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What's a Better Progression Method?

Hi, I did a 3x5 program with straight sets and my progress has stalled, so I’m looking for another progression method.

Which of these would be better?

  1. Dorian Yates style: 2 sets to ‘warm-up’ with moderate intensity, leaving 2-3 reps in the tank and then 1 all-out set taken to technical failure. (last set as marker for progressive overload, when hitting a certain amount of reps with a certain weight, you go up in weight)

  2. Good warm-up and then the first set high intensity taken to failure. Then 2 more sets with the same weight leaving 1-2 reps in the tank, amount of reps don’t matter as you’ll be weaker after that first set. (first set as maker for progressive overload, same as 1)

  3. Picking a rep range and trying to get all 3 sets within that rep range without ever going to failure (or just shy of technical failure). Once you hit all 3 sets within that rep range, up the weights.

  4. The classic ‘once you get 3x Y-reps’ up the weight. Like a 3x5 but a higher rep range.


Without knowing the goal, it’s impossible to say what is and is not better.

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-3 sets of 5 with the same weight is pretty Stressful. It leads to the “hard” stalls and the most negative side effects, like feeling run down and joints hurting.

-Picking a weight and grinding out 3 x3, and trying to increase it to 3 x6 seems great in theory, but crushes me down even faster. I go backwards after just a couple workouts.

-One Top Set, “Yates Style” is great switch to switch to after 3 x5. It’s like a mental break. One Top Set is easiest to keep track of, and easiest to add to. You can do assistance work better because you’re not so tired.


Primarily hypertrophy, getting a 5 plate bench isn’t one of my life goals…

Interesting you should say that… That’s pretty much what’s happened to me. 3x5 was fine in the beginning, even went beyond what I though I was capable of, but then once I got near my real 5 rep max progress just came to a stop. Deloaded, took a week off, gained like 5 more lbs on my bench but then stalled again and my wrist/shoulder started to ache. Got a bit more out of my squat/DL but workouts were a drag…

Would the ‘one top set’ also work in a full body workout? Or does that first all-out set affect the rest of the workout too much?

If you go Top Set “style” with a full body layout, in my opinion; Do upper body first! If it was gonna be Press, Clean, Squat, I would definetly squat third, not first. And press first, not last.

Then, if you do assistance, assistance stuff after the “bigger” lifts.

Was thinking the same. Yates does top set-style on every exercise with at most 2 moderate warm-up sets. That’s for 1 muscle group per day though. Don’t know how the top set will affect other lifts that are sort of full body or mainly upper/lower body movements. Like doing weighted pull-ups for a top set, going beyond failure by doing eccentrics and then going to weighted dips. Performance on dips will probably be worse than doing them fresh… But that’s the whole issue with full body anyways for me, regardless of set-rep-scheme…

Are you trying to be like a body builder, or starting middle line backer?

Usually, you don’t go Beyond Failure when you’re on a full body plan, or training for “performance.” Or a sport. You gotta save a little energy for the rest of the stuff you’re gonna do.

Current strength level?
Time actively involved in lifting?

Maybe you can get some inspiration from this program The Best Damn Workout Plan For Natural Lifters. I am using it right now and it works great.
It’s build on one last all-out set