T Nation

Setting Weights


Hey all, this is my first post here, so just like to say hi to y'all (my pseudo-attempt at American English...). Anyway, just got a few questions with regards to settings weights.

Ok, so I've just finished an 8 week programme with high reps and high (for me) weights, typically split-body part programme, and although I gained an appreciable amount of definition and muscle 'tone', my weights didn't go up as much as expected. So, for example my bench press started off at:

Set 1: 15 reps @ 50kg
Set 2: 12 reps @ 50kg
Set 3: 7 reps @ 50kg
Set 4: 4 reps @ 50kg

And by the end of the programme I was on:

Set 1: 15 reps @ 50kg
Set 2: 13 reps @ 50kg
Set 3: 9 reps @ 50kg
Set 4: 6 reps @ 50kg

This is with approx 30secs in between sets. Now, this doesn't feel like a massive increase in 8 weeks, and many of my weights haev been like this (particularly mil. press and barbell curl). Now, I'm not sure if this is because the weights were too light/heavy/rest period too little or whatever. I'm looking to do another spilt programme, maybe the ABBH one, or another one I have at home, but they are all multi-set, and I don't want to have the same problem.

So, when you go through the sets, should you decrease the weights to account for increased fatigue, or keep the weights the same and try and increase the reps each week or what? Really not sure what to do with this, and I'd appreciate any help. advice on this. Cheers guys.

P.s. Meant to mention I'm probably more an intermediate weights guy rather than a beginner, but I didn't know where else this would fit in.


30 seconds might be too little rest. 60-120 seconds is the "standard" rest period for most guys, if you train as a serious powerlifter, 3-4 minutes is the norm. Try resting around a minute between sets next time.

The other problem that I see is that your first set has a lot of reps. If you want to get stronger, doing many repetitions will not help you get you there. Read around the site about set/rep schemes to help you out. I suggest doing something really basic like 3x8-10 (generally hypertrophy) for about a month, then something like 6x4 for the next month (generally strength).

Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't do any of CW's programs at a 50 kg bench... the difference between a 60% bench and a 65% bench would be unmeasurable for you at this point.


Mmmm, I kinda thought that. It seems that maybe the high reps at the beginning would knacker me out for the rest of the sets, but that's what the programme asked for... around 15 - 25 reps. Madness I know, but it seriously kicked my ass for a good month or so. Now it's just boring. Just wondering what you would recommend re: bench then?


This is my take on things.

Parameters you used are for strength-endurance: high reps and short rest times. But, for body composition goals, that weight is too light - you need more load for hypertrophy, in the range of 70%-85% of 1RM.

Still, I would expect better progress in 8 weeks. I believe your problem was too infrequent training. As a natural trainer, you're not going to progress much by doing body parts just 1x a week.

I also think you should've tried just putting more weight on the bar. High reps are "weird", at least for me, in a way that adding reps to subsequent sets doesn't work that well as with low reps. So it wouldn't surprise me thay you would be able to do 55x15, for instance.

ABBH would be a much better choice. But, I'm not sure wheter you should jump directly into doing the 10x3 scheme. Maybe a better option could be one day of 5x5 (instead of 10x3) and one day of 4x10.


Well, first of all, I suggest you wait for a few more responses, I'm a beginner. :slightly_smiling: I do read a shitload on this site so I do feel like I know some basics but I'm still new.

The general consensus is that specialized programs, like a lot of the ones at this site, are for intermediate to advanced weightlifters who already have some good weight on their lifts (nearing 200 lbs bench press, prolly 300 squat, 350 deadlift, I'm pulling these numbers out of my ass but you get the point). If you do something basic that you like, it'll be OK.

First, make sure your diet is in order. Without diet, you won't see any serious gains.

Then read these two threads:



If you're not up for that, just keep a good diet in order, and go lift heavy, and lift big compound movements (chin-ups, military presses, chin-ups, rows, bench press, squat, deadlift). You can do a split like,

Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Lower body
Wed: Off
Thursday: Upper body
Friday: Lower body
Sat + Sun: Off

Upper body you can do bench press, rows, bicep curls, and tricep extensions. Lower body you can do squats, deadlifts, and calf presses. Then on thursday you can do military presses, chin-ups, bicep curls and tricep extensions. And on friday, squats, deadlifts, and calf presses again (once you start lifting really big weights and you get older, I hear it's not good to squat and deadlift twice a week, but I think it's OK for you now, I squat and deadlift three times a week).

3 sets of 8-10 for the first 6-8 weeks and then 6 sets of 4-5 on the next 6-8 weeks should bejust fine.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, tweak with it yourself, and go out there and lift and see what works and what doesn't. Just keep in mind to have a good diet, to always work legs (squats and deadlifts should be staples), and don't overwork yourself by doing a lot of reps, a lot of sets, not taking enough time between sets, etc.

Good luck, don't forget to read those articles, they're helpful.


Thanks for the replies, good advice. When I said I was an intermediate lifter though, I really am one (with regards to experience, maybe not numbers), and all the lifts and exercises that were mentioned are pretty much staples in my regime. Max squat has been 115kg for 10, and max dead lift is about the same. Never 1RM'd on anything. Bench is admittedly pretty poor. The diet thing has been pretty much nailed as well, trying to get down to 12 stone at the moment, about 4 pounds to go. There's a bunch of things that could be the problem I suppose, and I've been thinking about them. The infrequent training thing I understand, since I used to be a full-body person, and decided to move to split because fulll-body was taking too long. The rest times have been discussed. I really don't know why I made so little progress, but in terms of body composition, I have definitely gained. Better vascularity, better overall definition, legs and calfs look loads better, good flare, chest is coming along. I just don't know why my weights progress has been so crappy... Might go for a month full-body and a month split and see how that goes, although I'm kinda used to being in and out in an hour with the split programme now. Oh, and it kinda sucks that you can't see the other posts in the threads while you reply, cause I've probably forgotten to reply to some stuff...


This is really good advice, so good, I had to quote it once again :)))

Bob, it is very good that you had improvements in body composition. Doing high reps requires a lot of calories, so maybe you just lost a bit of fat which made the muscles you had more visible?

Anyway, just wanted to point out that full body workouts shouldn't take over an hour. You hit 4-5 exercises in each for something like 4x6 on one day, and that's plenty.


Bob, if you are looking to increase your weights while at the same time reducing your BW, there is only one solution: heavy weight, low reps, not too many sets. You should restrict the number of exercise you do to a minimum as well, therefore all compound exercises.

I suggest squat, deadlift, bench and row would be a fine combination. Lift heavy, but not to failure. Eg, do sets of 3 with your 5 rep max. Plenty of rest between sets. Aim for no more than 12 sets in one workout. Example:

Mon squat 6X3, row 6X3
Tues DL 6X3, BP 6X3
Thurs squat 6X3, row 6X3
Fri DL 6X3, BP 6X3

You could also vary the weight from set to set. Say your 5 rep max was 85% of your 1 rep max, you could wave the weights like this:

Set %1RM
1 70
2 75
3 80
4 85
5 80
6 85 or 90, depending how you feel

You could aim to add 5lbs/2.5kg to bench and row weights each week and 10lbs/5kg to squat and deadlift each week until you reach the point where you can't do all the reps on the last set. Then drop back the weights to wherever you were at in week 2 or week 3, depending on how far you got, and start all over again.

You will not add significant muscle mass with this regime, but you will get a lot stronger.