T Nation

Percentage of Max Rep vs. Sets x Reps

I posted this on another site, in case this looks familiar to anyone…

% of a max rep VS sets x reps: whatâ??s more important?

I will make my question simple with a hypothetical scenario;

I discover a routine for mass- â??Use 80% of 1 rep max for 3 sets of 8 reps with 1 minute rests.â??

Thereâ??s a snag, I can really get something like 6, 3, 2 with 1 minute rests using my 80%. How would I proceed from there for size?

A) stick with 80% and keep the 6, 3,2 (or even lower reps on some days)
B) Strip down to about 60% so I can get out all 3x8 and â??own itâ??
C) Or maybe even Waterburyâ??s solution: take that 80%, and do 24 reps, no matter how long it takes to get there in the dayâ?¦…

Basically, what works better? Using a given percentage of a 1-rep max OR doing a set number of reps in a given amount of time, regardless of how light that weight may be?

I know from experimentation that in order for me to do German Volume Training and get the full 10x10, I needed to use 45%. When I used 60% (the program standard) I was lucky to eke out 4x10.

I appreciate any EXPERIENCED observation with this. IE, â??Please donâ??t quote a book if youâ??ve never been down this road before.â??
That being said, I canâ??t be the only one whoâ??s delt with this.

Thank You.

p.s. the BIG goals are 1.5x bodyweight for 6 reps in both the front squat and bench press (I went as far in the deadlift as I want to), and to do it with routine that is hypertrophy friendly.

implicit in GVT is that you wont be able to hit the 10x10 exactly (i know this isnt the main point in your post but just for your info). you kind of work up to it. it might look something like this:

8<— i think poliquin calls this neural adaption which allows you to hit a couple more reps

when you hit 10s on all sets you up the weight i believe.

as far as your major point of the post, a lot of people here ramp up. instead of doing 4x8 at 80% of your 1 rep max, you work up to either a top set of 8 (as much weight as you can handle for 8) or ramp up to 80% of your 1RM for as many as possible. the problem with using % of your max weight is doing calculations. fuck it. umm whats 80% of 385? beats me.

on the other hand, i dont remember who it is or maybe im just making this up but i think it was MODOK who hits his top set of 8, drops the weight just enough to hit another 8, and than drops it once more to hit his last set of 8 but i highly doubt he drops to 60% of his 1rm. dont quote me on this last part.

It’s not as simple as one being better than another. Universally, you can not just pin point just a single approach as being superior. Using the example you gave, you may only be hitting 6, 3 and 2 reps respectively using 80% of 1rm for a 3x8 protocol … but that is ok.

The indicator whether you are progressing is whether in the coming weeks/months this improves. Say you get 6,3,2 today. Next week you might hit 6,3,3 (an improvement). A week after that you might hit 7,4,3 (another improvement). 2 months from now you might finally get to 8,8,8 … in which case you’ve ultimately made improvements and attained the goal. TIME TO SET A NEW GOAL! :slight_smile: yippeee

With GVT, it isn’t easy to be hitting 10 reps by the latter sets. That’s to be expected, and don’t manipulate the percentages so you can manage 10x10. GVT is a more advanced program, which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone training less than two to three years with consistent progress.

Basically to sum my post up:

  • 3x8 would be your goal, any shortfalls is considered ‘room for improvement’
  • when attaining 3x8, recalculate your new 1rm and repeat

NOTE: I’m not familiar with 3x8 protocol, I’m just going off a general principal I’ve learned over the past 5-6 years training using similar approaches.