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Set/Rep Bible: Is It Effective?


What do you all think about the Set/Rep Bible that was posted on this website by Chad Waterbury? He says to use a 24-50 range for all exercises to build muscle mass, and I was wondering if he is correct in his philosophy of weight lifting.

Here is the link: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_setrep_bible

He recommends to switch up the rep ranges to get the most results, and so I put together a routine of compound exercises centered around increasing the weight that I can lift with the big three: squat, bench, and deadlift. I am trying to improve my strength with these three lifts the most as well as gain total strength and muscle mass.

Back squat 7x4
Bench press 7x4
Conventional deadlift 7x4

Front squat 5x10
Incline dumbbell bench press 5x10
Reverse grip row 5x10

Back squat 4x8
Barbell Press 4x8
Sumo deadlift 4x8

I am deadlifting twice a week because the rep ranges and sets are different, and I am also doing two different types of deadlifts as well. I also wrestle a lot, and I am really trying to focus on lower body and back strength; that's why I am squatting three times a week. The 7x4 sets/reps is for strength, 5x10 is for muscle mass, and 4x8 is for fat loss. I figured that if I utilize all three of these rep/set ranges then I will see good results. Do you all think so too? Any advice or input is greatly appreciated.


Whatever you do, do it consistently while being patient and making sure to aim to be better at a lift every time you do it. Listen to your body, and it will tell you how to dictate rep schemes. There is no infallible answers. Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be.


Any big guys do it like this ?


i think its dumb:
press x3, row x1
heavy squats and deads on the same day TWICE a week + extra front squats


This is COMPLETELY backwards, never try to do all three at once (it's a very basic rule you shouldn't break).

Most of those are controlled by your diet (specifically energy balance). You can get a little stronger by eating just enough, but to get decent muscle mass past newbie gains you need to eat quite a bit more. Eating quite a bit more will give you great strength gains and muscle mass gains.

Whereas to lose fat you need to eat less than maintenance (at least most of the time).

See how your goals contradict each other?

You can make sure that you don't gain as much fat while bulking by doing a little cardio (quite tricky to get a good balance though, and tends to work better for 'endomorphic' builds), but DON'T use weight lifting for that...weight lifting is for building muscle/strength, nothing else.

Even if you can somehow get a good compromise and manage to do both goals (big/strong and lean) within the same short time frame, the results will be very poor compared to simply concentrating on one goal at a time. Don't make that mistake - you'll be at it for years with rubbish gains to show for it.


To answer your question, no I don't believe that the set/rep bible is infallible. Maybe a good rough guide, but not very accurate especially considering Waterbury ONLY utilises STRAIGHT sets.

This is a big downfall because it doesn't take into account changing intensity throughout the sets. For example, if you use the ramping method (increasing load every set till the max set), you are only doing ONE maximal set. How exactly are you supposed to count sets this way, and what sets do you count as "work sets"?

Also, it doesn't take into account those who respond to low volume. Like myself for example, I've responded greatly to just one or two maximal sets/exercise (and mostly 2 exercises/muscle group), excluding warm-ups which are definitely non taxing. My total rep volume (work sets) is only no more than 18 reps per exercise (mostly ~15), ~twice a week...which is considerably lower than what Waterbury recommends for optimal hypertrophy. My training has evolved this way, and I find that I respond better this way...as many others have too.


If you have a high enough base of strength, 4x7 etc can work really well....if you don't you'd be better off focussing on less reps & more sets IMO.


how does any one do squats (properly) then go on to d lift . at worst you risk injury . after i do a squat workout out all i can manage is a piss and thats with one hand supporting me against the wall !


Lots of ppl deadlift after they squat. And how do you risk injury?

I've found that squatting then deadlifting gives fine results (not the best, but I don't think seperating the two and doing them intensley is a good idea either).

I've lifted in powerlifting and strongman crews where it was common practice to deadlift post squatting. Although vice versa yielded sucky results.


This statement confuses me.

High enough base of strength?

Curious - Who has this "worked really well" for? Not trying to be a dick, just clarifying.


You can deadlift after squatting but you're going to have to lower the weight.

Depending on your strength level I would be careful about the front squats for 10 reps and the back squats/sumo's for 8. You don't want your form breaking down in the later sets (due to fatigue) on either one of these exercises because you can injure yourself pretty easily IMO. I'm not nessecarilly a big fan of higher rep DL's and Squats for beginners (not sure what your strength/experience level is OP I'm just stating my opinion)

What other accessory stuff are you doing? You aren't just lifting 3 lifts day for those three days are you?


It's worked well for plenty of people (myself included).

If you only have a one rep max of 200LBS, the amount of weight you'll be able to use on a 4x7 type rep scheme is going to be pretty tiny.

However, if you are already quite strong on a lift, you may well find you can add mass even using a relatively low percentage of your 1RM (especially if you experiment with different variations a bit).

Take Hex Bar deadlifts for example, because I can lift a fair amount of weight on this movement (around 200% boddyweight), I know from experience even using 60%-70% of my 1RM I can induce hypertrophy in my quads <<


Edit- Why the Hell does it take 5 minutes for a post to go through? Fucking ridiculous.


That's a generic enough statement that it's not even useful. Most bodybuilder do not train at 1RM/2RM etc.

Define "tiny".


I don't have any before & after pics (I used to weigh as little as 190LBS or so) at nearly 6ft 6.......I'm now around 270....albeit with more body fat.

I'm not implying bodybuilders have to go super-heavy on every set, I'm just becoming more & more convinced that one of the main reasons a lot of wannabe bodybuilders struggle to put on size is often because they spend way too much time using set/rep schemes that only really work optimally for people that are already (let's say for the sake of simplicity benching their own bw for a few reps). Not total newbies OR people that have been training for a few years or so that have never really pushed themselves to put more weight on the bar.


i tried it once (squating then dl'ing)and didnt have ( or feel like i had) enough strength in my lower back to keep my back arched at the beginning of the lift . you sound a hell of a lot stronger than me so maybe its ok for you . what i do now is squat then 2 days later d lift .


Too many times a week to squat AND wrestle, in my opinion. But maybe I'm wrong - maybe you are making progress in the gym (only results count). If your weights are going up, fine.

Umm, no. The reason you vary your rep ranges and loads is because it's supposed to help speed progress (and in my experience, it does). As opposed to say (for example) benching 200 pounds for 5 reps every time you train chest - one day, you feel great and get 6 reps, the next time you're sleep-deprived and you only get 4 reps, then you have a 'normal' day and bench 5 reps... making progress training that way can be slow sometimes. It's like you're training your body to only bench 200 pounds. Rotating your rep and load schemes is effective for progress, but you're reading too much into the reasons why (more fat loss with 8 reps than with 10 reps??? Umm, no).


Just to add to this (so that newer lifters don't get too caught up with changing things) - this tends to be more-so because of lack of calories/protein than it is just sleep deprivation/lack of periodization.

Secondly, this seems to happen more (stagnation) with the lower rep ranges (e.g. 6 or less), and not as much with higher ranges (e.g. 8+).

So if a routine has been successful for some time (i.e. isn't retarded), and then gains stall - always check your diet first of all. Then the routine (e.g. frequency/reps & sets).

IMO, to be on the safe side, I'd rather have a newbie/intermediate stick to your average rep range (e.g ~8...except for deadlifts) and monitor progress this way (far easier to track it), rather than constantly changing reps/sets. Then if weights stagnate, increase bodyweight.


what works for me is reverse pyramids . 2 warmup sets with 50% of work set weight for 10/12 reps then 1st work set with heaviest weight for 4 to 5 reps then second set -10% for 6 to 7 reps then third set -20% for 8 to 10 reps . when i stop being able to add weight every week (after about 2 to 3 months)i swap to 4 x 8 then when this starts to stall i switch back to rev pyramids .IMO everybody is different so trying different combinations to see what works best for the individual is the only way to know for sure which is best for you .