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Best Rep Schemes


is 85% of max 3x2 bettwr than 1x5???or even 90% for benching....


There is no "best" or "better" rep scheme. These all fit together into a comprehensive plan. If you just randomly slap together reps and sets, you reap what you sew.


Nobody tell him the secret 2x3 rep scheme that beats both 3x2 and 1x5


Go through a bunch of different schemes over the course of the year...



Everyone's results will vary but there is a standard % / rep / set protocol that's been tested and proven with hundreds if not thousands of weightlifters. It's called Prilepin's chart.


i remember watching dan john's intervention video. he states that all great strength programs have something in common. that the main lift you do 15-25 reps for the workout. what rep scheme you use is up to you. just use the setup that you will try the hardest on.


This 15-25 reps per workout is a pretty useless generalization, and just not true. Good luck doing 15-25 working reps on any kind of max effort workout, the staple of several "great strength programs."


I feel like the warm-up reps would take care of that. I know Dave Tate always said those were vital for building up volume.


Agreed you'll be more than hitting 15-25 reps if you're counting warm up sets. But when do we start counting... all warm-ups, when they're semi-heavy?

I guess my point is the "ideal" number of reps is dependent upon many things, intensity being chief among them. I don't care if it's 5-3-1, westside, sheiko, smolov, whatever, the ideal number of working reps is not always going to be 15-25, and will often be outside of that range.

Take westside for example. On a ME day you may just work up to a 1RM and all that matters is the 3-4 lifts above 90%, or it could be a ME day during an accumulation block when you're doing heavy triples, and now you are doing 15 or so reps. Same with DE day -- it could be about 24 working speed squats, but it could also be 40-50 reps if the main movement on that DE day is focused instead on lactic tolerance training.

There is no "ideal" number of reps, or magic sets x reps combo. If OP is asking this kind of question, the best approach is probably to pick one of the handful of programs with which many posters have seen great gains, read an article or a thread on here that explains it, and try to follow that program as best he can.


Think it was Charles Staley that wrote about the 3-5 program. That's 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps 3-5 days a week. Have recently incorporated that for my big lifts, and program assistance work around that. So far, so good.


Widowmakers on everything until you die.


Pavel Tsastouline was also big on the 3-5 program. Was like THE program for me. Really turned my lifting around.


I'll use this to discuss my findings.

In my experience you need not and should not do your set rep scheme anywhere near your maximum capacity MOST of the time.

What I mean by that is that let's say you can do 5 x 3 with 300 pounds in the bench press with an all out effort, you might very well be able to get stronger just as fast by doing 5 x 3 at 240-270! or about 80-90% of your capacity (although your ability to train more frequently would go up.

It was a hard adjustment for me to make, and its kind of difficult to accept. If I could max 360, and do 5 x 3 at 300, I am suggesting that you could match the strength gains from the 5 x 3 at 300 by doing 5 x 3 at 240 to 270 which is only 67% to 75% of your 1 rep max. Training heavier causes more damage, and more stress and does not necessarily build strength faster.

And I am not talking about speed reps.

Another thing, I have found that doing 3-5 reps works BETTER than doing 1-2 reps with more weight. For the bench, my ideal rep range is 3-7 reps. Fewer than 3 and more than 7 does not work well. In the squat it is 2-5.

I tend to agree though, 10-30 reps is the basic range that has worked for me overall.

I like to start with all work sets at the same weight, but to gradually space them out.

So back to the 360 bench, who "could" do 300 x 5 x 3.

Let's start at 255 for 5 x 3.

Then go to 240 x 3, 250 x 3, 260 x 3 x 3
Then 235 x 3, 245 x 3, 255 x 3, 265 x 2 x 3
Then maybe 225 x 3, 240 x 3, 255 x 3, 270 x 2 x 3
Typically try to use even jumps and get at least 2 sets at top weight.

Lastly, I said stay at 80-90% maximum capacity MOST of the time. At least half.

Either do an all out workout, 300 x 5 x 3 in the example, and then do your next workout at 80-90% of that (240-270 x 5 x 3) OR spend about 2 weeks on full bore, and 2 weeks on 80-90% capacity. I have increased my max though by training around 80-90% of capacity in a given set rep scheme exclusively for 2-3 months straight.


there is more to strength training than just single or double max effort work. if you dont know that then you have a lot more to learn.

as for something one of the great strength coaches says, well that is pretty bold to state they are wrong. especially when their experience is far greater than many of us combined in here.


are you just trying to take one part of an overall program and argue just to argue? you are trying to compare something minute with a general idea.if you use your own examples of 5/3/1, shieko, and even throw in starting strength, bill stars 5x5, you see some of the greatest strength programs around. they have a basis of the work being in the 15-25 total rep range for strength work.

sure you can find a portion of a program that may fall outside of that but what does that mean? nothing in the grand scheme. it proves nothing and does not move forward the thread.

and before you try and pick apart a minute part that does not move forward the discussion, i am not saying that ME work doing singles will not work. i am not saying that DE work and RE work with upwards of 50 reps do not work. what i am saying is that if you were to look at a range of working reps you will find an optimal range of 15-25 reps. any more or less and you lose the advantage of gaining mass, strength, and work capacity over just improving one specific part of strength which does not apply to this topic.


Yeah, not entirely sure I'm doing it right (only using it for "big" lifts and higher reps for accessory) but so far it's been great. You got a link for Pavel's take, or care to share how you did it?


No link from Pavel, I only know it from his book "Beyond Bodybuilding"


That's awesome, dude. Thanks.


For a write up on the program:

The basic premise is to take 3-5 movements, train them for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps with 3-5 minutes of rest between sets, train the same movements no more than every 3-5 days.

You can pick 2 different groups of 3-5 movements and switch off every training day if you wanna train 3 days a week.

For example:

Day A:

Day B:
Overhead press
Bent over row

Basically, pick a lower body movement, a horizontal push and a vertical pull one day, and then vise versa for the other day. You can throw in some beach work if you want, or do some heavy grip and neck work for your other 2 movements, or just keep it at those 3.

Start with a weight you can do for 3-5 reps on the first set, and then for the other sets, do as much weight as you can. The first day it might look something like:


For a total of 18 reps. The next time you train the movement, try for at least 1 more total rep.

Every 3rd week, deload for 2 workouts by only using 70% of the volume and keeping the weight the same.


I would argue that the 15-25 is where you build your strength and max effort type exercises are more for peaking your strength.