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Am I Loading Correctly?


I am trying to increase my strength on my core lifts. All of them seem to be going nicely except the bench press and overhead press. I am currently doing three sets. A set of 7, a set of 5, then a final set of 3. I have been doing it so that each set is the most I can lift for that amount of reps. Is this correct? I have read some things about the first two sets being a lower percentage of the 1Rm (in my case the 3RM). I'm not sure which is the best way though cause it seems that if I do it this way I am doing less work.

Warm Up-
barx10 95x3 115x3 135x3

Working sets-
185x7 190x5 195x3

Thanks for checking this out


I'm new myself, but I read some where the other day that you don't want to push your Benches to the max every workout. And you need to try for explosive movements.


I havent really read any of your previous threads, but going based of their titles, you just seem like a program jumper (just an assumption, could totally be wrong)

"lowering rep ranges"
"different rep ranges"
"Training after specialization program"
"new routine for size and strength"
"how does this routine look"
"rep range"

you've made 6 threads about programing within 6 months of you being a member. Do you really expect us to believe you've been consistent? You've been repeatedly given advice in those threads and just arent grasping what the main point is.

Just reading through one of them and someone posted this:

I'm nothing special so take my advice for what it's worth. Look for a program that YOU like made by someone who knows more then you and do it for 6 months. Personally speaking, I've done 531 for about a year now and have seen great gains. But that's just one of many programs to chose from.


I may be guilty of being a bit of a program jumper. Recently I have had to change things up frequently do to health issues that have given me limitations. For this specific quesiton though I am not necessarily looking to change my program. I am just curios as to wether or not my current method of loading for each set is correct. Thanks for the honest assessment though. Its good to hear about your flaws, which in my case (besides being weak in the bench press haha) is inconsistency.


There are so many possible answers to this question. Will you make progress with a different loading parameter? Is this what your asking? Sure... Is it unwise to do three sets of an exercise for the maximum wt. at the max reps possible? Is this what your asking? Probably.... but then again, it could be your rest pattern in between the sets, and if consistency is an issue, well it could be that. Decreasing variables is the surest way to know what is occurring.


I guess I'm having a hard time explaining my question. My bad. Let me put it another way. If my 3RM is 195, what is the best way to get to that for building muscle and gaining strength.

Something along the lines of this:

185x7 190x5 195x3

Or something more like this

175x7 185x5 195x3

It just feels like the second option would be less work, therefore less muscle growth and less strength gains.


Neither one of these is optimal. There is simply not enough volume there. That is only 15 total reps for that movement.

How did you arrive at your 3RM? Did you use a calculator, test yourself or take a guess? Personally, I would drop the weight some and add in more volume.

How often do you bench and what do you do the day before? Do you do any warm up at all? Is your press the first movement for that day or are you doing other things before that?

Whenever I have trouble in the past with a lift, I will always stop to ask myself - Have I done something recently that would affect my energy or strength? Did I rest enough between sets? Did I leave enough in the tank for my last set or did I do too many sets/reps leading up to?

It's really all about self-inventory. You need to learn when it's time to move ahead, when it's time to back off and when it's time to revise a new strategy.

To answer your original question though, no, I would not ever load like that.


I arrived at my 3RM by testing myself in a pretty simple way, what was the most weight I could lift for 3 reps. I bench twice a week, and I do warmup sets before but it is my first movement of the day (because I can't squat at the moment). I try to feel out when I'm ready for my next set, so I have no idea how long my rest periods are exactly.

Just when I know I'm ready if that makes sense. And how would you load? Im curious to see how others do it. Should've put that in the original post but could I get specific examples from your last bench press workout as to how you loaded? Also maybe a sense of your progression and when you know its time to move up in weight?


Oh and before I was doing 3 sets of 7,5,3 I was doing 10,8,6. While that allowed for more volume I was stuck in a rut for awhile and decided to lower the reps to increase strength.


Good! You're using a lot of common sense. Nobody progresses at exactly the same rate and not everyone likes the same methods. Even though I think that a template is a good place for a beginner to start, nothing is as universal as to tell everyone to follow A,B and C so you do need the ability to self-assess.

How would I, personally, load? I'm female so keep in mind that my weight increments will be much smaller than a man. I would work up to my 3RM by beginning with the bar to warm up and then maybe throw 20 pounds on for 5 or 6 reps, throw on another 20 pounds for a few reps, up to 115 for a few reps and so on and so forth until I can't do 3 reps any longer. After I do that, I will drop back to around 70% and will do sets of maybe 3x4 or 4x6.

I just don't think you will see incredible results with 15 reps of anything.

As far as knowing when to increase your weight, you will get to the point where 195 feels easier. You can try adding some more weight then. To give you a time frame isn't really fair because everyone is different. Could be 3 weeks, 6 weeks or 2 months. Can be longer than that the more years you spend lifting too.


Well thanks for the advice, I appreciate it. It would be nice to hear from a guy too just to see the weight increments but that was def helpful. Its kinda confusing understanding how doing 3 reps of lighter loads is as much work as doing as much as you can each set if that makes sense.

I'm not doubting you just trying to figure it all out in my head. I do understand what you mean by feeling when to progress. Thats what I have been doing up until this point and its slow going, but it works. Thanks again. It would be great to get some more advice from the more experienced lifters on here...


Doing more reps at lighter weights on your way to your 3RM is not as much work at a 3RM. Strength is a function of the CNS and to get stronger you need to put work in with the weights. 3RM's don't make you strong. Teaching your body to move weight is what makes you strong. We're talking about adapting to demands. "Demands" being moving weight.

As far as your original question, your rep scheme will depend on your goals. If I were you, with your current numbers, I'd go with 5x5, 6x3. Prilepins chart kind of stuff. Then once your strength work is done, work on some hypertrophy.


Well thanks for the response. Just one question on what you said. If I should do 5x5, then how do I find out what amount of weight to do for 5 reps. Should it be the most possible weight I can do for 5 reps?


Lots of ways to do it. 2x5 warm up, 3x5 of the same weight. 5x5 of the same weight. 5x5, all sets leading up to a 5RM on set 5.

Like I've said before, it's about adaption. Doing 4x5, then only being able to make 3 reps on the last set is fine. You've reached a low rep max. Do that same workout for 3 weeks, then on the 3rd week, try and get those extra 2 reps. If you can, go ahead and move up in weight. Volume is just as important as intensity. Pick something and hit it for awhile.


try seeing the forest beyond the trees