stop watch

Are you bored at the gym or not seeing progress in your strength and endurance? Workouts can get dull when you do the same thing over and over, especially if you’re not seeing your body change or fitness improve as quickly as you’d like.

That’s why Fit Tip #21 is: Go For Time, Not Reps

When you lift weights, set a timer rather than count an exact amount of  reps. Even better, go for time and see how many reps you can get, then on your next round, see if you can beat your number!

No, there’s nothing wrong with counting reps – it’s a tried and true method of gaining strength and gives you a goal to aim for. However, sometimes focusing on reps can have a negative impact on how you think about your workout and success . For instance, if you yourself you have to complete 15 reps, then you’ll do just that and not really think about whether you really pushed yourself. Depending on how hard the weight is for you, you may either

1) Lift too light but feel successful because you did it, when in reality you could have pushed yourself for many more reps. In this case, you’re not going to make much progress because your muscles aren’t being challenged to reach failure. Or,

2) You’ll choose too heavy of a weight and not hit your desired number of reps, making you feel like a failure, when in reality you really pushed yourself. Because in the gym, failure actually means success!

So sometimes, rather than focus on reps, go for time. This will allow you to maximize time under tension, which is proven for effective muscle-building, rather than hurrying through exercises. It’s also a great way to keep workouts from becoming too stale and boring.personal trainer holding dumbbells

Workout for Time Under Tension – AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

Choose a time for each set and do as many reps with good form as you can during that time. So, I’m not talking some crazy CrossFit workout trying to max out on reps even if form goes to crap. Focus on quality reps, then speed. Just don’t use it as an excuse to move like molasses to make the time seem easier. Here’s how to plan it:

  1. Choose 3-5 exercises you want to perform
  2. Choose a time you’ll perform them for (probably anywhere from 30-90 seconds)
  3. Choose how many rounds you’ll do (2-4, depending on your fitness level and time available)

The video below will show you my workout as some exercise ideas for your timed workout. I did 2 sets of each exercise for 1 minute each, taking 1 minute to rest in between for full recovery. This is super taxing because you’ll push your muscles to failure each time. It’s also great for cardio, because you don’t stop moving. This one made me tired!

If you’re not feeling pretty exhausted after each exercise, pick a heavier weight or go for more time. This is a great way to build your muscle and boost your metabolism more than going for reps.

This workout includes the following exercises for a full body workout:

1 minute each, 2-3 rounds

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Dumbbell Clean & Press -Seated shoulder press
  • Leg Extensions
  • Captain’s Chair
  • Ball slams

You can do this in a total-body style like this workout, or do it like you would on a body part split (chest day, back day, leg day, etc).

If you workout at home, you can buy kettlebells, medicine balls and dumbbells here for 10% off with code HOLLY10.

About Author


OWNER & FOUNDER, RENEWAL FITNESS COACHING I am passionate about empowering YOU with a renewed sense of strength and self-confidence by teaching safe, accurate fitness and nutrition methods from a holistic approach to reach your goals. With extremely personalized programs for each unique person, I also incorporate the spiritual and emotional aspects of life every chance I get in order to address the deep struggles that are often overlooked and prevent lasting success.

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