This is in the first email that John sends to every single one of his client
"Using the right weight
When I say 3 sets of 10, I don't mean every set should be flat out failure at 10 reps. The reps should always be hard. Usually with this pattern, you should feel like you have one MAYBE 2 reps in the tank after the first set or two, but the last one is a really hard 10, and you may not even get all 10.
Many times I will say go up to a weight until you can do x number of reps with it, and we?ll count the last 3 sets as working. So if you are doing barbell inclines for example, and 225 for 8 is as much as you can muster. You wouldn?t want to do 135 and then right to 225. You would want to do a set of 8 with say 200, then one with 215, then the one with 225. Make sense? That would be a typical pyramid. Another example, on the leg press you may do 1 plates a side, and keep adding plates all the way to 10. We would count the set with 8, 9, and 10 as work sets. You wouldn?t want to do 3 or 4 sets, then go right to 9 or 10 plates, that?s how you strain things and get injured.
The deeper you are into a workout, the less number of ?feeder? sets you?ll need. Feeder sets are just sets to get you to your working weight. So let?s say the leg press was last. Now you might be able to start with say 5 plates a side, and do one there, one with 6, and one with 7. You don?t need to do one plates, two plates, etc. Feeder sets deeper into the workout can be lower in reps too. So maybe if you are doing a hack squat, and this is last, you just do sets of 3 reps up to your working weight sets.
When I want you to go to complete failure, I will tell you so. When I want you to pyramid up, I will tell you so etc.
Bottom line, is just listen to what I say and ask questions when you need too!"