If you’ve been lifting for a while, you’ve probably learned that there’s no perfect number of sets and reps that works for everyone. Or is there?

Some of the most effective muscle- and strength-building programs share a common trait—the total number of reps for the main exercises usually add up to around 25. Shoot for that number over the next four weeks and your gains will add up fast, too.

Enter the 25-rep workout.

How it works:

On your main lifts, keep the reps low and do enough sets to reach roughly 25 total reps. Usually, this provides the right combination of volume and intensity without any wasted effort. We’ll show you how to vary the sets and reps each week.


Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, and 3) once per week, resting at least a day between each session.

For the exercises with prescribed reps:

Complete the exercises as straight sets, finishing all the sets for one move before moving on to the next. The first several prescribed sets should be done as part of your warmup. Gradually increase the weight and perform the reps with explosive speed. On your last two sets, use very challenging loads (so that you can get the prescribed number of reps but no more). Don’t go to failure or miss a rep.

Week 1: As shown.

Week 2: 6 sets of 4 reps.

Week 3: 5 sets of 8, 6, 6, 3, and 3 reps. On the power clean, do 6 sets of 6, 6, 5, 3, 3, and 3 reps.

Week 4: 3 sets of 8 reps. On the power clean, do 4 sets of 6 reps. Use 20%-25% less weight on all your exercises this week than you used on your heaviest sets last week.

For the exercises that don’t have prescribed reps (situps, dips, pullups):

Choose a weight with which you can do 10 to 12 reps in your first set. (If that's too much, just do bodyweight reps). Rest no more than one minute, then begin the next set. Rest and then do your third set. Now add up the total number of reps you’ve done and note the time needed. Set a goal for next week to complete more reps in the same time or do the same number of reps in less time.

Week 3: Do 60 reps.

Week 4: Do 40 reps.