a max lift or 3 rep max.


For online programming or one-to-one PT coaching get in touch with me, Chris Lowden on...

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