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Last week I started going to the gym; I've never really worked with weights before in my life and I'm 31.

Question: how many sets are necessary for a beginner? Is it true for beginners that one set is as effective as 2-3? I've seen in various places that studies lately have suggested that.

If that's true, for how many weeks can I get by with just one set? When should I add a 2nd or third?



I just started weight lifting for the first time ever back in September. (I'm turning 33 later this week.) Although it was painful, I started with 3 sets of 12. I went very low weight and have gradually pushed my weight and reps up. Some excercises, I do 3 x 15 or 3 x 20. But most of the time it's still 3 x 12. From what I've read, you want to try and time your muscle exhaustion to the very end of that final, 3rd set.

The first two weight training sessions were the most painful things I think I had ever experienced, but after a few sessions your body adapts quite nicely. Stick with it (2 - 3 times a week) and you will see some results in around 6 weeks. Make sure you bump up your protein intake and definitely shoot for a liquid protein shake within 1.5 hours of a workout.

Good luck!


If you are new to the gym, they should offer a free intro to the weight room. They will go over proper form. This is very important so you don't get injured later.

Ease into it. When first starting, I would not go to failure. You will be sore enough the next day. Go for 2 sets of 12-20 with light weights (about 50% of what you think you could lift max one time). I prefer free weights because they bring in secondary and stabilizer muscles.

For a good program for endurance athletes that starts you off easy. It may seem too easy at first; but, trust the program. Check out Weight training This will bring you through the correct phases so you are ready for race season next year.