Interested in trying out a strength training workout, but aren’t sure how many reps and sets to do, based on your fitness goals?! This post will give you all the basics when it comes to strength training workouts and how to structure a workout so it helps you meet your fitness goals!


Happy Monday!

Did everyone have a good weekend?! I hope so. I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Make sure to stay tuned til the end of the post, I have a fun little announcement you are going to want to hear!!! Hint, hint – it involves a super fun partnership in 2016!

First up, we are talking strength training! Back when I was working toward my personal training certification, I had NO IDEA how to structure a strength training workout. I was riding the cardio train and following my Nike Training Club App. I didn’t have any time to lift heavy things.

Then the now Hubs challenged me to try lifting heavy for a few months, after I was certified, just before we visited our friends in San Francisco. The first few workouts were a bit rough, but once I started getting the hang of how to structure things and saw results from those workouts, I couldn’t get enough of my strength training workouts.

[bctt tweet=”3 Ways to Structure YOUR Next Strength Training Workout #strengthtrain #liftheavy #sweatpink”]

If you’ve been a reader for any length of time, you know I am PRO ladies not being afraid to lift heavy things. A strength training workout will not only make you stronger and your body look amazing, but it will give you this amazing sense of confidence that not many other things can give, except for maybe a smoking outfit…that you will look even better in if you lift heavy. Amiright?

Okay, Jen, we hear you – lift heavy. Do a strength training workout. Here’s the thing, we don’t know how many reps and sets and weight to do, based on our fitness goals.

Girl, I’m so glad you brought that up. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what I am about to discuss. Plus, because I want you to always remember, I’m giving you a little infographic that is perfect for pinning on Pinterest (<– are you following me yet?!), that took a litttttle too long to create for how simple it looks!!


3 WAYS TO STRUCTURE YOUR NEXT STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUT | Burpees for Breakfast^^ The many phase of my body when lifting for different goals.

Note, acute variables, or the components that specify how each exercise will be performed in a training program, will change for each type of training or structure.

TRAIN FOR MUSCULAR ENDURANCE: This is the type of workouts I tend to do in my classes. It usually is characterized by the use of lighter weight, with increased reps. We just got a few sets of 10# weights in the studio. Needless to say, it’s going to reallllly tough to increase muscle size (see next option) with only using 10# weights.

When training for endurance, you will improve your overall work capacity, enhance joint stabilization and increase stabilization and endurance.

Acute variables for muscular endurance include:

  • REPS: 12 – 20
  • SETS: 1 -3
  • INTENSITY: 50 – 70% of max
  • TEMPO: 4 / 2 / 1 (bicep curl: up for 4 count, hold 2 count, and down 1 count)
  • REST: 0 – 90 sec between sets
  • EXTRA: Superset workouts work well with this option. Supersets are characterized by two exercises begin perform in rapid succession, with little to no rest. This can be done with opposing muscle groups (chest + back) or the same muscle group (push-ups + dumbbell chest press).

EXAMPLES: BodyWorks + Abs Sneak Peak, Bootcamp Burner, Barbell Complex,

TRAIN FOR MUSCULAR HYPERTROPHY: Often the most common way to train and my personal favorite for most moves. When training for hypertrophy, the goal is an increase in muscle size. Your load will be heavier and your rep range will decrease.

Acute variables for muscular hypertrophy include:

  • REPS: 6 – 12 (I usually go 8)
  • SETS: 3 – 5
  • INTENSITY: 75 – 85 % of max
  • TEMPO: 2 / 0 / 2 (bicep curl: up for 2 count, no hold, and down 2 count)
  • REST: 0 – 60 sec between sets

EXAMPLES: Full Body Strength Workout, Back Attack Burner, Bottoms Up Booty Workout

TRAIN FOR MUSCULAR STRENGTH: Training for strength is my second favorite way to train. This type of training increases the rate of force production (the muscles ability to exert max force in a minimal amount of time) and recruits more motor units. You’ll be lifting a much heavier load, with a small amount of reps, with increased rest periods.

Acute variables for muscular strength include:

  • REPS: 1 – 5
  • SETS: 4 – 6
  • INTENSITY: 85 – 100% of max
  • TEMPO: Fast/explosive (heavy deadlift)
  • REST: 3 – 5 minutes between sets

EXAMPLES: Heavy Deadlift – 5 Reps x 5 Sets; Heavy Squat: 3 Reps x 5 Sets



Well, if you want to increase muscle size or ‘look toned’, you will likely want to work in the hypertrophy phase, dropping back into the endurance phase for a week or 2, about 6-8 weeks into your program. If you are new to working out, hanging out in the endurance phase is a great place to start. It will get you more familiar with working out and lifting heavier -ish things. Want to get strong, go for the strength phase. MAKE SURE YOUR FORM IS SOLID because you will be lifting a heavier load.

[bctt tweet=”Training for endurance, strength or hypertrophy? Find out the basics #ontheblog! #fitfluential”]

It’s important to switch things up every few weeks, not only to give your body a break but a challenge. Doing the same thing over and over and over, especially at the same weight, will not help you see the gainz you are looking for, whether it be increased size or endurance. After a while, your body will adapt to the weight, so continuing to use the 2.5# weights in my class will not really help you at all…cough, cough, ladies in my class.


  1. Form is everything. You can be lifting heavy but have improper form, which will not allow you to get maximum benefit of the move. I saw some incredibly poor form at the gym last week for a romanian deadlift, but a trainer. It was more likely that the trainer AND the client would get an injury from the way the move was performed, than a receive any benefit.
  2. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. Ladies, I know – you don’t want to look bulky. I also know that bulky means different things to different people. For some, I might look bulky. Here is the thing, it will take ALOT of work and being INCREDIBLY strict for a female to look uber bulky, ie, like a body builder. Every BODY is different and it’s likely yours will respond a bit differently to lifting heavy things than mine. Don’t let a fear of getting bulky prevent you from lifting heavy things, transforming your body and gaining an amazing sense of confidence. Don’t, don’t, don’t!!

Now, I am SO STINKING pumped to announce that I’m partnering with the AMAZING Jill Conyers for a brand new series starting in January 2016. Mark your calendars because the kick off date is January 4, 2016. Be sure to check BOTH of our blogs each Monday until that date for even more details on this awesome partnership.

We aren’t revealing the name or details just yet, but the hashtag will be….


Any guesses??

[bctt tweet=”New partnership teaser announcement with @jillconyers. Any guess on the details? #ITBF #sweatpink”]

Tell me about your weekend!
Have you done a strength training workout before?
If so, what is your favorite way to structure your workouts?