Slow-twitch fibers are geared more towards endurance and thrive in sustained, low-intensity activity. Fast-twitch fibers are used for explosive, high-intensity movements but fatigue quickly.

If strength and power is your aim, Veal recommends one to five repetitions per set at a higher intensity (around 85-100 per cent of one-rep max). If you’re trying to build size, up it to 8-12 repetitions per set at a moderate intensity (around 65-85 per cent of one-rep max). To stimulate those slow-twitch fibres and build resistance, aim for 13-20 repetitions per set at a lower intensity (around 50-65 per cent of one-rep max).

Vary reps depending on the workout

Not all workouts are created equal, so why are you still doing four sets of ten for every single exercise?

“In the case of workouts designed to enhance muscular endurance, like pushups or squats, I would recommend 15 reps max,” says Tomi Akande, PT at UNTIL.

Sure, you might be able to do more than 15 push-ups, but Akande says that going too far combined with inadequate recovery can lead to microtraumas in the muscles, and even hormonal imbalances that can mess up your cortisol levels, impacting muscle growth and overall health.

As a rule of thumb: focus on form and quality over quantity.

Start low to build functional strength

Following on from the last point, specialist equipment, like the TRX rig, may require an even more considered approach to reps, as Joanna Dase, a fitness coach at Curves, explains.

“If you’re new to TRX, it’s important to start with 8-12 reps per set to build foundational strength. Focus on practicing your form and achieving a full range of motion, even if it means you can’t perform as many reps.”

If you’re bored with that, upping to 12 to 15 reps will help tone your muscles, as well as enhancing your stability. For the advanced TRX practitioner, Dase recommends 15-20 reps per set, incorporating more challenging variations of the exercises while maintaining form.

Of course, the TRX rig may not be for you, but you can apply these same principles to some of the more-fun gear in your gym, like battle ropes, sandbags, bosu balls and plyometric boxes. The crucial thing is to experiment and not to run before you can walk, especially on new equipment.

Lower reps for a PB

If you’re working towards upping your one rep max, it makes sense to do fewer, heavier reps. For Kieran Sheridan, co-founder and physiotherapist at Gulf Physio, “Three to six reps per set is ideal. If you’re lifting close to maximum weight with each set, it will result in improved strength development.”

“For maximum strength, we look at 1-6 reps,” adds Ollie Weguelin, director of Sustain Performance. “For heavy weights, you’ll be working at a higher intensity and lower rep range. This is ideal for deadlifts, squats, bench presses and Olympic lifting.”

On the other hand, Sheridan says that beginners just looking to tone up might aim for a maximum of 20 reps per set. “If you can implement above 20 reps, there is a chance that you are practicing with light or easy weights, which will not help you improve or grow,” he warns.

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