Weightlifting is one of the most effective ways to build muscle mass and strength. High-rep weightlifting, in particular, is a popular approach to building endurance and muscle hypertrophy. However, with any form of exercise, it is essential to understand the risks of overtraining. In this article, we’ll discuss how many sets are considered overtraining and offer some tips on how to avoid it.

What is Overtraining?

Overtraining is a condition that occurs when you exceed your body’s ability to recover from exercise. It results in a decreased performance, increased fatigue, and a higher risk of injury. The signs of overtraining can be subtle and may include a decrease in strength, endurance, and motivation to train.

How Many Sets are Considered Overtraining?

The number of sets required for overtraining varies from person to person, and it largely depends on your fitness level and training goals. Generally, doing too many sets can lead to overtraining, but it’s difficult to put a specific number as the threshold for overtraining. However, a study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine suggests that training volume exceeding 10-20 sets per muscle group per week may lead to overtraining.

Symptoms of overtraining

A symptom of overtraining is a decrease in performance that lasts for a longer period of time. In addition to this, additional symptoms may occur. The most common are:

  • apathy and general malaise,
  • sleep disorders,
  • chronic muscle or joint pain,
  • shortness of breath,
  • trembling of the limbs,
  • frequent sweating,
  • increased heart rate,
  • weight loss,
  • irritability,
  • reduced desire for sex.
  • However, it is important to know that the initial symptoms of overtraining are usually uncharacteristic and can be very different, depending on the type of sport played and the experience of the athlete.

Sports medicine distinguishes between two types of overtraining:

Type I – this occurs most often in young and inexperienced athletes. The body’s response to overtraining in these athletes is, among other things, an increase in blood pressure, an increase in resting heart rate, and sleep problems, i.e. symptoms indicative of excessive excitability of the body.

Type II – occurs in older athletes, especially those training in endurance sports. In this case, resting heart rate and blood pressure are reduced, and athletes do not have sleep problems. Instead, they face a significant decline in form.
Overtraining is a problem that affects both professional and amateur athletes.

Factors that Influence Overtraining

Various factors can contribute to overtraining, including training frequency, exercise intensity, and duration, and rest and recovery times. Here are some factors to consider:

Training Frequency:

How often you train affects your recovery time between sessions. If you train a muscle group too frequently, you might not give your muscles enough time to rest and recover, leading to overtraining. For example, training the same muscle group two or three times a week with high volume can lead to overtraining.

Exercise Intensity and Duration:

The intensity and duration of your workouts also play a crucial role in overtraining. High-intensity workouts require longer recovery periods than low-intensity workouts. Therefore, if you’re doing high-rep weightlifting, it’s essential to keep your workouts under control and avoid going to failure on every set. Also, it’s advisable to keep the duration of your workouts under 60 minutes to avoid overtraining.

Rest and Recovery Times

Rest and recovery time is crucial to avoiding overtraining. Taking a break between workout sessions allows your muscles to recover and adapt to the stress of training. It’s also essential to give your body enough sleep and rest between workouts. Lack of sleep can lead to decreased performance, increased fatigue, and an increased risk of injury.

How to Avoid Overtraining

The best way to avoid overtraining is to listen to your body and pay attention to the signs of overtraining. Here are some tips to help you avoid overtraining:

Plan Your Training:

It’s essential to plan your workouts and set achievable goals. You can create a training plan that gradually increases in intensity and volume over time. A well-planned training program ensures that you don’t train too much too soon, leading to overtraining.

Track Your Progress:

Track your progress to ensure that you’re not overtraining. Keep a training log and record the number of sets, reps, and weights lifted in each workout. You can use the data to determine whether you’re progressing or overtraining.

Rest and Recover:

Take time to rest and recover between workouts. Give your muscles enough time to rest and recover before engaging them again. Also, make sure to get enough sleep and eat a balanced diet.


Overtraining can derail your fitness goals and lead to injury. High-rep weightlifting is an effective way to build endurance and muscle hypertrophy, but it’s essential to understand the risks of overtraining. Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to overtraining. The number of sets required for overtraining varies from person to person. Therefore, it’s essential to listen to your body, plan your training and take time to rest and recover between workouts.