Fitness Myth 2 – 3 sets of 10 reps is the best for building muscle

As far as I can gather this idea of 3 sets of 10 goes back to the 40’s when it was published by Mr Thomas Delorme in the archives of physical medicine.  He found that 3 sets of 10 was as effective at building muscle as 10 sets of 10 (which we now refer to as GVT (German Volume Training)).  Since then, however there have been quite literally 1000’s of other articles claiming that there are other combinations of sets and reps that are more effective than 3 sets of 10, so why has it stuck for so long?  NOT A CLUE!!  I cannot find any plausible reason as to why this theory has been so etched into the psyche of people in the fitness industry, so I’m gonna give you my own reason.  People who train aren’t always the brightest (I’m including myself in that so don’t get offended) and with all the available blood rushing to the muscles being worked and away from the brain counting to more than 10 is sometimes a stretch.  As for the 3 sets it’s simple – 2 is really easy, and after 3 it starts to get boring so you need to move on.

Now I’ve told you that this is a myth what do I recommend?  Well that isn’t an easy questions to answer.  As a general and very basic rule of thumb you should be looking at 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps if you are looking to build size.  I say this is a basic rule but this depends on how many different exercises you are doing, are you super setting, have the smaller muscles been used doing the compound lifts and so on.  All I will say is mix it up a little bit.  Your body is inherently lazy!  If you always do the same number of reps it will find the easiest way of completing it, and your gains will quickly diminish.


More more info get in touch or check out


I am a personal trainer and sports scientist working in Manchester. After graduating from the University of Salford with an Applied Sports Science degree, i was employed by the University to work with their professional sporting partners. As part of this I spent 6 years working with the first team at Salford City Reds as a strength and conditioning coach. I was also used as a consultant sports scientist by the University for teams including Manchester City, Lancashire Cricket Club, Sale Sharks and England Lacrosse. Since leaving my position at the University I have been working as a freelance sports scientist and personal trainer in and around the Manchester Area.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized
4 comments on “Fitness Myth 2 – 3 sets of 10 reps is the best for building muscle
  1. wcman1976 says:

    Good blog! Depending on what kind of fitness you are going for, I recommend reading THE ART OF EXPRESSING THE HUMAN BODY, which is all about Bruce Lee’s training methods. While not everyone wants to look like Bruce, you’ve got to admit he was doing SOMETHING right to get that physique.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: