Building muscle is not just about smashing the same old weights in the gym. To gain mass you need to follow a structured training program tailored to your personal goals. In this article Gwen Gothard explains the common terminology of training programs and how different sets, reps and exercises can influence end results.

Back to basics; reps, sets and rest periods

One repetition (rep) is one complete motion of an exercise and a set is a group of consecutive reps completed of that particular exercise. There are many different ways and patterns to complete training sets and reps, all of which will have different benefits to influence end results. Rest periods are often under estimated, rest refers to the period of time you pause before completing your next set.

Set yourself a goal

Consider what your overall goal is so that you can tailor your resistance and repetitions accordingly. The following rules apply when choosing which weight to use and the amount of repetitions and sets you complete.

Increase muscle strength and growth– 6-10reps / heavy resistance

Increase power – 6-10 reps / medium to heavy weight with controlled ‘explosive’ movement.

Muscular endurance – 12-20 reps / low – medium weight

Finding the right weight for you: 1-Rep Max

Lifting the same weight for months on end will result in minimal progression and gains. The way to bulk is to lift heavier weights than usual. Your 1- repetition maximum (1RM or 1 Rep Max) refers to the heaviest amount of weight you can lift in a single repetition for a given exercise. It is important to know where you currently stand with 1RM (not what you have previously lifted or what you would like to lift – this is WHAT YOU CAN LIFT CURRENTLY). Once you have identified your 1-RM you can then workout the resistance appropriate for you. To increase muscle and strength your weights should be approximately 80% of your 1-RM. E.g. If your 1-RM for squats is 100kg then you should be aiming to lift 80kg for 6-10 reps.

What are compound movements?

Compound movements are exercises that engage two or more different joints to fully stimulate entire muscle groups. Squats, deadlifts, chin ups, bent over rows, bench press and overhead press are all examples of compound movements. When you are looking to increase muscle mass, these are the exercises you should be focusing on.

What are super-sets?

Supersets can maximise your opportunity to target many muscle groups and/ or save time in the gym. A technique where you perform two exercises, one after the other, with no rest in-between. Super-sets have many different variations however the most common ones are performed with opposite muscle groups e.g. bench press (chest) followed by bent over row (back).

Example of a Super-Set

1A) Bench Press x10 reps (straight into next exercise with no rest)

2A) Pull ups x 10 reps (followed by a rest of 45-60 seconds)

Repeat this exercise routine four times (x4 sets)

Rest Periods

Most people don’t realise that rest periods are a critical part of program design, and there’s actually a science behind it. Unplanned rest periods resulting in too long or too short a time between sets can heavily effect bulking results. Keep an eye on the time and avoid chatting to mates, checking your phone or losing concentration between sets. For hypertrophy results (increase in muscle size) aim for a maximum of 30-180 seconds rest between sets. Your chosen length of time will vary depending on muscle group, weight lifted and sets completed.

Remember muscles only grow in direct proportion to your current training program. If you keep using the same weights and the same amount of reps and sets each week, you will not improve your performance or appearance. Training programs are a great way to keep you on track and ensure you are gaining the best possible bulking results. Check out the Musashi Way to Bulk Program to start building your new body today.


  1. Despite the isolation split favoured by many gym-goers, the best way to pack on mass is to perform heavy compound lifts. These promote the greatest release of testosterone, as they recruit the most amount of muscle groups. Bicep curls won’t get you huge – but deadlifts, squats and bench press can.
  1. To feed the muscles and trigger speedy recovery always ensure you consume your post-training shake e.g. Musashi Bulk or Musashi Bulk Extreme within 30-minutes of finishing.
  1. Ensure you are eating every 3-hours by alternating a solid meal with a Musashi Bulk or Musashi Extreme Protein shake.
  1. Be sure to change your training program every 8-10 weeks to keep your muscles guessing and assist further muscle stimulation.
  1. To prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) make sure you allow at least 10-15min at the end of each training session to cool down and stretch.