Exercise Library

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Reps is short for repetitions. Repetitions defines the number of times to perform an exercise. For example, you do 12 squats, then stop. The 12 squats you perform are considered 12 repetitions. If you curl the dumbbell 15 times, then you have completed 15 repetitions of biceps curls. Some trainers will test your fitness level by giving you a certain amount of time, say 60 seconds, to see how many repetitions you can perform within that allotted time frame.


Sets refers to how many times you will repeat that exercise for the set number of repetitions. For example, you do 12 squats and rest. Then you do another 12 squats, rest, and then another 12. You have now completed three sets of 12 reps. If you do three sets of 15 reps of biceps curls, you will perform 15 repetitions, rest, 15 repetitions, rest, and finish with 15 repetitions. Sometimes the word reps is left out, and trainers will just tell you to complete three sets of 15.

Rest Periods

Rest Periods determine optimal time needed for your central nervous system to recover for output that will be required during each set.Typically, using heavy weight over low reps, sets with higher rep ranges and sets in which you are focusing on explosiveness will require a much higher output from the CNS and will require an extended amount of recovery time somewhere around the 2- to 3-minute mark.

Alternatively, “bodybuilding” sets, using a moderate amount of weight for 8 to 12 reps, are not as CNS-intensive, so a rest of 30 seconds to 1 minute can be used.



(1) The first number (3) is the eccentric, or lowering, component of the lift.
(2) The second number (0) denotes any pause at the midpoint.
(3) The third number (1) is the concentric, or lifting, component.
(4) Finally, the fourth number (0) denotes any pause at the top.

A tempo makes perfect sense on lifts that start with an eccentric, or lowering phase, like a squat or bench press. You lower the bar for 3 seconds, there’s no pause at the midpoint, and then you return to the starting position. Reset and go again.