T Nation

Volume or Reps as a Program Variable

Just wanted to get people’s opinions on the following:

Do you consider total volume lifted or total reps per set more important to manipulate in a routine?

Let me explain what I mean - recently I have been doing volume work but instead of say doing 6 sets of 2 reps with 85% of my 1rm ill say the goal is 12 reps by any means possible with a particular weight which at the moment has been between 85 - 90% of my 1RM (I remember Jim Wendler saying he does this with his clients). I like this way of doing this especially with a partner because its a good competition to see who can get to the goal in fastest time. I suppose its really just a variation on the density method.

Does anyone else do this or people more regimental in sticking to a prescribed number of reps per set?

Cheers in advance

I think that could work but it’s kind of hard to compare the intensity from training session to session if for one set you’re repping high, say 6 reps in one set compared to 2. If you did do 6 reps for the first set, it would take a damn long time to recover and complete all 12 reps lol. I can see this method working if you add reps or weight for the next month and keep track of time only for the mini competition you have for that session. It’s easier to gauge progress by increasing reps or weight as opposed to reduced completion time. Reduced completion time means you’re producing more power but it’s hard to see how much of that increases your maximal strength.

I’m guessing that if it’s a race, the fastest way to get your reps in is by doing a cluster set taking about 20-30s between reps. Basically singles with a short rest period. Most likely you’ll both use this method to reduce time.

Most people probably do not train that way, but that does not mean that it won’t work. Try it and see what happens.

All variables are important.

^You’re right that all variables are important. I meant to say that reduced completion time means you’re producing more power but it’s hard to ‘measure’ how much of that increases your maximal strength. Say it took somebody 7 mins to complete 4 sets of 3 reps at some weight. The next time they did a single cluster set and finished the lift in 5 mins. That significant reduction in time is the result of completing the workout in a more efficient manner and not solely due to strength increases.

If we were to do a more fair comparison and the person reduced the time it took to complete a cluster set by 15 seconds, it’s hard to measure how that directly transfers to a 1RM. Yes the lifter has gotten stronger, but how much? It would be interesting to see how the OP progresses by experimenting with time. I’d love to see the results as well. The reason why I emphasize trying out the cluster set is because I think it would be much easier to tell if he’s making gains if he controls that as opposed to doing reps at random. That is just my preference though. If he can still make overall gains doing whatever reps he wanted, then go for it. The gains are what it’s all about.

I never cared much about time because I take as long as necessary to recover between sets lol.

1rm test in 2 weeks and then comp in 5 so ill keep you posted see if it helped or not!