How to Keep Tight on the Bench Press?

I am having trouble so I will show my general routine on chest training first before I explain my problem
3 sets of 45 x 20
3 sets of 95 x 10
3 sets of 135 x 8-10
All of the above have 1 min rest between sets
Then i move into a little higher 3x3’s which can range from 185x3 on a bad day to 215x3 on a good day. These are done with about 2min30sec rest
What happens is i usually use the first 9 sets to burn out my type 1 fibers since i read something about that and am still fairly new to the concept. The first 7 or so sets are usually slow and controlled so i can remember the form. Somewhere in the middle of my 8th set or so is when i feel the best where everything feels nice and tight throughout my entire body and my pump feels good which usually carries on to my 9th set. I kind of go explosive and speed press on the last two sets before moving onto my 3x3’s. But the moment i jump into my 3x3’s i feel loose. I can kind of feel the adrenaline and warm feeling pump leave me while i rest the 2min30sec time and my body feels loose/shaky and sort of chilled on the inside. It makes a noticable difference on how tight i feel like i can’t even feel tight no matter if i follow the same cues i always do. Would you recommend that i either shorten my rest time even though i train 3x3’s for strength or decrease the amount of sets during my warming up. If my routine just seems stupid then feel free to input your own routine which i can look at and learn from.

That’s B.S. First of all your type 1 (slow twitch) fibers wont “burn out” from sets of 10… they are made to be able to run a marathon for hours. All you are accomplishing is decreasing your capacity to perform on your sets of 3. And When you reach “failure” or close to it, all of your fibers (those that are recruitable) have done some work… so the “fatigue” you think affects the Type 1 fibers really affect the Type II since Type 1 are fatigue resistant.

Here’s the thing.as soon as the weight is 80% OF WHAT YOU CAN LIFT AT THE MOMENT all of the fibers you can recruit will be recruited.

That doesn’t mean that a set using 65-70% (which is likely what you are using for your work sets of 10) only recruit the Type 1 since you are below 80%.

Here’s what happens… on each rep you get more fatigued, so your strength decreases. If your strength decreases, the weight becomes heavier relative to your strength AT THE MOMENT. Your strength will drop by around 2-4% when using “normal” weights. Let’s say 3%.

If you are using 70% of your max on the bar…

Rep 1 is 70% of your maximum for that rep … and your strength decrease by around 3% because of fatigue

Rep 2 is 73% because of the fatigue from rep 1

Rep 3 is 76%

Rep 4 is 79%

Rep 5 is 82% (at this point all of your fibers kick in, maybe even by rep 4)

Rep 6 is 85%

Rep 7 is 88%

Rep 8 is 92%

Rep 9 is 95%

Rep 10 is 98% which gets you close to muscle failure

So from rep 4 you are fatiguing a large part of your Type II fibers… you have 7 reps where you are fatiguing those fibers and since they are not fatigue resistant like the Type 1 THESE are the fibers that are drained when you move on to the sets of 3… WHERE YOU REALLY NEED THEM. That why you feel weak and unstable with the heavier weights.

You approach makes ZERO sense. Either only do sets of 10 (maybe do 4 - 5 sets) of if you want to do sets of 3 and 10, start with the sets of 3 (after a warm-up of course) so that you do these sets with the least amount of fatigue possible.

Your workouts could look something like this:

45lbs x 10
95lbs x 5
135lbs x 5
165lbs x 3
185lbs x 3
205lbs x 1 …
if this feel good go up to

213 x 3 x 3

If 205 didn’t feel great use that 205 (or less) for your sets of 3.

THEN you lower the weight down to 135 (or 145) and do 3 sets of 10.

Note that this is just an example, you might find that you can use more both for the sets of 3 (because there is less accumulated fatigue) and 10 (because the nervous system is primed).

It makes zero sense to create fatigue before doing heavy work… that’s also why the reps during the ramp up sets are low. You get prepared without creating fatigue.

Forget about that B.S. about targeting certain fiber types with moderate rep ranges. They will work regardless and if you go anywhere close to failure with 20 reps or less, you still fatigue all the fibers.

2 Likes

What about this article here?

Should i give this a try or is it counter productive like doing 3x10’s before my 3x3’s?
Also based on personal experience (if any) would you go beta alanine or citruline malate if you could only choose one?

  1. First they used 20% fr max reps instead of 3 sets of 10 reps. This will likely give them 50+ reps (likely more). So yeah, you will get more type 1 fatigue than doing sets of 10 because you will reach failure not because of muscle failure but because of metabolite accumulation and not actual muscle fiber fatigue (especially Type II fatigue). And you likely will reach failure before fatiguing the Type II fibers. Doing the 3 work sets of 10 is dumb and will not do the same thing at all and it will fatigue the Type II fibers significantly, decreasing performance.

  2. They did 3 work sets of 8 reps , not sets of 3 like you are doing. There is a BIG difference between doing sets of 8 in a fatigued state and sets of 3 with a max weight in a fatigued state.

  3. You don’t need to “open up” the window for your fast twitch fibers (as is said in the article) by pre-fatiguing the slow twitch fibers when you are doing sets of 3. Sets of 3 will use 88-95% of your maximum and from the first rep you are recruiting your fast twitch fibers, no need for any special technique to get them involved. If you are doing sets of 8-10 reps for all your work sets I can see a potential benefit: if you indeed fatigue the slow twitch fibers, then yes, the fast twitch ones will kick in sooner. In a normal set of 8-10 they would kick in by rep number 3-4. If you pre-fatigue the slow twitch fibers they might kick in immediately. But when using low reps/heavy weights there will be no added benefit.

  4. I’m not even sure about the conclusion of the scientists. I don’t doubt that they stimulated more strength and size gain. But is it because they 'opened up" the fast twitch fibers by fatiguing the slow twitch ones first or simply because the set to failure with 20% also stimulated growth? If the set of 20% to failure stimulated growth, on top of the growth stimulated by the 3 sets of 8, you would obviously get more muscle stimulation. And if you are adding more muscle the strength gains will be greater provided that you are also getting some neurological work in (they are getting the same amount of neurological work as the control group).

A recent study has shown that sets of 30% done to failure lead to the same muscle growth as sets of 80% done to failure. So there is definitely a training effect for muscle growth with light weights if you go to failure. The mechanisms by which that muscle growth occur is likely different: the lighter work would lead to a greater accumulation of lactate and hydrogen ions , leading to a greater release of local growth factors (MGF) that stimulates muscle growth. Plus, recent studies have shown that lactate itself that stimulate muscle growth.

So it is not surprising that going to failure, even with a very light weight, before your heavier work sets would lead to more muscle growth. But is it really because you are recruiting more fast twitch fibers in the later sets or because the first set stimulate growth itself, and stimulates it via a different mechanism?

And it’s worth repeating…

Sets of 10 reps have nothing in common with a set with 20% done to failure (getting 50+ reps) as far as muscular recruitment is concerned. Sets of 10 reps will recruit the fast twitch fibers by rep 4 (and the intermediate fibers will actually work from rep 1), the slow twitch fibers are not dominant in that number of reps.

AND pre-fatiguing your muscles (regardless of if it is with sets of 10 or 20% to failure) WILL decrease your performance on heavy sets of 3. Making these sets less effective.

If you want to use the approach described in the article, fine. But don’t use that approach at the same time as heavy lifting.

Dude, they don’t do the same thing. It depends on the effect you are looking for. But personally I hate beta-alanine so I would use citruline.