How many reps you should do is one of the most important things about getting a six pack. Even more than how many sets to do of each exercise and how many exercises to do in each workout, it can have a lot to do with not getting the results you want.
The basics of weight training state that less than 6 reps per set is for strength building, 8 – 12 reps per set is for building muscle mass, and anything over 12 reps is for muscle endurance and definition. So how many reps you need to do to get a six pack depends at what stage you are at right now and what else you’re doing.
For example, if you’ve just started exercising you’ll probably need to get your body fat percentage down before you start worrying about sculpting your six pack to perfection. But you can do both by keeping how many reps you do in the endurance / definition zone, which is 15 – 20 per set.
If, however, you already have low body fat and a defined six pack but want more of it, you need to be increasing the size of the muscle. This is done in the muscle building zone which is 8 – 10 reps per set.
Finally there is the intermediate to advanced level. This is either someone who has a good body fat percentage and a six pack that looks good, but he’s hit a plateau and wants to get to the next level. Or it’s someone who has pretty much got the results he wants but is bored with doing the same workout all the time and wants to test himself and his body. How many reps this involves can vary with each set, each exercise, each day, or even each week.
This doesn’t mean that you do however many reps you intended and then just stop. Like any other muscle, to get a sick pack you need to be working failure. In other words if your goal is 10 reps this should be as many as you can do. If more are possible you need to increase the difficulty of the exercise so that 10 is the maximum, if you can’t get to 8 then the difficulty needs to be decreased.
How Many Reps A Week?
How many reps you do a week obviously depends on whether you’re working on size or definition, but either way you only need to train your six pack 2 or 3 times a week. For muscle building the total would be about 360, which comes from doing 10 reps of 4 sets for each of 3 exercises. For definition the total could be anything up to around 700 or more, which is 20 reps of 4 sets for each of 3 exercises. Sometimes you can exceed the 20 rep max to train definition, but as this requires very low difficulty it doesn’t work your six pack sufficiently for it to be a regular thing.
Now you know how many reps to be doing, and how many sets, but how long should you rest between each one?
Like most people I never used to have any idea that how long I rested between sets had any effect on my results. I knew I needed time to recover, but this varied depending on how much of a rush I was in or how interesting the conversation was with my training partner.
Now I know better.
Strength training, muscle building and training for definition all involve different energy systems, which is why the amount of rest you need varies with each. So when training for muscle building the rest period should be 2 minutes, and when training for definition it’s 30 seconds to a maximum of 1 minutes. If, for whatever reason, you do any strength training the rest period is a minimum of 3 minutes, though ideally it’s more like 5. If you’re doing various reps then things could obviously get complicated. To keep it simple choose before you start whether it’s going to be 2 minutes or a maximum of 1 minute, and vary this each time you do your mixed rep workout or alternate it every other week.
Keep A Record
No matter how many reps you’re doing, unless you repeat the same workout in the same order every time, you’re going to need to keep a record of what resistance you used. This allows you to not only to monitor your progress if your mission to get a six pack doesn’t seem to be getting any closer, it also means that you are less likely to find yourself doing more or less reps than you intended. This is especially important if you begin to vary how many reps you do with each set.
Wherever you are now, there’s nothing to lose by trying something different, whether it’s changing how many reps you do or how long you rest between each set.
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