T Nation

High Weight, Low Rep, More Sets


I'm kind of new to strength training/weight lifting.
I started lifting to gain some muscle and strength but have found that the 3 sets of 10 reps scheme is producing very less results lately.

I was reading so much in the past few days and it suddenly dawned on me. Is it possible to stimulate maximum muscle growth by lifting heavy weights for low reps and doing this for Multiple sets?

For example:
A person can lift a certain weight (60%-70% of 1RM, say 140lb) for about 10 reps
The normal routine would have the user perform 3 sets of these 10 reps.
Total volume = 140 X 3 X 10 = 3120

What if we tweaked it a bit to make the person lift his 90%RM (210 lb) for 3-5 reps and continued doing so for 7 sets?

Total volume = 210 X 4 X 7 = 5880

Has anybody tried this scheme or anything like this before?
Would this translate to more muscle gain?

I'm about to find out starting today.
I'll keep you guys updated on my progress


What you're suggesting is far from new in the muscle building world. I don't think it's possible to lift 90% of your max of 7 sets of 3-5 though. I'd try something like 5 sets of 5, or 4 sets of 8, (at a lower percent of your max than 90%) to change up your sets and reps.


One of the big premises I really took away from Christian is that 8 good sets of 3 reps are better than 3 sets of 8 reps where the reps are less than productive (grinding, resting at lockouts etc).



Is this using the same weight for the 8x3 as the 3x8?


No, you will ramp up, start at around 60% and add weight each set.
A workout may look like this.

Set 1 - 180 x 3
Set 2 - 200 x 3
Set 3 - 220 x 3
Set 4 - 240 x 3
Set 5 - 260 x 3
Set 6 - 280 x 3
Set 7 - 300 x 3
Set 8 - 320 x 3


Beginner's question: What about Time Under Tension? It's not that important ?


It's not as important as fully stimulating your fiber 2 muscles, which have more growth potential. CT does do stuff like max rep circuits though to get some TUT, but you still have to try to be explosive.


Man, when I read Thibs' articles and text on this, it's really confusing. Not in how to perform it, but the whole premise.
I just can't understand how it actually stimulates growth. I mean, I get that it works well, and I'm obviously a newb, but how do you force your body to increase strength and mass without going to near failure? Where is the growth stimulus coming from?
As I said I have read his articles on these concepts but it is still kind of boggling my mind. It's just all so counter-intuitive.
Thoughts? Or am I understanding all this completely wrong?


There are different ways to stimulate growth. Thib's explosive reps and quick turnarounds focus on creating a situation of maximum muscular stress at a given point (thus, stimulating the adaptation/growth process). Time under Tension also has it's place, as the muscle will similarly be subject to stress, albeit less of an intense short stress, and more of a 'using the time variable' to build up to triggering the need to adapt. Don't ever think that there is just one way to do something,.. sure some methods may be more optimal (at certain times, and for certain people), but that doesn't negate possible benefits from other approaches.



I thought total Time under Tension would be even more as rather than doing 3*10 = 30 total reps,
you're doing 4*8 = 32 reps. I might be wrong though.

Anyways, thanks for all the feedback. You guys have been great. Can you please link the Thib article to the guy who referenced it?


Volume and frequency.


I like cluster sets. They allow me to use a heavy weight and still get the volume I want. There are some drawbacks to them, but the combination of explosive force and time under tension is beneficial imo. I do them at the very least every 3 weeks.


I think all rep ranges should be used during a workout. Heres my last chest workout. Not that Im anything special but my gains have been consistent and most of my training partners enjoy training this way as well.

I start off with a couple sets of pushups for a little pump. The rep range doesn't matter but I don't let my self hit failure or build up fatigue.

I hit the

BB Bench Press Ramp up with 5 rep sets
DB Bench Ramp up with 10 rep sets
DB Fly Ramp up with 10 rep sets
Cable Fly Ramp up with 15 rep sets

Pretty basic. No fancy stuff and Ive progressed really good with this approach. Dominate the weight you use, and don't train your ego.


Ah, ok, thanks guys. Makes sense.


I have not had better results than training like this.

I can't even express how I see improvements in my physique weekly. I don't even recognize myself sometimes.

My strength has jacked through the roof as wll.

On my main movements I do triples, thing is not all sets are taken to failure, similar to how AC wrote it. Other muscle groups I rotate between high rep pump work, and low rep work and I also rotate on assistance exercises too.


Austin, mind outlining what a typical session for you might look like?


Yesterday was a medium weight day, nothing taken to failure, around 80% of my 1 RM on back exercises....


225 x 2
315 x 2
405 x 1
525 x 2


x 3
x 3
85 x 3
85 x 3
85 x 3
85 x 3
85 x 3

DB Rows

85 x 3
150 x 3
150 x 3
150 x 3

Deload light squats 60-70%

135 x 3
225 x 2
315 x 2

Speed bench 50-60%

165 + 2 medium bands x 3
165 + 2 medium bands x 3
165 + 2 medium bands x 3

185 + 2 medium bands x 3
185 + 2 medium bands x 3
185 + 2 medium bands x 3

215 + 2 medium bands x 3
215 + 2 medium bands x 3
215 + 2 medium bands x 3

i will be working these same bodyparts again in 2 days, and this was yesterdays workout.