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Chad Waterbury's Sets/Reps


Has anyone here tried Chad Waterbury's recommendations for sets/reps?

Basically you pick a total amount of reps to get based on your goal:

15reps for max strength
25reps for strength/size
30reps for pure size
-the total rep amount are more detailed than this, but this is the basic idea.

then you pick your load. superheavy 2-3RM, heavy 4-6RM, medium 10-12RM, light 10-22RM.

all that matters is the load for the first set.

say you want 25 total reps with heavy weight. you get 5 reps on the first set, the amount of reps you get on the next sets doesn't matter. you basically take each set to clean failure and do as many sets as it takes to get to 25reps. you will use the same weight for all of the working sets following your warmup.

what are the advantages and disadvantages of this method?

i normally would ramp my sets and never use the same weight twice.

here are some links:






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I actually use this method (in a split routine however). Here are my advantages and disadvantages to it:


1) Total volume stays the same. If volume is a constant but the load gets progressively heavier, you increase the training load over time, which will lead to muscle growth. For example, if I curl 100 pounds for 40 total reps, that's 4000 pounds of work my biceps did. If in a month I add 15 pounds to it and now do 40 total reps with 115 pounds, that's 4600 pounds, 600 pounds more work than what I started with. With traditional sets and reps, the total reps in a workout can vary, usually going down as weight goes up.

2) Psychological relief. Knowing that the total amount of reps will stay constant, you don't have to worry about making every set life or death. While some might say that's a pussy thing to do, remember that cumulative fatigue matters more. A set doesn't have to be exhausting unless its your ONLY one (such as with HIT training). You get fatigue from the volume of work. It also goes in line with the law of repeated efforts.

3)Another progression method. Because you're using total reps instead of a traditional set/rep scheme, you now have another way to progress. if you can't use more load or even do more reps come next workout, you can at least try to do get to your total reps in less sets (density progression).


1) This is not really a disadvantage as it is an observation. Many others have gotten bigger from using traditional sets and reps. They have done it for many years without "totaling reps" so simply, its not necessary.

2) Unpredictable workout time. If it happens to be a workout that requires 25 total reps with a 4-6 RM, one day it might take 5 sets while another day it might take you 7. Because of that, your workouts can be longer on some days. With a specific set/rep scheme, total sets remain constant, so there is really no unpredictability in regards to workout length.

3) Using the same weight for every set. This is pretty self explanatory. Using the same weight for every set can cause injuries over time.

All in all, I find this method works well if you're using a select few exercises per workout. But if you're using a more bodybuilding type split with 3-4 exercises per muscle group, I would use a more traditional set/rep scheme.


yea...I've only been using this method for about 2 weeks and I like the fact that I don't have to worry about missing a lift.

Like I said before, I have always ramped my sets and stumbled across Waterbury's article about totaling reps and it made sense to me.

I may keep doing this for a few more weeks to see how I like it. Then make a decision whether to keep it or go back to pyramiding.




Tried it while I was doing his Quattro Dynamo workout a few years back. For me I would say that the total rep range for hypertrophy is too high, anything above 25 reps per movement plane had me burned out in no time. Also tried the 8x3 concept for three weekly sessions and got more or less the same result (burnout that is).

I've found that something like 15-18 reps is just about right for me but I do full-body workouts 3-4 days a week so for anyone doing a split 15-18 would probably be on the low end. I would like to say that apart from the total rep range Quattro Dynamo got me some great results.

I've always been a "hardgainer" (my problem is getting enough clean calories and enough rest and I know it so basically I'm an "under-eater" rather than a hardgainer) and that workout was the only one where I got results that people actually noticed. I've always been in good shape but you probably wouldn't have guessed I hoisted iron unless I took my shirt off, but 5 weeks of that program and I got a lot of the "been pumping iron?" questions for the first time in my life. Sadly I haven't been able to fit that kind of volume into my life since then.


i don't do full body workouts...never will

i'm not even talking about outlined set/rep ranges. i'm talking about his rep total method.


i know that the vast majority, if not ALL really big guys got big using traditional set/rep schemes. This method just caught my attention as I am always looking for a better way to get the job done.


That's what I was talking about, that's why I wrote TOTAL REP RANGE.


Yep, many here have tried many of his methods. Not sure how familiar you are with this place, as it says you joined in just the last couple weeks, but Waterbury has been around this site for at least 5 or 6 years I think? Long before he had any books out or was known anywhere nationally outside of this site. And many of us have tried many of his methods since he first came on the scene.

The total reps method isn't "his" per se (which you probly already knew), I've been using it in context of a Westside routine for years before he came up with it. Also, something similar for olympic lifts based on frequency has been around for a few decades, and I've used that. Handy method for assistance work on GHRs and stuff like that. Not sure I'd ever want to use it for a max lift or heavy stuff though. That is too dependent on how I feel that day. I already have targets for max number of lifts in a percentage zone anyway (from a modified Prilepin's table) for the big 3 and analogues.

As far as the total reps go, I think his suggestion for 15 reps is significantly high on the max strength zone, unless you're only training a lift 2x a week. For higher frequency I never go above 12 on really really good days, and usually stay below 10 most days.

I think his rec's for size are too low actually, though it depends on your training frequency as with everything else. For whole body workouts done 3-4 times weekly, probably about right, and I'm using a close target rep # for my recovery plan right now because I'm using whole body workouts. For Upper/lower splits though, or anything more split-up, too low. Much too low.

One of the big things I don't like about Waterbury is that he tends to undercut the amount of volume necessary in a split routine. This is usually because he's a "whole body" or upper/lower split guy. he hates bp splits. If I only did 50 total reps on leg day between 2 exercises I'd never get stronger because I'd be missing the assistance work I need. If you multiply that by 2, then that's about right, give or take my training periodization. And I do that 2x a week (normally, not now).


yea..i'm not talking about the volume he recommends. i know how many exercises and sets I need to grow.

I'm just talking about the whole total rep thing and using the same weight for every set while not caring about how many sets it takes to get to your total.

The reason that I DO like this method is because I am assured that I will be getting the same volume EVERY time i train that muscle.


I've been doing MRT program (15 total reps for strength, 25 for functional hypertrophy, 50 for endurance) and 25 Method (only 5RM loads).


-bigger load (25 reps with 5RM instead of 25 with 6-7RM on a Starr/Madcow template);

  • good conditioning effect (short rest periods);

  • safety: you stop a set once form deteriorate (no "grinding");

  • no big DOMS


  • once you get relatively strong (squat 5RM=2xbw), TBT are very draining;

I'd say that such a program suits better athletes than BBers, although (in my case) the 25 Method it's been very good after a two months layoff from training.


Gotcha. Well, yes I like the method. Mostly as a means to use for accessory work instead of my main lifts though. I have used it in the past during higher frequency training when the reps were less, but outside of that, I don't like it for max strength movements.


I make it a point to never accept weight lifting advice from someone I'd almost go gay for. CW is just too good looking. Strength and Muscle coaches should be ugly as piss. CW looks like he should be on Days of Our Lives (sorry CW!)

Seriously though...try it. If it works it works, if it doesn't it doesn't. Ain't no magic in pain and discomfort. If you can sweat like a fat kid in line for seconds at the lunch line while lifting nothing but bi's and tri's you've got good intensity. Intensity trumps program specs.


i'm not looking to do full body workouts. i'm only talking about using this set/rep method.