What are sets and reps?
Let’s first define the two key words. A repetition (also known as rep) is an individual exercise performed one time. A set is a grouping of the same exercise performed consecutively. An example of sets and reps is performing three sets of twelve bicep curls (or reps). This means that twelve bicep curls were performed, and after a rest twelve more bicep curls were performed, and this was repeated for a third time.
How do you determine the number of sets and repetitions of exercises to perform?
For strength training, exercises should be performed with a heavy weight in reps of 8-10 for 2-3 sets. In order to tone muscles, but not gain muscular bulk, one would perform more reps at a lighter weight such as 12-15 reps for 2-3 sets. Weights should not be so heavy to affect performance (or form) but should be difficult (or fatiguing) when finishing up the final reps of each set.
How can I minimize soreness when I first start a routine?
We recommend choosing 2-3 upper body/back exercises and 2-3 lower body exercises; start with low weight and do 2-3 sets of 20 reps (higher reps mean starting with a lower weight) twice/week with minimum one day rest in between. This will allow for less post exercise soreness. After 3-4 weeks, you can start going down in reps and up in weight.
What should I use to increase strength; free weights/bands or machines?
The answer is you can use either! Both will provide resistance which will increase muscular strength. Our best recommendation is to go with what best suits your personal preference and what is readily available. Most importantly, perform all exercises with proper form.