T Nation

Question of Sets


Hi guys, ive lurked here long enough and there's a question thats been bugging me for quite a while now.

I read up alot of the articles here to guide my training and ive come across suggested set numbers. eg. 5x5, 3x8, 5x8...
But then again, a few other articles, especially interviews talk about 'going to failure' and 'leaving one more in the tank'.

Ive tried both type of training where i use a certain or fixed number of sets and i dont go more than that, and ive tried going to failure and leaving one more.

What i get out of this is that when i do fixed number of sets, i dont really feel that ive worked out enough, i dont feel tired. What i get out of the other method, is i feel tired, sore and pretty damn good until the rest of the week comes and im left sore for the most part of the week thus not allowing me to train that often.

Which type of training would be most ideal actually? thats where im confused.


are you progressing? getting bigger? stronger? etc etc...

which method got you there? use that one.

for me, when i do 3x8 i'll go progressively heavier until i hit a top set of 8 (the heaviest weight i can do for 8). so, for instance:

135x15 or whatever to warm up (i usually just do Romanian to warm up the hammies)
225x8 <--- submaximal load
315x8 <--- submaximal load
405x8<---top set

so essentially, its a combo of both methods. the first few sets you "leave something in the tank" and then on the last set you hit failure.

*not my deadlift numbers, just an easy example.


I first used the fixed number of sets (normally 5 main sets,2 warm up), numbers increased then i reached a plateau. For about 2 months, none of my numbers in any of my main lifts went up (bench, military, deadlift, squat).

Then i switched in up to going all the way, which at some point went up to more than 10 sets where the last few being only 2-3 reps. I grew a little bit more for about a month of doing this, though very SMALL gains though.

In a span of 3 months after that i've been switching back and forth, however still no strength gains. Its more so as though im having mood swings, sometimes i can push the weight for a number or reps other times i cant.

It is actually getting a little frustrating to be honest. Thats about half a year gone, and i feel that the gains were not as much as it couldve been.


what kind of numbers are you lifting dude because unless ur pretty strong i doubt you need 10 ramp sets :slight_smile:


Haha. I just started lifting a year ago actualy, so numbers are still pretty low right now.

Bench - 165 x 2
Squat - 180 x 5 (i dont dare to go for high weight/low reps, i usually dont have a spotter)
deadlift - 260 x 1

im 5'7 and 150.


how much work do you do in the kitchen? maybe its got nothing to do with what you are doing in the gym.


I had a bunch of shit typed up, but this is better.

For squats, do you have access to a squat cage with adjustable safety bars? If not you should try to find one, makes squatting alone a much better option.


My usual daily meal would look like this:

Wake up
Meal 1
- 1 cup of oats
- protein powder
- 250ml milk
- banana
all blended to make a morning shake

meal 2 (pre-workout)
- 3 eggs and half cup of oats omlet
- protein powder and water

meal 3 (post work out)
- 2 eggs scrambled
- 7 ounces of chicken breast
- 7 ounces of potatoes

meal 4
- 1 apple
- bunch of grapes
- 7 ounces of chicken breast

meal 5
- protein powder
- 250ml of milk
- water

thats roughly 2300-2500 calories. I did the calorie count from some of the guidelines given in the article here. My maintanence calorie intake is around 1900+, so i a little more than that.


guidelines are just that, a guide. are you gaining weight?


Dude, that looks like a pre-contest diet for someone trying to compete at 140 lbs, eat more food man. Hot pockets, lots of whole milk, more eggs, lots of beef (80/20 or 85/15) is what you need.


with the current diet i loss fats and gained a little weight. about 10 pounds or so. not much.

seriously? i read at a couple of articles that i should start by eating 300-400 calories more than maintenance. Im taking in 500-600 of it. Im all up for eating more of course, if it gets me what i want, but isnt this alot to start with?


haha look at hungry's profile pic. if he says eat more, eat more.


haha, true. makes all the sense in the world. So how much more do you guys suggest? im up 500ish of calories above my maintenance.
maintanence 1900. current 2400-2500.
since ive only got 5 meals in my routine days, i can slip in one more meal easy. how much more?


Why so concerned with calories? I never understand why people get so attached to numbers like that. A 500 cal range...maybe, but you've narrowed it down to a 100 cal range. Never be hungry. Load up on protein. Load up on fats. Save yourself the headache.