T Nation

Back Off Sets


Lately on the big lifts I am working up to a RM anywhere between a 1RM and 10Rm based on how I feel that day.

Then to get more volume in to build the lift I do some back off sets.

What rep ranges/volume do you guys like for the back off sets?

I usually go anywhere from 5-10 reps more multiple sets with less weight.

Do you think doing a 5x5 with 70%+ 1RM would lead to some more strength gains than doing a 5x10?


My favorite is to drop 10-20% and do a cluster set. Other than that, doubles or triples normally. Though, if have a lot of time, I'll drop down a bit and do just singles for as many as 10 total reps.

As for your question, that would depend on you. To me, both of those sound like too much volume if you are doing the lift every day. But, if you can recover from it...


I like to work up to my heaviest set, failing between 5-10 reps somewhere.

Then, drop 10-15% from that weight and go to failure again... drop another 10% and go to failure.... and drop 10% more from that and go to failure again.

So a main set then 3 back-off sets. I don't count the reps on anything except my main set.


I like to kind of separate my drop sets from my main lifts of the day, so for example I do 5x5 with whatever weight. I will pick a weight and either try to hit it for max reps, or multiple pauses or with a variation. (like high bar or conv if I pull sumo, or close/wide grip bench) It just depends what kind of progression you are trying to do. I try not to do a ton of drop sets because by then my work is already done, there comes a point when you are just fucking around.


One method I liked and gave me good results was using two seperate double progressons of 3-5 and 6-10, doing 3 sets of each. Sometimes I would hit a variation for the 3x10 work like front squats or dumbell presses.


Are people here doing multiple failure sets and 5x5 type volume daily? What frequencies are people talking about?


Get stronger on your main work out.
5x5 is an excellent stand alone work out for strength.
5x10 is more hypertrophy (think 5/3/1 with BBB)

Nothing wrong with add ons, I just don't think you are getting the jist of them. Wendler once said that he regrets talking about Jokers. Not for the results, but for the way people were adding them to every work outs.

Add ons are just that, something you MIGHT add after your work out. Most well thought out programs do not leave much in the tank for "added" strength.

My suggestion would be to concentrate more on your main work out then going on "how you feel" to get more strength gains.


I do this, it's my favorite style of lifting. Work up to a rep PR, then do 2 sets after, dropping 10-20% each time. Or I'll just drop down and hit a 3x5, 5x7, 3x10, etc and try to hit a volume PR. I've always just called it reverse pyramiding