The Science Behind Repetition

Annual holiday turned classic romantic comedy, Groundhog Day highlights the drudgery of repetition.

And while yes, repetition may seem boring, the old adage “practice makes perfect” shows how beneficial this training method can be—especially in the fitness world. A repetition training program benefits your mind and body in a variety of ways.

If you’ve ever worked out with a personal trainer or taken a BODYPUMP class, then you’re already familiar with sets and repetitions. A repetition, or “rep,” is one complete exercise movement while a “set” is a group of consecutive reps. So, three sets of fifteen reps looks like 15 bicep curls, rest for 30 seconds, 15 bicep curls, rest for 30 seconds, 15 bicep curls.

(Note: when we think of reps, usually it is in regards to weight lifting; however, reps are also part of cardio training.)

There are different types of reps based on your specific fitness goals: high resistance, low repetition and low resistance, high repetition. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 12-15 reps of a light load to increase endurance, 8-10 reps of a moderate load to aid hypertrophy, and 3-5 reps of a heavy load to build strength. The weight itself will differ based on the individual—just make sure that your weight selection is appropriate for muscle fatigue.

Additional benefits of repetition

Heightens Concentration
Take time to truly focus on what you’re doing—no more going through the motions. Be slow and precise as you work your way through each set or interval.

Improves Motor Skills
Performing the same exercise repeatedly allows you to fine tune your movements and master the basics. Repetition of a specific movement invokes muscle memory. In the same vein, you can train for a specific sport or goal by monitoring your weights and repetition in relation to your tennis swing, layup form, or swim stroke.

Optimizes Performance Tracking
Over time, as you repeat, your performance during each set will improve. Track your progression to see how your body completes each movement throughout the week and measure your time, fatigue, and weight to see improvements. 

Aids Understanding of Your Body
Some workouts are better than others. By following a repetition training program, you will easily be able to identify when you’re in a mental slump versus when you’re actually having a bad training day. Listen to your body; know when you need to rest and when you can push harder.

The key is to find the training style and program that works best for you and your goals. Our team of personal trainers and fitness professionals are here to help you every step of the way.