T Nation

Best Way to Improve Work Capacity?

Need some advice.

I’m a beginner and have very poor work capacity. By this I mean I am unable to sustain my strength levels over multiple sets.

So when my routine calls for, example, 3x10 on the bench press with my 10RM for all sets (not ramping up weights) I’m likely to get 10 reps on the first set, 7 reps on the second set, and 6 reps on my third set.

I rest 2 minutes between sets, but have taken as long as 3 minutes - although the extra minute doesn’t seem to make a difference in increasing reps in subsequent sets.

So my question is what’s the best way to increase my work capacity?

For the record my 10RM on the bench is 135 lbs (no laughing please). For me to get 3x10 with the same weight I would have to drop to 85 lbs (I’ve actually tried and that was my max weight).

I don’t know if I should simply use the extra light weights (ie 85 lbs) and get all my reps, use my real 10 RM and sacrifice reps, or maybe start with my 10RM and strip off weight with every set? Or should I just be doing general conditioning outside of the gym? :-/

Final note - the drop off is like that for any body part - not just the bench press.

Thanks

Well you can do one of a few things: stay a the same weight and focus of trying to bring up the reps on the other set until you can get to 10, back the weight off till you can do the three sets and then increase the weight slowly, or you can take more rest (maybe 5 minutes). You could also be having issues with your form.

[quote]PressingMatter wrote:
Need some advice.

I’m a beginner and have very poor work capacity. By this I mean I am unable to sustain my strength levels over multiple sets.

So when my routine calls for, example, 3x10 on the bench press with my 10RM for all sets (not ramping up weights) I’m likely to get 10 reps on the first set, 7 reps on the second set, and 6 reps on my third set.

I rest 2 minutes between sets, but have taken as long as 3 minutes - although the extra minute doesn’t seem to make a difference in increasing reps in subsequent sets.

So my question is what’s the best way to increase my work capacity?

For the record my 10RM on the bench is 135 lbs (no laughing please). For me to get 3x10 with the same weight I would have to drop to 85 lbs (I’ve actually tried and that was my max weight).

I don’t know if I should simply use the extra light weights (ie 85 lbs) and get all my reps, use my real 10 RM and sacrifice reps, or maybe start with my 10RM and strip off weight with every set? Or should I just be doing general conditioning outside of the gym? :-/

Final note - the drop off is like that for any body part - not just the bench press.

Thanks

[/quote]

I don’t know anyone who can hit their 10 rep max 3 times in a row. I’ve also never heard of a program that tells you to.

If I hit a 10 rep max on the bench, I can barely move my arms afterward.

If you do an intense set, like a 10 rep max, your performance will decrease on subsequent sets.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:

I don’t know anyone who can hit their 10 rep max 3 times in a row. I’ve also never heard of a program that tells you to.

If I hit a 10 rep max on the bench, I can barely move my arms afterward.

If you do an intense set, like a 10 rep max, your performance will decrease on subsequent sets.[/quote]
I’ll second this. What you are describing seems normal to me. You will always be able to do more once than you can do three times in a row.

You definitely don’t want to reduce weight. You should either stick at this weight and try to get more reps on the follow up sets or just increase the weight and try to get the same/more reps.

Look into ramping your sets, I wouldnt recommend trying to hit 10rms for 3 sets its basically impossible if youre using a real 10rm

You should use a weight you can get all three sets with (as you said, 85 lbs), and make sure you are progressing as your program dictates (I.E., starting strength, 2.5-5 lbs per lift, 5x5 madcows, ye old bodybuilding split… so long as it’s a ‘proven program.’) Then you should eat. If you happen to be under weight or skinny, then you should very likely eat twice the amount of food that you currently believe to be gut-busting.

All of this advice relies entirely on the assumption that you are following a routine that is intelligently designed by someone else (I’d suggest going back and re-reading the program as well, as things like this are usually covered). If not, then re-evaluate how you’re approaching your lifting.

Be smart, don’t sweat the small stuff.

escalating density training. i create my own version which i won’t describe here–go with Charles Staley’s method to the t. he’s somewhat more reputable than I

Thanks guys, for your input.

After reading your comments I suspect I misinterpreted the program prescription of 3 working sets of 10 reps (excluding warm ups) for understanding it to mean “use your 10RM”. With that being said I’m going to opt for 3 sets of 10 with 85 lbs - even if that option makes me look like a huge pussy in the gym.

[quote]PressingMatter wrote:
Thanks guys, for your input.

After reading your comments I suspect I misinterpreted the program prescription of 3 working sets of 10 reps (excluding warm ups) for understanding it to mean “use your 10RM”. With that being said I’m going to opt for 3 sets of 10 with 85 lbs - even if that option makes me look like a huge pussy in the gym.
[/quote]

It’s a starting point. We all have to start somewhere.

In not too long… as long as you’re following your program, and eating enough calories and protein to be gaining weight… you’ll be lifting quite a bit more than that.

What you don’t want to to is start cheating on your ROM because you’re afraid of looking like a pussy. As long as you do it right, you WILL get stronger.

Hard people do hard things.

OP: What program are you on kid?

tweet

I would look into a 5x5 if your strength is that low, to help bring up your overall strength first and you’ll gain size off it too.

My 2c.

[quote]PressingMatter wrote:
Need some advice.

I’m a beginner and have very poor work capacity. By this I mean I am unable to sustain my strength levels over multiple sets.

So when my routine calls for, example, 3x10 on the bench press with my 10RM for all sets (not ramping up weights) I’m likely to get 10 reps on the first set, 7 reps on the second set, and 6 reps on my third set.

[/quote]

You don’t have poor work capacity. You’re hitting failure on the first set so less reps in the later sets reflects a reduction in strength. That’s normal.

[quote]roybot wrote:

[quote]PressingMatter wrote:
Need some advice.

I’m a beginner and have very poor work capacity. By this I mean I am unable to sustain my strength levels over multiple sets.

So when my routine calls for, example, 3x10 on the bench press with my 10RM for all sets (not ramping up weights) I’m likely to get 10 reps on the first set, 7 reps on the second set, and 6 reps on my third set.

[/quote]

You don’t have poor work capacity. You’re hitting failure on the first set so less reps in the later sets reflects a reduction in strength. That’s normal. [/quote]

that is normal, however, beginner usually means poor work capacity. usually.

[quote]cubuff2028 wrote:

[quote]roybot wrote:

[quote]PressingMatter wrote:
Need some advice.

I’m a beginner and have very poor work capacity. By this I mean I am unable to sustain my strength levels over multiple sets.

So when my routine calls for, example, 3x10 on the bench press with my 10RM for all sets (not ramping up weights) I’m likely to get 10 reps on the first set, 7 reps on the second set, and 6 reps on my third set.

[/quote]

You don’t have poor work capacity. You’re hitting failure on the first set so less reps in the later sets reflects a reduction in strength. That’s normal. [/quote]

that is normal, however, beginner usually means poor work capacity. usually. [/quote]

Let’s not put the cart before the horse. He looked up work capacity and tried to extend his rest periods to hit all three sets without the work capacity to do it.

[quote]PressingMatter wrote:
Thanks guys, for your input.

After reading your comments I suspect I misinterpreted the program prescription of 3 working sets of 10 reps (excluding warm ups) for understanding it to mean “use your 10RM”. With that being said I’m going to opt for 3 sets of 10 with 85 lbs - even if that option makes me look like a huge pussy in the gym.
[/quote]

Other option is you could do 3x7 at 135 instead of 3x10, and work on adding a rep to your sets every workout (eg: week 1: 3x7, week 2: 3x8, week 3: 3x9, week 4: 3x10). This would give you more strength and also help you add your work capacity gradually. Also it would help save your ego :). I believe in general heavier is better (within reason).

You can never hit a true 10 RM 3 times in a row. You have three choices essentially: 1) lower the weight to get the reps in 2) lower the reps to keep the weight 3) lengthen rest periods. #3 isn’t working for you. I suppose you could throw in a #4 and say keep your 10RM and try to add a rep to your 2nd or 3rd set every week until you can do 3x10. But right now I think your best bet is #2. I would be inclined to say something different if the drop off had been something like 10 reps, 4-5 reps, 3-4 reps, but what you describe is more or less normal.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
PressingMatter wrote:
Thanks guys, for your input.

After reading your comments I suspect I misinterpreted the program prescription of 3 working sets of 10 reps (excluding warm ups) for understanding it to mean “use your 10RM”. With that being said I’m going to opt for 3 sets of 10 with 85 lbs - even if that option makes me look like a huge pussy in the gym.

Other option is you could do 3x7 at 135 instead of 3x10, and work on adding a rep to your sets every workout (eg: week 1: 3x7, week 2: 3x8, week 3: 3x9, week 4: 3x10). This would give you more strength and also help you add your work capacity gradually. Also it would help save your ego :). I believe in general heavier is better (within reason).

You can never hit a true 10 RM 3 times in a row. You have three choices essentially: 1) lower the weight to get the reps in 2) lower the reps to keep the weight 3) lengthen rest periods. #3 isn’t working for you. I suppose you could throw in a #4 and say keep your 10RM and try to add a rep to your 2nd or 3rd set every week until you can do 3x10. But right now I think your best bet is #2. I would be inclined to say something different if the drop off had been something like 10 reps, 4-5 reps, 3-4 reps, but what you describe is more or less normal.

[/quote]

Thanks for all the options, guys.

I’ll run with one of the options for as long as I can make progress; then switch to another when I stall.

Should keep me busy for quite a while :slight_smile:

The bigger question is, why are you doing 3x10? What kind of program is this?

What’s that? You/your buddy/some dipshit trainer made it up? Well then, you should get on a proven program by someone who knows their shit.

But what program? Well, it’s your lucky day. I happen to have a list of programs compiled just for you to look through:

Starting Strength
Texas Method
Madcow Intermediate
5/3/1
Juggernaut method
WS4SB

On a serious note, read those programs, pick one, and perform it exactly as written. It is much better then whatever you are currently doing.

[quote]Chris87 wrote:
The bigger question is, why are you doing 3x10? What kind of program is this?

What’s that? You/your buddy/some dipshit trainer made it up? Well then, you should get on a proven program by someone who knows their shit.

But what program? Well, it’s your lucky day. I happen to have a list of programs compiled just for you to look through:

Starting Strength
Texas Method
Madcow Intermediate
5/3/1
Juggernaut method
WS4SB

On a serious note, read those programs, pick one, and perform it exactly as written. It is much better then whatever you are currently doing.[/quote]

Thanks - I’ll keep those routines in mind if ever my progress stalls on my current program.

[quote]Chris87 wrote:
The bigger question is, why are you doing 3x10? What kind of program is this?

What’s that? You/your buddy/some dipshit trainer made it up? Well then, you should get on a proven program by someone who knows their shit.

But what program? Well, it’s your lucky day. I happen to have a list of programs compiled just for you to look through:

Starting Strength
Texas Method
Madcow Intermediate
5/3/1
Juggernaut method
WS4SB

On a serious note, read those programs, pick one, and perform it exactly as written. It is much better then whatever you are currently doing.[/quote]

Posts like this are very bothersome, especially since I suspect you are actually serious. There are so many programs out there, ones written by the authors on this site even. Just search the archives. And I guarantee 3x10 has been a part of the programming of any successful BBer or PLer who contributes to this site at some point in their training. It’s a completely legit set up and it’s not retarded just because it doesn’t fit into the 3 programs everyone and their mother seems to think everyone and their mother has to be doing just because they did it and saw some results. Those are excellent programs you listed, but that list could be 100 times longer. Don’t be so close minded. It’s also a little bit arrogant to assume it was written by a “dipshit trainer” or whatever just because it doesn’t fit YOUR view of what a good program should be for whatever reason.

P.S. Why don’t you go by KingBeef’s “Do this routine” thread which has helped alot of members on this site and post “What? What is this shit? 4 sets of 8 with last set to failure? 3 sets of 15!!??? That’s not starting strength!” I will enjoy the lulz.