Weights, Repetitions, Sets and Muscle Fatigue Explained!


I get a lot of questions like – what weight should I use, how many repetitions of each exercise should I be doing, and how many sets should I incorporate?

These are great questions because they are our framework for a fantastic and productive workout…  The kind of workout that will…  over time… give us amazing results.

Now, the first thing I want to tell you, is there is NO ONE PERFECT answer for everyone.  So what I am going to dive into is how to know where to start, how to progress and how to know that you’re on the right track!

Let’s start out with MUSCLE FATIGUE.

I want to begin here because everything I talk about after this, relates back to this!

Your overall goal of each exercise you complete should be getting as close to muscle fatigue as possible while maintaining good form.

Muscle fatigue can be uncomfortable when you first begin, and that’s ok- it’s a practiced skill that takes time and body perception!

The key is to learn good form first, then your goal becomes to do what it takes to get that muscle to a point where it can no longer safely perform the exercise.

Remember, our minds fail before our body –we perceive the uncomfortableness to be bad, but we have to learn how to push through that to get to muscle exhaustion!

I want you to know you will continually get better at pushing yourself over time as you begin to trust your form and your overall awareness!

Ok, so now we know muscle fatigue is your overall goal for every exercise.

Now… Let’s talk about what WEIGHT you should be using. 

This is VASTLY going to vary from person to person.  Strength is relative to the person performing the exercise, things like – have you done the exercise before, are you a beginner or advanced, what do you have access to?  BUT…  Here’s my guidelines…

First, have different weights available– as many as possible – because what you’ll use for a shoulder raise will differ greatly from a leg exercise like a goblet squat.  When just starting out, having 5’s, 10’s and 15’s is a great place to start.

It gives you the opportunity to move up in weight over time and is enough variance to hit all the body parts effectively.

Also, for the home program – having varying thicknesses of your exercise bands is important for the same reasons.

And again, the goal is muscle fatigue- so as long as you exhaust the muscle, don’t get overly caught up in what weight you’re using when starting out!

This leads me into the next topic which is REPETITION RANGES. 

How many repetitions should you be doing?

There are a few factors that go into this.  And that’s why I hesitate to give you specific rep ranges like 15 reps on everything.  WHY???  Because it may take you 20 reps to get to muscle fatigue.  And WHAT’S THE TRUE GOAL OF EVERYTHING WE DOmuscle fatigue!!!  Leaving those last 5 reps on the table means you’re missing out on the overall goal!

I want to give you the best 2 targets to always keep in mind…

Number ONE, get to muscle fatigue between 12-20 reps.

And Number TWO, it should take you between 1 ½ – 3 Minutes to get to muscle fatigue.

12-20 is your sweet spot!  If you can only do 8-10 reps before muscle failure, then you know it was a little too heavy and next time drop the weight.

If you are doing 20-30+ reps with no problem and not even close to muscle failure – then you have to go up in weight next time.

From there, you will get better at perfecting your form, knowing what it is supposed to feel like, and get more comfortable with your stability which will help you push to fatigue within that sweet spot!

Personally, I am always striving to hit muscle fatigue around 12-15 reps or 1:30.  I also keep track of the reps & weights I am using so I know exactly when it’s time to go up!

As a side note, time under tension is important when talking about reps and time.  In my explanation videos, you’ll learn the correct range of motion for each exercise- and it’s important to keep tension on the muscle the entire set- so try for no breaks, no resting, no locking out your joints for the entire duration of the set and through each rep – that’s what will get you to muscle fatigue!

Time to talk about SETS. 

So how many sets should you do?

Let’s break it down.  If you’re a beginner, you are perfectly fine starting with 1 set per exercise.

Again, the overall goal is to make the muscles tired, so no matter how many sets you perform- this has to be your #1 priority! 

Let your body slowly work into the exercises, as it’s important not to overdo it at the beginning.

Long term consistency is KEY so jumping into something and doing too much too soon will be counterproductive.

After a few weeks or months, you may feel ready to add another set to your exercises.  But – I want you to remember…  If you are hitting muscle fatigue on every exercise you will see progress with 1 set each.

This is important, adding sets isn’t what will give you results faster.

It is ALWAYS QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.  1 amazing set of 15 reps to muscle exhaustion will ALWAYS be better than 3 sets of sloppy or careless repetitions.


For those of you who are intermediate or advanced and have really mastered muscle failure- you can be incorporating 2-3 sets.  Again, quality sets and reps.  Take short breaks between sets – and your goal is always the same, muscle failure at the end of your set.  Keep in mind, as you add sets to your workout, you may need to drop the weight each time.  And that’s ok.  Keep within your 15-20 rep range and push yourself!

Remember, more DOES NOT always equal better.  Think about that- MORE DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL BETTER!

I have been working out with heavy weights for over 16 years and my #1 goal is always muscle fatigue.  My workouts include following my advanced program of 12 exercises 3 times a week and I aim for 2 hard sets with minimal rest and hitting muscle fatigue on each!

So quick recap…

  • Muscle fatigue is our #1 priority…
  • 15- 20 repetitions per exercise is our sweet spot!
  • The other method of tracking is 1 ½ – 3 minutes of constant time under tension!
  • And we start out with 1 SOLID set each and work your way up from there when you’re ready!