Weights vs. Reps (and Lean vs. Bulky)

           If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been thinking about making some lifestyle changes to your health and fitness routine. And part of your thought process has likely included what your particular goals are (i.e. weight loss, muscle gain, endurance training, muscle toning, etc.). There are numerous possible goals that you may be setting for yourself, but what’s important to understand is this:

            Although some of the same exercises can be used for progress toward multiple      
                different goals, the specifics associated with those exercises should vary.


            So what does this mean? It’s very common for people to assume that weight lifting leads to bulky muscle development because it is closely associated with bodybuilding. However, the variables of the exercise—weight, repetitions, and sets—will drastically affect the end result.

            Weight and repetitions generally work as an inverse ratio: high weight/low reps; or low weight/high reps. Sets work as an inverse ratio with repetitions, too. Here are just a few examples of the ways in which you can structure your workouts depending on your personal fitness goals:








Weight loss


12 – 20

1 – 3

0 – 90 seconds

Muscle gain (hypertrophy)


6 – 12

3 – 5

0 – 60 seconds

Endurance training


8 – 12

2 – 4

0 – 60 seconds

Strength gain (w/o bulking up)


1 – 5

4 – 6

3 – 5 minutes


            And it’s also important to understand that ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ are relative terms. What feels heavy for one person might feel incredibly light for another. So as you’re picking a weight for your workout, make sure that you pick a weight that is appropriately challenging for you (relative to how many repetitions and sets you need to perform). It may take a few trials to truly find out the right weight for you. But once you do, periodically adjust the weight and repetitions in order to continue forward on your fitness journey.

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  1. Posted by Bablofil

    Thanks, great article.