How Many Sets for Maximum Muscle Growth?

Hypertrophy, Effective Reps, and Training to Failure

Want to build pure size? How many sets should you do per week? Here’s what you need to know.

If your goal is hypertrophy, how many sets should you be doing per week? Watch the quick video or check out the key points below.

The Bullet Points

  • The answer? It depends.
  • The most important element is this: How much effort are you putting into your sets? Are you taking your sets to failure? Then you don’t need to do as many sets compared to stopping several reps short of failure.
  • Going to failure (or very close to it) creates more neurological fatigue and muscle damage, requiring more recovery. Too much muscle damage can actually limit muscle growth. Creating more fatigue means you can’t do as many effects sets.
  • It’s true: The closer you get to failure, the more effective your set is. You need fewer sets to accomplish your goal.
  • The amount of volume you should do depends on how much effort you put into your sets.
  • Most people stop their sets 3-4 reps short of failure, but they don’t realize it. Even when leaving one rep in reserve, the movement should significantly slow down.
  • Effective reps: Regardless of the number of reps you’re doing in a set, the last 5 will be the effective reps – the reps that impact muscle growth.
  • If you stop well short of failure, you need more sets to get the same amount of effective reps.
  • A common “zone” to shoot for would be 10-20 sets per muscle per week. The closer to failure you get on your sets, the more you should lean into the 10-sets zone. The further away from failure you go, the closer you should be to 20 sets per muscle per week.

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