*a lot*of people here lately who seem to pick their number of sets and reps arbitrarily or based on common rep ranges. I have to admit that I used to do this when I was new, so I thought I’d make a thread pulling from an article about how to properly choose the number of sets and reps for your workouts.First, all of the following is based on

**Prilepin’s Table**. Learn it, use it, love it:

Intensities are percentages of your 1 rep max.

**How to interpret this chart:**

The *“Intensity”* is the percentage of the 1 rep maximum that you’re using for a given lift. Keep in mind that your 5RM is about 90% of your 1RM and your 8RM is about 80% of your 1RM.

The *“Reps/set”* column is telling you the optimal rep range for every set you do at a given intensity. So if you’re lifting at 80% of your 1RM, you should use between 2 and 4 reps for every set.

The *“Optimal total”* column lists the optimal number of total reps in a single workout at a given intensity. Continuing with our example of a lifter using 80% of his 1RM, the optimal number of reps the lifter could perform for this exercise during one workout would be 15.

The *“Total range”* column lists the minimum and maximum number of total reps a lifter should perform at a given intensity. So our lifter using 80% should perform at least 10 reps and at most 20 reps. Any less would be too easy and any more would be too taxing.

**Using Prilepin’s table to design set/rep schemes:**

This information gives a lifter a lot of possibilities to design set and rep schemes for a workout. Let’s say we have a lifter squatting at 80% of his 1RM. These are the best options for set/rep schemes according to Prilepin’s table:

5×3

4×4

8×2

6×3

9×2

There are many more possibilities, but they stray away from the optimal total number of reps, which is 15.

**More advanced discussion:**

Prilepin’s table fails a bit because it doesn’t distinguish between intensities within a certain range. It is obviously tougher to lift at 85% of your 1RM than it is to lift at 80%, but Prilepin’s table makes no distinction between these weights.

The table also doesn’t help when a lifter wants to use different intensities in one workout. If a lifter wants to do a set at 75% and another 3 sets at 85%, the table doesn’t offer a solution to the ideal number of sets/reps.

This is where we make some adjustments:

*adjusted number of lifts = (number of lifts at a given intensity) / (100 – intensity)*

Adjusted number of lifts gives you an idea of the difficulty of a single set. So, using the previous example of a person squatting 5×3 @ 80% of their 1RM:

The total number of lifts is 15. The intensity is 80%. So the adjusted number of lifts is:

15 / (100-80) = 0.75

If the lifter were to do 1 set of 5 at 75% and 3 sets of 4 at 80%, the adjusted number of lifts would be:

1×5 / (100-75) + 3×4 / (100-80) = 5/25 + 12/20 = 0.8

Using this scheme, the 2nd workout is slightly more difficult.

Guidelines for adjusted number of lifts:

For each week of training, it’s best to keep the adjusted number of lifts between 2 and 4. Doing less than 2 may work for those who are deloading. Doing more than 4 is extremely difficult. Adjusted numbers of lifts between 3 and 4 are taxing and might not be sustainable over months.

For each individual workout, try to keep the adjusted number of lifts between 0.4 and 2 for any single exercise.

Source here.