How many reps you should do as a footballer - part 1

Jacob Strøm

Jacob Strøm

Performance specialist. Cand.scient. Sports Science. 25+ certificates from EXOS, Barca Innovation Hub etc.

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If you want to be faster and more explosive, it is important that you choose the right number of repetitions in your strength or performance training. If you choose the wrong number of repetitions and intensity, you risk becoming heavy and slow.
Jacob Strøm

Relationship between reps and intensity

Many people think that it is only the number of repetitions we do that determines whether we get stronger or gain more muscle mass. But choosing the right intensity to achieve what you want is just as crucial.

Overall, we can divide it into 4 different categories.

Relative strength is 1-5 repetitions, but where it is important that we use near 85-100% of our max. By training with these repetitions and intensity, we will primarily stimulate to become stronger without becoming heavier, as this load stimulates to improved neurological abilities and not muscular changes.

Functional hypertrophy is 6-8 repetitions and intensity of 78-83%. Functional hypertrophy is a mixture of relative strength and hypertrophy, and is a grey area where we stimulate both increased strength but also increased muscle mass.

Hypertrophy is 9-12 repetitions at an intensity of 70-76%. In this rep range it is primarily increased muscle mass we are stimulating.

If we do more than 12 repetitions, we primarily stimulate what is called "strength endurance" - i.e. we become more enduring during work with a relatively high load.

In order to respect the intensity (choice of % of 1RM), it is important that the break matches the target. Overall, we should pause longer for fewer repetitions and vice versa. Generally speaking, we should pause for 3-5 minutes in "relative strength", 2-4 minutes in "functional hypertrophy " and "hypertrophy". In "strength endurance" we can make do with 45-90 seconds rest.

How to choose correctly to become faster

It is important to remember that our goal is to become faster and more explosive. Therefore, we are not necessarily after pure strength goals in how much weight we can lift, nor are we after more muscle mass, which in most cases just make us heavier and not faster.

With our performance training, the goal is to be able to lift relatively heavy weight FAST! Therefore, you probably won't see much progress on the track by taking your squat from 120-150 kg. But if you can increase the speed of your 120 squat from 1 second to 0.9 seconds, you're more likely to become more explosive.

That's why we almost always do less than 5 reps, and at a lower intensity than what we just went through. We do this because we want to keep the pace HIGH!

This is also why we often use cluster sets. A cluster set is a set where you pause for 10-15 seconds between each repetition. When we do this, we can perform each repetition at a higher speed, ensuring that we get faster!


It can quickly become confusing when choosing repetitions and intensity, which is why many people choose wrongly and do what most people do. Namely doing bodybuilder inspired training, where it's all about exhausting the muscles with 70-83% intensity to make them grow.

But our goal as footballers is to get faster. Therefore, it is important that we choose few repetitions with a slightly lighter intensity based on overall goal/periodization, in order to become faster.

Remember, we've made the programs for you, so you can get faster! 

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