The effect of self-selecting the number of repetitions on motor performance and psychological outcomes

Aviv Emanuel, Itai Har-Nir, Isaac Isur Rozen Smukas, Israel Halperin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In resistance-training, the number of repetitions can be either fixed and predetermined (e.g., 3 sets of 10 repetitions), or selected by the trainee during ongoing sets (e.g., 3 sets of 8–12 repetitions). The first approach is more goal-focused while the latter is more autonomy-focused. Here we compared these two approaches in motor performance and psychological outcomes. Nineteen resistance-trained participants (10-males) first completed one repetition-maximum (RM) tests in the barbell-squat and bench-press, and were familiarized with the isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP). In the next two counterbalanced sessions, participants completed two sets of the squat and bench-press using 70%1RM, and two sets of the IMTP. In the predetermined session, participants completed 10 repetitions in all sets, and in the self-selected session, participants chose how many repetitions to complete out of an 8–12 range. Bar-velocity was measured in the squat and bench-press, and force production in the IMTP. Enjoyment, perceived-autonomy, and approach-preferences were collected post-sessions. We observed comparable bar-velocity, force production, and enjoyment in both conditions (all BF01 > 2.1), and an even approach-preferences split. However, in the self-selected condition, participants demonstrated considerable variability in the number of repetitions and reported greater perceived-autonomy. Given the similarities between approaches, both can be used with this cohort based on their personal-preference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2398-2407
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2021


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