Reps and Sets Explained | Boxing Strength Training

Reps and Sets Explained

Boxers know strength training is key to their performance. Find out why strength training is broken down into reps and sets, and how many are right for you.

Published: January 6, 2022

Topics: Tips & Technique, Training

Author: Mollie McGurk

Boxers incorporate strength training into their workouts for a multitude of reasons. Increasing overall muscle strength is key to maintaining balance, improving endurance, preventing injury, and generating more power with every punch.

Strength training uses resistance to challenge the muscles. This resistance can be generated by your own bodyweight or with equipment like a kettlebell or medicine ball. As you introduce more resistance into each movement, your muscle fibers develop micro tears that eventually will heal into stronger tissue. This is why it is so important to approach strength training in a controlled manner and prioritize recovery time so that you can become a stronger version of yourself!

Here we’ll look more closely at how reps and sets help boxers use strength training safely and effectively.

What are reps and sets?

Shanie Smash doing kettlebell reps

You will hear the phrase “reps and sets” used all the time in strength training. Reps and sets are ways to measure the number of times you complete one exercise or one drill. The number of reps and sets you do is dependent on the exercise, your level of fitness, and your fitness goals.


The term ‘reps’ is short for repetitions. Reps refers to the number of times you repeat a specific movement without stopping.

  • Example: 5 bicep curls in a row = 5 reps


Sets denote how many times you repeat a sequence of reps, with a rest period in between each sequence.

  • Example: 5 bicep curls in a row completed 3 times (with rest in between) = 3 sets of 5 reps

Why should you do reps and sets?

Coach PJ Doing Kettlebell Sets

There are four (4) reasons to break down strength training exercises into reps and sets.

1. Establish Your Baseline

Starting with a lighter weight and seeing how many reps and sets you can do will give you an idea of your baseline fitness level, helping you set personal goals.

2. Track Your Progress and Stay Motivated

Sticking with that weight and number of reps and sets allows you to evaluate your progress so you know when to level up and increase the weight or number of reps and/or sets. It can also keep you motivated to finish out the number of full sets in your workout, even when you feel like quitting. You know what you are capable of!

3. Prevent Injury

Knowing your fitness level so you can make realistic goals for your reps and sets will prevent overtraining and possible injury.

4. Build Muscle

The foundation of strength training is science. Performing reps and sets triggers the muscles to increase strength under controlled conditions in much the same way your muscles build strength naturally – in cycles of repetition and recovery!

How many reps and sets should a boxer do?

Shanie Smash Doing Sets of Kettlebell Exercises

The number of reps and sets a boxer should complete during strength training varies. Setting reps and sets depend on three (3) main factors:

1. Exercise/Muscle Group

Some movements are simply easier to complete than others, requiring more reps and/or sets to pose any resistance at all. When you are working muscles that are commonly used, like your biceps, you may want to increase the number of reps, sets, or weight to challenge the muscle. Less commonly used muscles, such as the triceps, are generally weaker, requiring far fewer reps and sets and much less resistance to feel the impact.

2. Fitness Level

As with all exercise, beginners need to proceed more cautiously when embarking on a strength training program. While pushing yourself is always encouraged, overdoing it with too many reps and sets, or jumping in with too much weight, can result in injury. Even experienced boxers can overtrain and get burnt out. It’s recommended that you start training with lighter weights, and fewer reps and sets to establish your personal baseline and slowly increase weight and frequency as you advance.

3. Goals

There are different approaches to weight training reps and sets depending on what you are trying to achieve.

  • Muscle Strength and Endurance: Using lighter weights to complete more reps and sets will improve muscle strength safely and increase muscle endurance over time. Gradually using heavier weights is even more effective in challenging your muscles to grow. Beginners need to be confident that they are using proper form before adding more resistance and weight.

  • Increased Muscle Mass (Hypertrophy): Using heavier weights for shorter durations is best for increasing muscle mass. Remember, it takes a lot to bulk up like a bodybuilder. Professional bodybuilders who are trying to bulk up their physique will use much heavier weights – and consume massive amounts of calories to substantially increase muscle size. Eating like a boxerwhile using more resistance will make you lean and strong rather than bulky, so don’t shy away from using heavier weights if you’re ready!

How many reps and sets should I do?

Coach PJ Doing Reps of Kettlebell Exercises

You should take all of the above factors into consideration when you are determining how many reps and sets you should do. Following a training program designed for your fitness level is the best way to choose how many reps and sets are appropriate for each exercise. A beginner may be crushing their goals by doing 3 sets of 5 reps for one exercise, whereas someone at an advanced level may be barely challenged at 5 sets of 10 reps of the same exercise. Focus on your personal milestones, follow a trainer’s guidance, and listen to your body!

We recognize that starting your boxing training can be overwhelming, from perfecting your form and building your skill level, which is why we offer the Prospect Path on the FightCamp App, featuring videos and boxing tutorials for all levels. The professional trainers are also here to help you along your fitness journey. Discover more tips on how to strength train like a pro boxer on our YouTube Channel. Keep training, and your hard work will soon show its results!

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Mollie McGurk

Mollie McGurk is a writer and has trained in boxing, kickboxing, MMA, and HIIT for over 10 years. She has also studied personal training through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) program.

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