20 Numbers Every Weightlifter Should Know

Our daily lives are cluttered with numerals—speed limits, bank codes, gas prices, birthdays, parole numbers, etc. But for people who exercise regularly, numbers are of particular importance. From how much protein you take in per day to the amount of sets and reps you perform to the timing of your pre- and post-workout meals, the details are crucial to developing the body you want.

And since we know your lives are busy with school, work, and evading police barricades, we get how easily things can slip through the cracks. That’s why we’re offering this refresher, featuring a handful of important numbers every weightlifter should know.



A half-minute’s rest between sets has been shown to increase caloric burn by 50 percent compared to, say, a three-minute rest period.


If adding size is your goal, aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Excellent lean animal protein sources include chicken, eggs, fish, and beef. Quick-digesting whey protein shakes are convenient and effective both pre- and post-workout; casein protein, which digests slower, is recommended post-workout and before bed.


Performing two different exercises back to back without rest is a superset.


Make it back-to-back-to-back exercises without rest and it’s now a triset.


Giant sets are back-to-back-to-back-to-back exercises executed without rest.



Consuming five-to-six small, healthy meals per day can keep your metabolism churning and encourage fat loss. The constant influx of protein and nutrients will ensure your muscles will have enough nutritional content to recharge, repair, and regrow.


A good night’s sleep consisting of seven (or, if possible, eight or nine) hours enables your muscles adequate time to rest and recover. Proper sleep can also improve that cranky mood your co-workers incessantly complain about.


The 8-12 rep range can support mass gains. Drop it 3-6 reps to build strength, and aim for 12 and higher to improve muscle endurance. However, varying your repetitions, weights, and rest periods is the best way to keep your muscles guessing and growing, which will also help you avoid plateaus. Alternatively, 9 is significant for a separate reason; a 2012 study published in the Journal of Labor Research found that workers who exercise regularly earned nine percent higher pay than layabouts who didn’t.


There’s nothing particularly exciting about this number. We’re just checking to see if you’re still on board.


How much you’ll need to shell out for 12 issues of Muscle & Fitness magazine. That’s 76% off the cover price. The bad news? The dumbbell-shaped telephone is no longer offered for new subscribers.

‘Tis the Season for Muscle Gains


On training days, consume 20-22 calories per pound of body weight when your goal is to beef up. On non-training days, cut your intake to about 18 calories per lb. of body weight. If you don’t consume enough clean foods and calories, you won’t experience gains.


The standard EZ bar weighs 25 pounds.


Minutes both pre- and post-workout you should fuel up. Before training, consume 20 grams of whey protein and 20-40 grams of carbs. What about after a workout? Great question … 


Grams of protein you should consume post-workout protein. Dr. Jim Stoppani suggests 20 grams from whey protein and 10-20 grams of protein from casein or 10 grams of soy.  


The standard Olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds.



Hours of rest your muscles typically need to recover from the stresses placed on them during a rigorous exercise session. In other words, if you blasted your delts on Monday evening, do not work them directly again until Thursday.


The negative portion of the rep—when the weight is descending—makes up 50 percent of the movement. If you allow the weights to uncontrollably drop on the way down, you’re only performing half of the exercise.


An hour is the ideal time to consume a whole-food meal after a post-workout shake made up of protein and sugary carbs; it’s also the best possible time after waking up and pre-workout to consume fruit.


The American Heart Association suggests the average person complete 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Broken down over a seven-day span, that’s a little over 10 minutes per day. We’re guessing you smash that on a daily basis. Nice work. But if you find yourself pressed for time, here are some short but effective 15-minute exercise routines you can use … 

Arms: 15 Minutes to Bigger Arms

Chest: M&F Raw! #40 – 15 Minute Tri-Set Chest Workout

Delts: 15-Minute Shoulder Workout by Jim Stoppani

Mass: 15-Minute Muscle Mass Routine

Opposing muscle groups: Three 15-Minute Muscle-Building Workouts

Compound exercises:

HIIT Cardio:


A normal resting heart rate falls between 60-100 beats per minute. If yours hovers consistently above (tachycardia) or below (bradycardia) those ranges—or if you often experience dizziness, fainting, or shortness of breath—put the weights down and schedule a doctor’s visit.