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Conjugate: How Many ME Sets?


Hi guys,

I recently started training conjugate/massthetics style and I’d like to know something.

I use to do A LOT of sets on ME day.

Today I went to a 1rm on Conv. DL with bands and it looked like this (approx.)

50kgs x 10
add bands
50 kgs x 5
80 x 5
100 x 3
120 x 3
140 x 3
150 x 1
160 x 1
170 x 1
180 fail
175 x 1
backoff sets
130 x 3 x 3

I like to do backoff sets so think I did too many steps before attempting my heaviest single.

Warming up (mobility etc… ) + getting to this 1rm almost took an hour… I don’t and I can’t do too long workouts and I don’t wanna minimize assistance work, so is only doing 6-7 total sets with warm up sets to the 1rm a problem ?
I’ve always read like ME days should be 8-12 total sets.


It can be as many sets as you need to warm up for a max attempt. There’s no hard rule.


It sounds like you are spending too much time on whatever mobility work you are doing. You can also make bigger jumps between warm up sets until you get closer to whatever you expect to hit that day.


Yeah 7 sets is ok, also consider just taking 2 min breaks between sets and then add extra min before heaviest sets. -Yeah top weight will be down for few weeks but after that you will adapt and work capcity will be slightly improved


That is a lot of sets compared to the examples I’ve seen in the literature about Westside BB.

Typically, you start with the bar and make very big jumps. Then around 50%, you start taking 10% jumps. Typically sets of 5. Then around 80%, take a triple. Single at 85%. 88-92% a single (basically a single you could hit even if you got zero sleep and haven’t eaten in many hours), then another single at 94-97%, then if you have it in you, go for 98-105% depending on how you feel.

That’s not hard set in stone and percentages are just recommendations and can change depending on how you feel, but I think it would be a good starting point. Make gradual adjustments either up or down on the warm up volume.

You’re not trying to turn your warm up into extra training volume, just waking up your nerves to be prepared to take your 3 singles in the 90ish+ percent range.

Back down sets do some people good so I’d keep it if you like it and feel like it helps. But if you’re having trouble recovering, don’t be too hesitant about removing them.

There’s my $0.02

edit: I just noticed there a fail up there. These shouldn’t happen often. Maybe once or twice every 12 weeks. You don’t get anything out of them and they eat up recovery a lot too.


This is example warmup from Dave Tate if I remember correctly. ME exersise should take about ~20min (from 0 to new PR).


That’s for your work volume. Warmups can be as many as you need. Though going past 10 warm up sets is usually a bit much but if you’re super tight or beat up maybe you need that to get the blood flowing.

Wendler likes to take working weight and go back in 10% jumps. So if Your work sets start about 170kg you’d work backwards like so: 153, 136, 119,102,85,68,51,34,17,0

That’s 10 sets. It usually works pretty well and you can do the first 3 sets or so with minimal rest.


I agree with another poster, it should usually take about 20 minutes from 0- PR. On bench and OHP I start with the bar and quarter, plate, quarter, plate my way up until I’m worked up to my top sets in which I take 3 working sets. If it’s a lift that I’ve already established a PR, I usually approach it one of two ways, for example. Say my 2" block Pull was 400lbs last time around for a 5rm and I’m going for a new 5rm. I will either calculate 5 or 10% backwards. So, say I’m using 10%. First work set would be 320lbsx5 or 80% of 400, 2nd set=360x5 or 90% of 400 and the third set would be 400+ for a new pr if I feel it’s there. I like to use drop sets to get my required optimal reps as recommended by prilepins chart. Also, people tend to brush off warm up sets as nothing more than just that. Warm up sets are an opportunity to accrue alot more quality volume and hone your technique, rather than just jumping the gun and rush to get to your work sets. Brandon Lilly had stated that Chuck Vogelpohl mentioned this to him. At the same time you don’t want to nickel and dime yourself up to your work sets. As for rest time between warm up sets, you should be able to jump in on your next set as quickly as you can load the bar for your next set and do a set of band pull aparts, dynamic stretching, etc. Look at your warm ups as an opportunity to hone technique and increase work capacity.


Thanks for all your answers I guess I did too much warm up sets and took too much rest time. I must stop thinking 3 reps = 2-3min rest I guess I could have gone quicker.

I don’t know why but I felt “afraid” to do big jumps and I don’t really know why since I get a PR and my backoff sets, volume should be ok.


Too many warmups IMO.

If I was shooting for a PR of 405 lbs, I’d proceed as follows:

135 x 8
225 x 3
315 x 1
365 x 1
385 x 1
405 x 1 PR - stop

No reason to do the downsets. This is not a volume workout


I train with a guy who trained there for two years. We train conjugate. There is no hard / fast rule no matter what you’ve read. The point on ME day is to strain. The point is to work hard. It’s never been about sets or reps. Go the heaviest you can that day. They do ME doubles, triples, fives; its not just singles. The guys I train with switch exercises every week. I don’t.

We have some who consistently miss lifts for the point of straining. I don’t fall into that camp personally. I don’t like to miss. I don’t go beyond. That’s how guys get hurt if it’s done consistently.

Just strain and work hard on that day.


Check out Jim Wendler’s “The Max Effort”.

I think it’s one of if not the best book on the subject of ME lifting within the context of Westside BB style training.


I’m checking it right now, thank you !


I was training with Dave Tate a few months ago ( okay he was squatting and we were spotting, loading, running the mono, we had done bench earlier ) and he was supposed to be working up to a spider bar single for his ME work.

Now he felt like shit so after we had put a certain weight on he smashes a single, then says “another”, smashes that and goes “another” grinds that pissboy out and racks it.

After he gets out from under the bar he goes “now that’s how you do Max Effort”. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to go up after hitting that first single, so he turned it into a Triple ME day.


He finally did 3 heavy Singles right?

I think I should reconsider it and not exactly following a rule…
just doing a MAX effort considering the form of the day, the only rule would finally be : grind that last rep


Yes he ended up doing a total of 3 reps.