The Art of Counting Reps: More than Just Numbers

Counting reps is more than a numerical exercise; it’s about maintaining focus, measuring intensity, and ensuring you’re pushing your limits— Let’s get into how to count reps (and why!), safely and effectively.

Five Reasons Why Counting Reps is Your Secret Workout Weapon

Written By Michael Campanella

WHY must I count my reps?“, is a FAQ in the training world but, moreover how to count reps on top of the hard work your body is already doing tends to come up frequently as well.

Picture This: You’re lifting weights at the gym, straining with effort, sweat dripping off the tip of your nose (causing your trainer slight heart palpitations).

Your mind, now a battleground between determination and exhaustion, starts to wander. “Did I leave the oven on? What was the name of my first-grade teacher? Who’s picking up Sally from school today? Who is Sally?

Next thing you know, you’ve either done 10 reps or 100– but who’s counting, amiright?

WRONG, Bucko. Not counting your reps during a set is like going on a road trip without keeping track of the exits. Sure, you’re moving, but there ain’t no way in hell you’re going to end up in the right place. The obvious implication here is that if you count your reps, you’ll end up in the right place. And, obviously, the right place is Gainzville.


Five Reasons Why Counting Reps is Your Secret Workout Weapon and How To Do It

  1. Engagement: Counting reps keeps your mind focused and engaged with the task at hand. It’s the difference between mindlessly moving weights and actively sculpting your physique with mathematical precision.
  2. Intensity Check: If you’re losing count during your set because you’re daydreaming about pizza, chances are the exercise isn’t challenging enough. Instead, if the number you desperately seek is, “When will this set end?“, then you’re probably on the right track.
  3. Muscle Mindfulness: When you count your reps, you’re more likely to think about the specific muscles you are working. If you’re thinking about the specific muscles you’re working, you’re more likely to perform the exercise correctly. If you perform the exercise correctly you’re more likely to get stronger, reduce injury, feel better, make more money, and be happier. (Kind of a stretch, but I am pretty close). “How many do I have left?” (Two. Always two.)
  4. Breath Control: For those of you who have difficulty knowing when to breathe during an exercise, check this out. Counting each rep almost always syncs up with the moment during an exercise you’re supposed to exhale! How cool is that!? (It’s kind of cool.)
  5. Quality Control: It helps trainers (yes, us!) immensely. Instead of us trying to have a conversation with you, watch your technique, cue your form, compliment your proficiency, explain adjustments, and also count reps at the same time, we can focus on the task at hand (you – and your training).

Don’t get me wrong, losing track of what number you are on is unavoidable (and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about). Forgetting what rep you are on is an ancient tradition, a shared experience that stretches back to the very first person who ever lifted a rock and thought, “I should do this ten times” (and then immediately said to themselves, “shit, what number am I on?” and then, in a state of distraction and confusion, was subsequently eaten by a bear).

But just because it’s unavoidable, doesn’t mean we should give in to the inescapable pressure and crushing anxiety of life…I mean…of counting reps. Combined with other strategies, counting reps is a necessary part of your training regimen!

In conclusion, count it out!

Counting reps is more than a numerical exercise; it’s about maintaining focus, measuring intensity, and ensuring you’re pushing your limits to maximize your muscle gains–safely and effectively.

So, next time you’re at the gym lifting weights, think to yourself, “I don’t want to be eaten by a bear, I should pay attention to what I am doing and count each rep.” But in all seriousness, you’ll find that you get more out of your sessions when you count your reps. Your muscles–and your trainer–will thank you.

Happy Counting (and recounting).

P.S. If you find counting challenging, consider it a brain exercise. Who says you can’t have a six-pack on your body and your brain?


Michael Campanella


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