Workout Notation (reps, sets, etc)

Milton Holdiem

So you open your workout and you see some numbers and letters, what does it all mean?!

Every workout has a purpose. The weights we use, the amount of times we perform an exercise, and even how long we rest for changes the way our body adapts to the work.

Knowing the notation in a workout helps you understand exactly what to do in a workout. That way, you don't get confused or overwhelmed when you come across something new!

Here's a screencast about workout notation

Sets & Reps


The amount of times you perform an exercise.
From standing, perform 10 Goblet Squats.
Boom that’s 10 reps.

You’ll normally see reps written like this
3x10  the 10 is the reps.

That number on the left?
That number represents the “Sets,” or the amount of cycles you repeat the specified amount of reps for.


The amount of time you repeat the reps.
So when reading it, you’d say:
3 Sets of 10
Or 3 by 10.


Our body doesn’t know if it’s doing a squat or a lunge. It only understands the resistance it’s under. Tempo is a tool we use to change up resistance in our training.

That resistance? It’s known as “time under tension” and is what allows our body to adapt and grow.

When we slow down, speed up, or pause at certain points, we’re adding extra time under tension.

We can get more from an exercise without needing a ton of weight.

What is tempo?

Tempo is simply the speed of an exercise.
Pause squats? Pullup negatives? These are all different tempos that change up the stimulus & add time under tension

Why is it important? What are the benefits?

Tempo builds strength safely.
Keeps the intensity up without having to add weight every time.
It’s great for home workouts where you may not have 5 pairs of dumbbells.


In a workout, tempo notation looks like this:

An example for goblet squats:
Goblet Squats:
3x6 @3121

Here’s how we read it.

3 Seconds down
1 Sec pause at the bottom
2 Seconds up
1 Sec pause at the top

In total, 1 rep of the goblet squat would take you 7 seconds.
Add the amount of reps you did which was 6 and thats 42 total seconds in the squat. That’s a lot more time than if you just went down and exploded up for each rep.