100-Rep Century Set Workout (Ultimate Fitness Challenge)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: March 5, 2024
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

As a personal fitness and bodybuilding coach for more than a decade, I have seen only a few people switch to high-volume training with maximum reps.

And while it’s not the generally accepted approach, I was intrigued when I saw a colleague of mine implement a century workout routine.

The results were impressive, but it all came down to picking the right exercises and balancing different body parts in the routine.

So, our team of fitness coaches got together to design such a routine, and we tested it with seven clients over two months.

Here’s what’s involved.

Quick Summary

  • The Century Workout involves performing 100 reps of exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, and squats with minimal equipment, focusing on high-volume training.
  • It recommends starting with lower weights and balancing upper and lower body exercises for a well-rounded physique.
  • Begin by selecting exercises and weights that align with your current strength and fitness levels, starting at 30% of your usual load and progressively increasing from there.
  • Personally, I find the Century Workout to be an effective way to break through fitness plateaus and improve muscular endurance, though it may not significantly increase muscle size like traditional strength training.

Sample Century Workout Routine

A person doing a sample century workout

One thing I would suggest is to start conservatively.

If movements involve weights, then take a lower-weight approach to get started, as most people we tested this with ended up struggling with the number of reps.

Also, make sure you choose an equal number of lower and upper body exercises to maintain a balanced physique.

Bodyweight Squats

Start off with your shoulders wide apart and focus on maintaining a neutral spine.

The trick to this movement is to do it slowly and ensure that your thighs are at least parallel to the floor at the low point. 

But the further down you can go, the more effective the workout will be.

If you get to a stage where you can complete 100 squats in one set, then you can advance to using a small weight.

Also Read: 7 Squat Variations That Skyrocket Leg Gains

Wide-Grip Pull-Ups

When it comes to doing 100 pull-ups, most people won’t be able to do these in just a few sets. In that case, use a chair to support your weight.

Once you get to a stage where you can complete this exercise in about three sets, start reducing how much you support yourself and even add a weighted vest.

Also, mix things up by alternating between an overhand and an underhand grip.

Military Push-Ups

A person doing a military push up in the gym

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), these push-ups are a great way to do a compound exercise for your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles [1].

The trick with push-ups is to not do them as fast as possible.

Slow down the movement, and you’ll add more strain.

Deadlifts

We’re back to working with free weights, and the deadlift is a great way to strengthen your back and core.

NIH recommends that before you start loading up a heavier weight, try to introduce a slower movement for an increased time under tension [2].

Another thing you can consider is slightly lifting the bar above waist height, which will exercise your shoulders and arms as well.

Bench Press

This is another one of my favorite workouts, and I would suggest starting with about 30% of your normal load to achieve eight reps.

The first 20 to 30 reps of the workout might seem a bit easy, but you’ll probably start feeling the burn after 60 to 70 reps.

What Are The Benefits Of Century Sets?

A person with good muscle mass

From my experience as a trainer, I've found that century sets with minimal rest periods significantly increase time under tension, leading to enhanced hypertrophy.

Although high-rep workouts might delay the onset of muscle burn, they extend the duration of this sensation.

This prolonged burn not only increases energy expenditure but also stimulates greater muscle-building responses in the body.

“Time under tension is the time your muscle spends under load during a set. This includes the time spent in the concentric (shortening) phase, peak contraction phase, and eccentric (lengthening) phase.”

- Hunter Labrada, Bodybuilder & Labrada Nutrition Athlete

Choosing Weights And Sets

My recommendation here is to pick two upper and two lower body exercises to do the century workout.

Four different movements might not seem like much, but doing them with proper form will be more beneficial.

I would also say that you should pick movements and weights according to your strength and fitness levels.

Start with 30% of your regular loads and then gradually build up from there. 

This is not the time to try to be a hero, only to wear yourself out after the first workout.

Comparison with Traditional Strength Training

The 100-Rep Century Set Workout differs significantly from traditional strength training.

  • In Century Sets, you perform 100 consecutive reps of an exercise, which primarily enhances muscular endurance and stamina.
  • Traditional strength training, typically involving fewer reps (6–12) with heavier weights, primarily builds muscle size and strength. This method is more effective for increasing raw power and muscle hypertrophy. However, it may not improve endurance as effectively as Century Sets.
  • While Century Sets can offer a refreshing change and challenge, they might not provide the significant strength gains associated with traditional lifting.
  • Conversely, traditional strength training, while excellent for building muscle and strength, might not significantly boost muscular endurance as Century Sets do.

Each method has its place depending on individual fitness goals.

FAQs

Does Doing 100 Reps Build Muscle?

Yes, doing 100 reps will build muscle, as long as those reps bring you to failure and exhaustion. Even if you need to spread them over a couple of sets, pushing yourself that far can have excellent results for bulking.

What Happens If You Do 100 Bicep Curls Every Day?

If you do 100 biceps curls every day, you should notice consistent muscle growth. And because it’s a smaller muscle group, you should be able to recover faster and continue with the process.

What Happens if I Do Too Much Reps?

Doing too many reps can lead to muscle fatigue, increased risk of injury, and overtraining. It may hinder muscle growth and recovery, shifting exercise benefits to negative impacts, including reduced strength gains and prolonged muscle soreness.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592763/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3285070/
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

A man in the gym flexing his back and bicep muscles
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 3 months ago
Best Workout Routine to Build Muscle (7-Day Challenge)
A young woman using a StairMaster at the gym for her workout
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT 3 months ago
20 Minute StairMaster HIIT Workout (Ultimate Calorie Burner)
TRT & Acne Causes & Ultimate Treatments Guide Featured Image
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 20 days ago
TRT & Acne: Causes & Ultimate Treatments Guide
A woman working out her thigh muscles
By Christiana Mikesch, CPT 3 months ago
Best Vastus Lateralis Exercises (Ultimate Thigh Moves)
Skinny Fat Workout Featured Image
By Christiana Mikesch, CPT 1 month ago
Skinny Fat Workout (Ultimate Training Plan)
A person working out with a resistance band for Triceps
By Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC 4 months ago
Best Resistance Band Tricep Exercises (An Ultimate Guide)

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.