The Rep Zone Method

are you my bb coach?

because that’s exactly the way my bb coach has my programming set up.

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Just go watch how professional bodybuilders train, simple as that. I realize bodybuilders use drugs but so do power lifters and many other athletes in the field of strength and fitness. In hypertrophy volume is the key not strength. Lee Haney 8 times Mr Olympia never squated more than 315lbs while preparing for a contest but he had tricks up his sleeves to make that weight feel heavier. I am 66 and I witnessed that with my own eyes at World Gym in Santa Monica where I was a member for over 30 years.

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I think this is another broad stroke argument.

Can I get to IFBB size if I do a ton of volume with 5lb weights? Probably not.
Can I get to IFBB size if I do a ton of weight with hardly any volume? Probably not.

So perhaps a middle-ground which balances strength improvements with volume would do the trick… perhaps even something that has prescribed weight progressions and % based lifts designed to increase work capacity - therefore allowing greater increases in hypertrophy…

Oh, right. That’s what the purpose of this article was.

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I absolutely get this, but I don’t think starting strength is the comparator in this article. Starting strength dictates that you add weight every workout. The opposite of percentage-based training in this article was to add weight when you felt it necessary. In these two instances, starting strength is actually closer to 5/3/1 because it prescribes your progression.

I am not arguing against percentage-based training at all. I’m no fool - I see all you strong folks doing it. I just think its value lies more in actually holding you back and keeping you healthier/ more recovered vs somehow more accurately predicting your true strength progression; the article seems to conclude the opposite.

Very fair, but we can also counterpoint this stuff all day: Ronnie Coleman doubled 800 weeks before the Olympia.

I also prefer to just work up to something I think is hard. It’s a very valid way and my preferred way; I don’t think the way exists.

Anyway, I’m still only trying to argue that I don’t think percentage-based training has magical accuracy.

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Tell us more about Lee Haney.

I guess the accuracy thing just comes down to what you’re used to. Or how you’re accustomed to thinking about the weights.

We’ve seen dude so reliant on percentages and low reps that they have no idea what their 10 rep max is. Or even how to really just ramp up to a hard set of 10.

And we’ve seen guys so used to just working up to a hard set of 8-12 that they have no idea what their max is. And no clue why you would do 87.5% x 4 x 3.


More than one way to skin a cat as they say.

We all like what we like. All I can say in all my observations of different programs is that percentage-based ones are almost always about getting more weight on the bar at the end of that cycle. It is also almost always used when doing the same lift more than once a week. In programs without lift specialization, it is much rarer to see. Recovery in the former seems to be managed with varying percentages, and recovery in the latter seems to be managed with different exercise choices.

There is also the overarching thing here, and that is that the more advanced you get the more specific your training needs to be.


I think we’ve been spoiled by Thibadeau. His stuff shows you how to be super accurate with “work up to something hard.” And how to work it into a nice progression. just like percentage based stuff, without breaking out the calculator.


As someone who last year cared a little bit too much about maxes, percentage training always got me better results in that endeavor. At a basic level, being able to accumulate volume with say 5x5 at 80% on Monday and an all-out new 1x5 PR on a Friday was great. Trying to do a rep zone type thing twice a week was a massive no-go after the weights got heavier.

Just as I’m about to type out C.Thib, you bring him up yourself. I really like the common method which he talks about a lot, periodizing through 3 different “rep zones”. I have no idea what my 1RM is on the bench right now, but floating through these different zones has allowed me to have measurable progress without needing to know. It’s not the “right” way but it is “a” way. If “a” way works for you then it is the “right” way… until it isn’t.


With so much information, people are already irreparably confused. But every time I ask myself the question, why most bodybuilders train in 3-4x8-12, and not according to these schemes, which are massively recommended to natural trainers. If something works better, it will work for both natural exercisers and medicated exercisers. It’s just that for some, the benefit will be greater. If 3x5 worked better why do they make 3x8-12. By the way, strength training is easier than bodybuilding training. At least it is for me. I have felt much better if I do, for example, 8x3 with 90% of RM than 3x10-12 with 70% of RM. If the former worked better, why doesn’t any bodybuilder train most of the time this way.


You should know by now that weight is all relative and 5lbs as you trying to mock my argument could actually be enough weight in the 12-15 rep range for a woman or a very young person. You missed my point entirely and go watch how professional bodybuilders train its nothing like you have been told using fancy equations and calculations. It’s all about feel and the muscle connection which comes with time and experience something you probably lack right now.

I’ve seen loads of BB programmes use repeating sets with the same weight.
There are also lots of strength programmes that have you working up to one hard set.

Are you just talking main movements or accessory exercises as well and do you have any examples of said programmes out of curiosity as I’ve interested to see what they look like.

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I sincerely wasn’t - I used the extremes in both cases to make a point that the best path for 99% of people is to have the right combination of volume and weight. Judging a process based on the statistical outliers is pretty unfair to the process and the rest of us.

I really didn’t claim anything insane, I’m not sure why you’re so vested in fighting me on this…

You, umm, should take a look at my training log(s) before judging me and my experience. Glad to see you took the high road (as a 66 year old) - still waiting on that physique picture :+1:


You have read BB programs that’s very different than seeing an actual bodybuilder training. Magazines are selling you something. Did you know that the original 3 sets of 10 reps was never intended to be used as the same weight? It was devised as a strength recovery tool for soldiers and the first set was only 50 percent of your 10 reps max, you second set was then 75 percent of your 10 rep max and finally the third set was 100 percent of what you achieve for 10 reps. This is how bodybuilders train using 3 to 5 sets per movements.

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Thanks to the internet I see lots of pro BB training actually.

You didn’t really answer anything I asked in my post.

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It’s because you haven’t really seen how bodybuilders train, obviously.

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I’ve got about 4 on my Facebook feed that constantly make me feel small and weak with their training and massive physique. I actually keep thinking I should take them off as it gives me very unrealistic goals.

How’s your training feeling anyhow? I can’t post on your log now you are in the special group.

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And I’d have been jacked too! If it wasn’t for them meddling magazines…

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How can it be feasible that the weight you indentified as a max 2, 4, 6, 8, 10+ weeks is the exact best weight to be working off on any given Tuesday?

Performance varies week-to-week, day-to-day, hour-by-hour - anyone who’s played a sport will agree. Sleep, nutrition, sunlight, noise, relationships, routine, work and about a thousand other things will all affect the outputs you’re capable of today.

To expect any different from lifting weights is (in my mind) folly. Your body doesn’t give a shit about what %1RM is on the bar. It only knows effort and volume. If the effort and volume are there, the results will come.