T Nation

Auto-Regulating Lats/Bis


I didn't see any clear outline anywhere, so maybe some of you guys who have read the Livespills more closely can answer this.

The heavy 3-5 work is auto-regulated by ramping up loads until you hit your daily max, but what about lat and bicep work in the 6-12 range? I see workouts listed as several exercises of 4 sets 8-10 reps - are these constant load sets, is the load ramped up or dropped to stay in the rep range, or something else?


Any rep ranges higher than 5 aren't worth ramping. The whole purpose of ramping is to activate then potentiate the CNS prior to stimulating it with heavier loads and/or thresholds. This simply won't work when attempting to "ramp" with higher rep ranges. The effects of fatigue when performing the higher reps outweigh the positive stimulation aspects on the nervous system.

If you want to get in the zone prior to performing lat/biceps exercises (which respond better to those higher rep ranges), your best bet is to either:

(1) Do some ballistic resistance band work or
(2) Do some explosive OL-based movement from the hang position.

(for biceps, one or two sets of drop-catch-lifts with a light barbell should do the trick (biceps flexed entire time as when performing constant tension curls) if you're only working on arms, for example)

What works really well for me is when I begin my entire lats/biceps workout with the following superset:

A1. 45-degree torso pulldowns to face with triangle grip attachment . . . Thibs highlighted this exercise here: http://www.T-Nation.com/strength-training-topics/418
A2. Power High Pulls (T-Nation YouTube video clip demo below)

Hope this explanation helps!



It's been mentioned in the past that CT intends for weights to be increased across sets when he writes "4 sets of 8-12".

While not CT, I prefer to use an autoregulatory heuristic in loading my assistance exercises. As follows:

1- "work up" to a starting weight using 1-2 "feel sets" that are light enough that no real fatigue is incurred, even with higher reps.
2- starting "working weight" is one that falls at the top of my target rep range with 2 or 3 reps left in the tank (RPE of 7-8). For 8-12, this would be a set of 11-12
3- add weight for the second set and leave 2-3 reps in the tank (RPE of 7-8 again)
4- if the last set fell at or above the mid point of the rep range (10 reps for this example), then I'll add more weight and repeat step 3 on the third set and re-evaluate before the fourth set. If it fell below the mid point of the rep range (8 or 9 for this example, I'll complete the rest of the prescribed sets at an RPE of 8-9 (2-3 reps left in the tank) using the same weight.

Blad, I know I've seen you posting on Mike T's forum so I'm certain you're familiar with his RPE system. Hopefully this was useful for you.


Yup, got the activation part. I assume it's a straight set approach then, just go straight to the working weight and do 4 sets with the same load - or gradually reduce it to stay within the same rep range?

My way of auto-regulation uses the same load and ends the exercise if you e.g. lose 3 reps from the top set.


50kg x 12 reps
50kg x 11 reps
50kg x 11 reps
50kg x 9 reps - stop here

or on a bad day:

50kg x 12 reps
50kg x 8 reps

I think it is more important to work closer to failure on lighter loads to achieve max fiber recruitment (you already have that from the first rep on heavier loads), so I make sure to hit RPE 9 on every set, sometimes RPE 10 on the last set.


Gotcha . . . yes, once activated, go straight to working sets.

Work sets for lats/biceps consist of 8-12 reps. As long as you're able to hold that peak contraction for one or two seconds with good form for the target number of reps, you should see some nice results.

So, the only autoregulation aspect of lats/biceps training is really just knowing what load(s) to select to achieve that max fiber recruitment.

-If you're feeling really good, increase the weight used and shoot for more like 8-10 reps (for 5 or 6 work sets)

-On a bad day, go for the higher end of 10-12 reps with the lighter weight (for 4 or 5 work sets).