T Nation

Finishing Heavy vs. Feeder Sets


I'm just curious how to apply these two pieces of information.

On the other hand, in one of CW's excellent articles (don't remember which one), I remember him stating that muscles seem to remember the last set used, and so finishing with your heaviest weight helps to "set" that weight for muscle growth.

Is the seeming contradiction here maybe to do with the absolute force (weight & effort) used? The fact that feeder sets are so much lighter that maybe they don't trigger this mechanism?

Clues appreciated!


I'm curious about this too. I've used feeder sets before and like them. But I've also heard about 'muscle memory' in this context and benefits of it. This is one of the reasons pyramids-starting light, going progressively heavier, and going finishing progressively lighter, have been criticized


Curious as well ...

The two methods work totally differently. Using dumb engineering type analogies:

CT's is "mechanical" - aims to physically get more blood into the muscle and enhance blood flow capacity and recovery

CW's is "electrical" - aims to neurally load the muscle to improve recruitment and max effort ability

[extremely dumbed downed analogs] But, one could likely get nice results by cycling or rotating these, as obviously they can not be done concurrently. Perhaps high intensity sessions (ie. 10x3) with feeder sets and lesser intensity sessions (ie 5x10) with CW's thang.



Well, assuming the 50% with higher reps invoked a totally different response, then one could use these concurrently. The last regular set would be heavy. The feeder set would then invoke a different response, not compromising the heavy set.

Just theorizing. I have no idea if it works that way.


I'm just a dumb powerlifter but I thought I'd chime in.
I bench according to a routine by Paul Bossi called the "reverse pyramid" it would go something like this:

20xbar, 10x95, 5x135, 5x185, 3x225, 1x255, 1x275, 3x285
then 3x8-10x225
and 1x8-10x205 paused

I've done this for squats and deadlifts too and it works well, focusing on both hypertrophy and maximal strength.


... yeah ... but you only get ONE last set.


I think maybe you guys are over thinking this. I usually will blast out 100 reps of light band pushdowns in 3 or 4 sets after my ME bench or 100 push ups in that same fashion. I also might drag the sled for a few trips after a DE or ME lower workout or even do upper body work with the sled after a ME or DE upper day. Just do something immediately after training or , a few hours later or, even the next day to get some good blood flow into your muscles to help them recover. It's not rocket surgery.


Joebob, I agree. The point is, I am curious about details here. Pondering this question didn't prevent me from lifting today. Rather, it's just an effort to expand my knowledge base.

However, I also agree that just getting the blood flowing, maybe even a day later, is good advice. Hence CW's 100-reps article.

Maybe it need be no more complicated than that. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not still curious to see what these two great minds have to say about this subject.


I always do lighter work after my heavy or DE sets, but NEVER on the same exercise in the same workout. If you bench heavy, do your higher reps with

A) Reverse band rows
B) Palms facing decline dumbell presses
C) Seated dumbell cleans

Only push the main lifts heavy or DE.

Dave Tate wrote that the research on feeder workouts shows that it works best if done 4 hours after the initial workout. At 4 hours, your muscles are congested and blood flow is constricted and the feeder work helps refresh them. He said that option #2 was to wait until the next day, however Westside lifters obviously do higher rep work after their main sets, just not on the same exercise.

1-leg squats
reverse hypers
and the three exercises mentioned for the bench, or reverse bands after a heavier upper back workout work well.


Hahahaha. Classic.

Lots of people do this kind of thing (feeder sets) without recognising it. They might do a big heavy-ass bench session, and then do lighter assistance work, such as DB press for reps of 12,15 or 20. Same theory, just with a different exercise that targets the same muscle groups.


Mertdawg and Massif, your takes on the issue make a lot of sense. Thanks for the feedback.