Why I Don’t Count Reps

I work with many brand new, curious, and inquisitive individuals who commonly ask, “How many reps?” Rep counting is under the umbrella of programming. Programming is necessary for busting plateaus, not for learning form.


I have them do the exercise for an arbitrary number (10). They won’t do it perfectly, but they’ll get a feel for it. Then I give them a few tips on what I see and tell ’em to do as many as they can. I stop ’em when they no longer can maintain form. Happily ever after.

Now there are exceptions to this. Some of the exercises I do with people require more time building up to the full movement. Sometimes I will break down an exercise into different movements and practice before putting it together. Yes I said practice.

What I’ve come to find is most people don’t believe exercise is a skill, but it is. A skill that has to be taught, learned, practiced, and honed like any other.

That being said, I like to throw out a number to give the person a number to aim for. I believe that’s important when to staying engaged mentally. However I always get asked how many reps. Always.

Me: “Alright Leo let’s get 15 rows here on the TRX.”

Leo: “Ok (does 5 reps), how many reps Nick?”

Me: “15.”

Leo: “15 more or total?” (no longer doing rows at this point)

Me: “Don’t stop! 15 total.”

Leo: “How many have I done so far?” (as he continues to row)

Me: ratapan_akhir_tahun

In Leo’s defense, if I recall correctly this did happen at the same time his gym crush was training as well. It’s a job in and of itself keeping Leo focused when she’s in here.


When a person asks how many reps during the exercise I know they are getting tired. I know they don’t want to have a conversation about programming mid exercise. Usually I just yell two more and wait for them to finish before going into any explanations.

Ok, I gotta hop on the bike for a few miles and run a few more before my brother and sister-in-law get here. I’ve just been informed they are niece-less which is to say a bummer, but it will be nice to see them both for the day. Stay cool out there!


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