T Nation

80% of 1RM for 8x 2-3 Reps


I read your article about genetic body weight limitation, and how you can keep getting stronger by neural efficiency by doing workouts that dont burn you out like 8x2-3 … I also have 1.25 weights and have been wanting to try something like this

my 80% is 240 (bench) once a week or every 5-6th day

240 6x3
242.5 6x3
245 6x3
247.5 6x3

and so on … adding 2.5 lb a week … 5 lb a week is too much and i hit a wall quick it sucks. I wonder how long I can keep adding 2.5lb a week for ?
what are your thoughts?



It will take you twice as long to hit the wall, but you will end up roughly at the same place. For that method to have a chance of working well, IMHO you need to give the chance to your body to adapt to the load. And that requires about 5-8 workouts with the same weight. So if you do that 5 days a week (but that means that you will have to reduce the volume for exercises for the pressing muscles) and keeping the same weight for the 5 sessions, then increasing it, it might work to give you much better results. It might be even better to do 4 weekly sessions per week and sticking with the same weight for 2 weeks (8 sessions), or 3 weekly sessions for 3 weeks.


The 8 sets of 2-3 reps in the article used the Doug Hepburn progression model.

WORKOUT 1: 1 x 3, 7 x 2
WORKOUT 2: 2 x 3, 6 x 2
WORKOUT 3: 3 X 3, 5 X 2
WORKOUT 4: 4 X 3, 4 X 2
WORKOUT 5: 5 X 3, 3 X 2
WORKOUT 6: 6 X 3, 2 X 2
WORKOUT 7: 7 X 3, 1 X 2
WORKOUT 8: 8 X 3
THEN you can add weight and go back to 1 x 2, 7 x 3

For linear progression to work, the progression needs to be gradual enough that your body adapts to the load before being asked to progress again. And it’s not just a matter of making small jumps but of doing a lot of sessions with the same weight for the body to adapt to it (not only muscles but tendons, nervous system, etc.)

I’ll try to explain it simply:

At the moment your body has a certain strength potential. But it can’t yet fulfill it because your body wont let you use it (your protective mechanisms like the Golgi Tendon Organs are not allowing you to, for your own “safety”). So if you max is currently 300lbs your potential might be 320lbs (just an example).

Now, regardless of what progression model you use, provided that you do not do idiotic things you’ll get to 320, because you already have the potential to do it… it’s just a matter of training your body to let you use the strength you have.

So simply adding 2.5obs per week (or even 5lbs per week) will work to get you to around 255lbs for 3 reps, which would be 80% of 320lbs, but not much more than that.

To reach a much higher level you must “raise your potential”.

This is done either by adding a lot of muscle mass or by allowing your body to fully adapt to a load, by sticking to the same weight for many sessions.

If at every session you add weight you never give your body a chance to acclimate. As such your “potential” doesn’t really go up… only your capacity to use a greater amount of that potential.

To raise your potential you need acclimatation, and that requires asking your body to do a certain task many time; 6-8 workouts. Not that this is true mostly with neural based training (lower reps)… training based on intermediate or higher reps require different adaptations and do not respond to the same model.

I’ll use an analogy. Just because you sparred one time with an amateur boxer and survived doesn’t mean that you are ready to go in the ring with a pro. You need to do many sparring sessions, until you always kick the amateur’s ass before thinking about graduating to a better opponent.

Each workout with a weight is preparation for the next weight; the more you dominate a weight, the easier the transition will be. Of course by using 2.5lbs jumps you might not actually realize that with every workout you are less and less prepared for the next weight, until you finally hit the wall.


thanks for the reply ! I have had rotator cuff pain in the past but now i do daily exercises for them so Im good… im worried about multiple sessions a week making the pain flare up again I suppose if i lower all the volume and spread it out I could do 3 sessions per week something like this…

mon 240 3x3

wed 240 3x3

fri 240 2-3x3

maybe 4 sets of 3 each session … and then on 4th week start again 5 lb or even 2.5 lb more … im also thinking risk reward with the shoulder took my a while to strengthen it so it didnt hurt any more… damn injuries

thanks again


This means that as long as your rotator cuff is not 100% and you have zero fear of injury, you should not focus your bench press training performance. It WILL come to bit you in the ass, trust me


well as I write this my rotator hasnt hurt since april, and I have been keeping up with my rotator exercises before I do any upper body movement. I also have been pushing hard on bench to failure several sets with no issues … Im just not used to frequency training thats why I was wondering… 80% for sets of 3 seems fairly not taxing for sure much less taxing then how I have been training up until now


Odd question here (tangetilaly related) but didn’t want to start new thread. As I do heavier lifts, 80% 2-3 the next day I hear a lot of creaking when i first start my workout.

Like it kind of like bone creaking, but maybe the muscle/tendon themselves, particularly noticable when I warm up with pullups and dips.

I used to never get this, there’s no pain or anything but rather my whole body is very “tight” and maybe “strong” but its a different feeling back when I didn’t do so much strength work (where I felt more “pumped”, my muscles would swell). Now they dont swell on 80% 2-3 reps as much but the creaking is odd…makes me wonder if an injury is about to happen

Sorry if can’t be related to, just wondering if you’ve observed this coach


typically 80% you can do around 8 reps so 2-3 reps should be easy …very easy actually maybe deload take a week off



We can use this progression model for the 4 lifts (bench press, overhead press, deadlift and squat) once a week for each movement? even though we extend it for 8 weeks before change de weight?


It works best if you do a lift twice a week with it


As CT was saying, the Hepburn method, even the modified one, uses two lifts. Generally the deadlift and overhead press one day with bench press and squat the other. More frequency without an insane amount of volume.