Workout Routines

The 25-rep workout routine

There is a "magic number" of reps for gaining muscle and strength—and this is it.

by
Dip
Thomas Barwick / Getty
Thomas Barwick / Getty
Duration 45
Exercises 11
Equipment Yes

If you’ve been lifting for a while, you’ve probably learned that there’s no perfect number of sets and reps that works for everyone. Or is there?

Some of the most effective muscle- and strength-building programs share a common trait—the total number of reps for the main exercises usually add up to around 25. Shoot for that number over the next four weeks and your gains will add up fast, too.

Enter the 25-rep workout.

How it works:

On your main lifts, keep the reps low and do enough sets to reach roughly 25 total reps. Usually, this provides the right combination of volume and intensity without any wasted effort. We’ll show you how to vary the sets and reps each week.

Directions:

Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, and 3) once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

For the exercises with prescribed reps:

Complete the exercises as straight sets, finishing all the sets for one move before moving on to the next. The first several prescribed sets should be done as part of your warmup. Gradually increase the weight and perform the reps with explosive speed. On your last two sets, use very challenging loads (so that you can get the prescribed number of reps but no more). Don’t go to failure or miss a rep.

Week 1: As shown.

Week 2: 6 sets of 4 reps.

Week 3: 5 sets of 8, 6, 6, 3, and 3 reps. On the power clean, do 6 sets of 6, 6, 5, 3, 3, and 3 reps.

Week 4: 3 sets of 8 reps. On the power clean, do 4 sets of 6 reps. Use 20%-25% less weight on all your exercises this week than you used on your heaviest sets last week.

For the exercises that don’t have prescribed reps (situps, dips, pullups):

Choose a weight with which you can do 10 to 12 reps in your first set. (If that's too much, just do bodyweight reps). Rest no more than one minute, then begin the next set. Rest and then do your third set. Now add up the total number of reps you’ve done and note the time needed. Set a goal for next week to complete more reps in the same time or do the same number of reps in less time.

Week 3: Do 60 reps.

Week 4: Do 40 reps.

The 25-rep workout routine: Day 1 Day 1: Legs and abs

Exercise 1.

Squat You'll need: Squat Rack How to
Squat thumbnail
5 sets
5 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Walking Lunge You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Walking Lunge  thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 3.

Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Romanian Deadlift thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 4.

Weighted Situp You'll need: Weight Plates How to
Weighted Situp  thumbnail
-- sets
50, broken up as needed reps
No more than 1 min. rest

The 25-rep workout routine Day 2: Chest, shoulders, and arms

Exercise 1.

Barbell Overhead Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Overhead Press thumbnail
5 sets
5 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
5 sets
5 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 3.

Dip You'll need: Dip Station How to
Dips thumbnail
-- sets
50, broken up as needed reps
No more than 1 min. rest

Exercise 4.

Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Exercise: How to do an Eccentric Pullup thumbnail
-- sets
50, broken up as needed reps
No more than 1 min. rest

The 25-rep workout routine Day 3: Back power-up

Exercise 1.

Power Clean You'll need: Barbell How to
Power Clean thumbnail
5 sets
5 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Bentover Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Bent Over Row  thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
1 min. rest

Exercise 3.

Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Shrug thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
1 min. rest
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