T Nation

Clarifications on WS4SB


Hello everyone.
I've been lurking for a long time and figured it's time to finally join the forum.
I'm not completely new to weight training, though in your standards I guess I probably am.
I've trained on and off for the past year or so and haven't seen much gains, mainly the result of a poor diet and inconsistency in training, but hey I'm here to change that :slight_smile:

WS4SB seems like a great routine but it's missing alot of details in DeFranco's site and I was hoping some of you guys could help clarify. So here goes:

  1. My max bench is completely pathetic, though I've never tested it, an online calculator predicts something around 135lbs. How would one work up to a max effort lift with strength levels that low? I'm aiming for a 5rm so that should be around 100-105 lbs.
    A general explanation of how to work up for a max lift (percentages of target weight in each set, amount of sets, just how hard should the warm up sets be if at all, rest periods between sets) would be really nice.

  2. There's a slightly different rep range for each lift and I'm not sure what the numbers mean. if for example I'm instructed to do 3 sets of incline dumbbell bench press of 6-10 reps, does that mean I should pick a weight I can do for a maximum of 10 reps for the first set, and use the same weight in the other sets simply making sure the reps don't go below 6? If I can't I can't complete the required reps should I lower the weight on the current set? inital weight? I'm confused. ;[
    Should I be reaching failure on any of the sets?

  3. There is no mentioning of rest periods except for the first exercise in the repetition day. What would be appropriate rest times for each exercise/rep range?

  4. When do I increase the loads? When I can complete more reps than perscribed in the first set? When I can complete the top of the rep range in the last set?
    I'm clueless.

Thanks a bunch to anyone who finds the time to help me out a little ;]


Start with the bar, crank out 3-5 reps, add 10lbs, and repeat. Do this untill you can no longer perform 3-5 reps, then drop the reps to 1, and continue adding weight in incraments of 5 and 10lbs.

Yes. The most reps you should perform are 10, and the lowest(or heaviest weight) you can use is 6.

If you can't complete the minimal amount of reps, then lower the weight untill you can. You should be reaching momentarily muscle failure. Meaning the last rep should be tough as shit.

60-120 seconds should be fine for each exercise.

Yep. If you can crank out more than the maximal amount of reps, add weight. Strive to increase the load as often as possible.


Does that mean I should use a weight that would cause me to fail on the 11th rep on the very first set, or should the first set be less than an all-out effort?

Can't complete the minimal amount of reps on a certain set, should I lower the weight only for that particular set or for all the 4/3 sets next time I'll be doing the exercise?

Crank out the maximal amount of reps on the FINAL set, or on the first set? Meaning, only increase the weight once I can get 10 reps on ALL 3/4 sets, or as soon as I can get more than 10 on the first set?

Thank you for your time :slight_smile:


yes, never go to complete failure, only go to failure on the rep upper day.

For all the sets. Ex. say you could do a weight for 12 reps. do that for 3 sets of 8.

don't increase the weight after your max lift.

How old are you?
Do you play any sports?


I'm 18 years old and don't play any sports. I'm going to be taking Taekwondo as a university course so that makes an hour long session each week. I guess that could be counted as an extra leg day...

Perhaps I'm not getting something here but you seem to have contradicted yourself - in reply to my question wether the first set should be almost an all out effort (10 reps out of 11 I can pull off) you said that's exactly the way to go, yet after that you said I should take a weight I can lift for 12 times and lift it for 3x8... I'm confused ;[

Also, you said I should "go to failure on the rep upper day". Does that mean on every set or only on the last set of each exercise?

The only difference I see in the program between the ME and RE day is that the ME day includes a very low rep lift and the rep ranges are generally lower, plus no isolation work. Isn't not going to failure kind of missing the point of a maximal effort day?


on your repition upper day..for example you're doing bench press, figure out what your 60% 1RM is and do that until you can't do it anymore. i believe that is what he means by "max reps"



Please don't take this in the wrong way, but I think that WSB4SB is too much for you at the moment. Start with a more simpler routine, something like this:

Day A
1. Squat
2. Bench
3. Row

Day B
1. Deadlift
2. Push Press or Military Press
3. Pulldown

Alternate A and B 3x a week, Monday - A, Wednesday - B etc.

Start with 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps. Pick a weight with which you can do 4x8 in a first two workouts, then keep adding a little every time until you end up with about 3x5 after 4-5 weeks, but with much more weight. Take a week off and repeat, but hopefully with 15-20 lbs more on your 4x8 workouts.

Stay with this for 3 months, and then switch to WSB4SB. You'll have much better base for it and much better idea of what weights you'll have to use.