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The 25-Rep Rule

I felt like writing an article today, so here goes.

The 25-Rep Rule

Follow this simple guideline for big strength gains

If you can add (although a lot of people think we lifters can’t), you can get stronger. Just obey the “25-rep rule”, says C.J. Murphy, MFS, a Boston strength coach and owner of Total Performance Sports.


This is Murph. Are you gonna argue with him?

This is Murph. Are you gonna argue with him?


Here’s what you do

Choose an exercise (this works best for major barbell lifts, such as the bench press and squat) and perform several low-rep sets—just make sure the total number of reps adds up to roughly 25. For instance, you could do five sets of five reps, six sets of four, or eight sets of three. “That could be a weekly progression,” says Murph. “Do 5×5 the first week, then 6×4 the second week, 8×3, and repeat the cycle.”

Always leave at least one rep “in the tank” on every set. You can start very conservatively and add weight each set so that the last set is the toughest. Perform each rep explosively.

Sticking with 25 reps or so is a good guideline because nearly every configuration will give you a balance of volume and heavy weight for growth and strength. Don’t go to extremes, like 12 sets of 2—that takes a long time—and keep the reps at around six or fewer (3×8, for example, nets you more size gains and less pure strength). It all adds up to big progress.

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