How Many Sets and Reps for Fat Loss

How many set and reps should I do in my fat loss workout? That’s one of the most common questions I get.

Now what you need to realize is here is that we are not doing traditional old school body building workouts with Turbulence Training. That is not what we’re doing at all.

Instead, we are doing total body workouts and that’s going to change how many sets and reps used in a program. But this is all part of the plan to get MAXIMUM RESULTS in MINIMUM TIME.

We are not training six days a week for 90 minutes. So we are focusing on three workouts per week sometimes four. With an upper body and lower body split but most of the time three total body workouts focus on multi muscle workouts.

You’ll do four to six exercises per-workout in super-sets (meaning “paired” sets) and you’re going to do two exercises at most per muscle groups. You are not going to do bench, dumbbell bench, dumbbell incline, dips and chest fly’s all in one workout. That’s old-school bodybuilder training, but not the best way to train for fat loss. Plus, that old school approach WILL RUIN YOUR SHOULDER, and it’s not going to give you maximum results for what we want to accomplish.

When it comes to sets and reps you are going to focus on three rounds of each super-set of each exercise. And if you only have time for one set that is totally fine you will only get about 60% – maybe even 75% – of the results, even if you do one set per exercise. That’s perfect for holidays and perfect for busy times of the year.

But research does show that if you do three sets you get a better response than you will if you do one set. SO we are focusing on three sets.

When we do our workouts we are going to start with the hardest exercise first and move on to moderate exercises by the end. That also means that we want to focus on quality repetitions throughout the workouts but start with lower repetitions, 6-8 reps in the first pair of exercises. In the second pair of exercises, we are going to do 8-12 reps and the third set we are going to do 10-
12 reps and even higher reps depending on what we do.

Let’s break this down to a workout taking a look at a total body workout starting with the first exercise.

We will start with a super-set of reverse lunges paired with overhead presses. The reverse lunge trains our lower body (butt and thighs – ie. glutes, quads, and hamstrings) first with 8 reps per side. That is followed by an overhead press for 8 reps per side. Rest for a one minutes and repeat that two more times for a total of three sets each.

Next follow that with a dumbbell row with 8-12 reps. That’s a pulling exercise hitting our upper back and is paired with a stability ball roll out 8-12 reps. Rest for a one minutes and repeat that two more times for a total of three sets each.

For our third super-set, we’ll do a stability ball leg curl, going as high as 20 reps. That can be paired with pushups, doing as reps as possible. If that is too easy, and you can do 50 of those you might want to do a close grip pushup or put your feet up on something for a decline pushup to make it harder and go through that super-set three times.

So we’ve done 6 exercises, 3 sets of each, and worked in a rep range of 8-20 (or more for pushups).

As you can see, there’s no single answer to how many sets and reps you’ll do in a fat loss workout, but as you know, one of the keys to fat loss success is variety in training.

In addition, we’ll finish up with interval training – or even metabolic resistance conditioning – to burn more belly fat and get advanced fat loss results in a short amount of time.

That’s how you build the best sets and reps into a fat loss workout.

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, M.Sc.
Certified Turbulence Trainer