mind pump strength training

1612: Everything You Need to Know About Sets, Reps & Rest Periods | Mind Pump

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re not seeing progress, the best program is the one you’re not doing! Example: if you usually train low weights and high reps, start training with heavy weights and fewer reps
  • A guaranteed way to break through training plateau: Don’t change your routine – just manipulate reps and rest period
  • For any program, stay consistent for 3-6 weeks then manipulate sets, reps, tempo, rest to trigger new adaptation
  • Train each body part 9-18 sets per week and keep sets between 1-30 reps depending on the goal
  • Don’t shortchange rest periods! Rest is as important as reps and sets


Mind Pump consists of Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam), and Justin Andrews (IG: @mindpumpjustin)

In this episode of Mind Pump, the guys review everything you need to know about sets, reps, tempo, rest periods, and programming.

Exercise Versus Training

  • Programming is what will make or break your progress
  • A lot of programs are just a bunch of exercises and aren’t designed for a specific outcome like training
  • Training programs are designed to build strength, make you faster, lose body fat, etc.
  • Exercise programs designed for the general population are just exercises to get you moving and people will see results short term because some movement is always better than no movement at all

What Is A Set?

  • Set: a specified period of time you’re doing an exercise
  • Defining sets helps you define reps, rounds, volume
  • Multiple sets will lead to greater improvement compared to a single set
  • Sweet spot: 9-18 sets per body part, per week
  • There’s an upper limit of what you can tolerate – and a sweet spot of what will give you the best results – maybe you can do 18 sets but 14 will give you great results
  • The goal is the do as few sets as you can get away with to elicit results
  • The fitness level and genetic potential of an individual plays a role in the number of sets needed
  • Two approaches to try: (1) fewer sets with more exercises (2) more sets with fewer exercises
  • It’s important to practice lifts and improve movements  
  • Stay consistent with set range for 3-4 weeks, assess progress, then try another route

Supersets & Drop Sets

  • Superset: two exercises together with no rest
  • Supersets can be the same body part or opposing body part
  • Good for pump, stamina, endurance
  • Supersets work particularly well when cutting calories and will use lighter weights
  • Drop set: finish a set at a particular weight then drop weight and hit the next set with no rest


  • Rep: one full completion of an exercise
  • Reps get the muscle to move with resistance and send muscle-building stimulus
  • For strength building, stay between 1-30 reps – anything higher becomes more cardio like
  • Working with higher reps elicits a different response from the body than lower reps
  • Higher reps: weight is lighter, controlling breathing, squeezing at the top,
  • Lower reps: weight is much heavier, bracing, holding breath, driving with CNS
  • All rep ranges build muscle and burn calories
  • Vary rep ranges every 3-4 weeks to keep body adapting and changing  
  • You’re better off avoiding forced reps, partial reps, working to failure – all of which will ultimately slow progress


  • Your body gets used to working at a certain tempo but it’s important to manipulate
  • Tempo plays a huge factor with reps: when lifting heavy it’s faster, move explosive tempo; when going for a pump it’s slower, more controlled
  • How to read tempo lingo – example, 421: 4 is the eccentric/negative portion of the exercise, 2 is the isometric hold at the bottom, 1 is the positive or coming up from the exercise
  • Each variable of tempo can be manipulated depending on your goal
  • Get the mechanics of the movement then alter the tempo and have fun with it
  • Adjust the weights according to the tempo you are working with
  • Tip: if you have a hard time connecting with a muscle (e.g., don’t feel glute sin squats), spend more time in the isometric portion

Rest Periods

  • “You’re not resting because you have to, you’re resting because the rest is as important as the reps and the sets.” – Sal
  • Without rest, the body uses energy that encourages endurance and stamina instead of muscle and you’re basically doing cardio with weights
  • Resting allows the body to replenish energy – the body needs to go through a specific energy change
  • Rest should be 30 seconds – 3 minutes depending on the goal
  • Same rules apply: change up lengths of rest periods
  • Active rest: stretch between sets if you absolutely can’t sit still
  • A guaranteed way to break through training plateau – Don’t change your routine – just manipulate reps and rest period
MInd Pump : , , , , , , ,
Notes By Maryann

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 35,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks