T Nation

Yet Another Set/Rep System


#1

Hi All,

I've been playing with this progressive rep and set scheme for a little over a year and thought I'd post it.

To begin, I have a staple of exercises that I do: front squat, dead lift, power clean or dumbbell swing (depending on how many guys are curling in the squat racks), decline bench press, dumbbell military press, weighted pull-up, dumbbell curl, and floor press. I usually do three full body workouts a week with one lower body exercise and an upper body push and vertical pull.

For everything but the dumbbell military presses (I haven't figured out the details for that yet) and power cleans I use this rep/set progression:
(2, 3, 5) X 3 for 30 total reps
(2, 4, 6) X 3 for 36 total reps
(1, 3, 5, 7) X 2 for 32 total reps
(2, 4, 6, 8) X 2 for 40 total reps

Once I make the (2, 4, 6, 8) X 2 I bump the weight five or ten pounds, depending on the exercise. My life is chaotic enough that I don't schedule unload weeks. Those seem to happen as a result vacations, job stuff, etc.

The results have been promising in that I'm adding weight to the bar consistently. Also, I am confident now that if I can do an excise at a given weight for (2, 4, 6, 8) X 2, then I can add weight to the exercise the next time I do it and get (2, 3, 5) X 3.

Here are my current numbers. Please keep in mind that I've been approaching the dead lift and front squats very conservatively. I've injured myself a couple times dead lifting with poor form. Although I have a 1RM PR of 450 in the DL (no great shakes there), I've only been using a fraction of the weight in order to focus on form and avoid injuries.

Body Weight: 180; ~7% BF
All of these are done with decent form. Front Squats are well below parallel with butt very close to heels. The decline bench press is done with the elbows in and a momentum killing pause at the bottom.
DL: 315 X (2, 4, 6) X 3
DBMP: 55 X (2, 3, 5) X 3
Pull-Up; BW + 20 X (2, 3, 5) X 3: I usually super set my pushes and pull with the pull-ups mirroring the push.
FS: 175 X (2, 3, 5) X 3
Decline Bench Press: 190 X (2, 3, 5) X 3
DB Curl: 60#/hand X (2, 3, 5) X 3
Power Clean: 145 X 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1: I use a different approach for the PCs.
Floor Press: 180 (2 90# dumbbells) X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 3

That's about it for now.


#2

Just poppin the cherry :wink: I am curious to see how your plan for your reps work for you!!!


#3

Last night: Sort of workout related.
I set up some scaffolding for a minor house repair project and then practiced tango for about an hour. Not sure how many calories I burned, but I was moving.

Today at the gym:
Squat racks were filled. Instead of power cleans I did dumbbell swings.
DBS: 80# X 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12, 12. The last reps of the last set were pretty ragged.
DBMP: 55s: 2, 4, 3, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Neutral Grip Pull-up: BW + 30: 2, 4, 3, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Semi-Tabata protocol rowing: 1 min warm-up, 10x 20 sec max effort/ 10 sec light effort, 1 min cool-down. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Tabata protocol has never been listed as useful with a rowing machine. So sue me.

@BW: Thanks for popping my cherry. Was it as good for you as it was for me?


#4

This weekend and today.
Not a whole lot of working out this weekend. Saturday night I had a milonga which means I walked for four hours with friends to music, i.e. danced Argentine Tango.

Sunday was a friend's graduation complete with lots of tasty, yet mostly bad for you food. I just chalked it up to a cheat day or carb loading or some other excuse. I am now back on my usual dietary track.

Today in the gym:
DL: 315 X 1, 3, 5, 7, 1, 3, 5, 7. Easier than I thought.
Floor Press: 90s X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 4/1, 2, 3, 5.
Pull-up (WG): BW plus 20 X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5.

The floor press was a little ragged at the beginning and in the middle, but the last set of five reps went well. When I tried the first set of two, I wasn't close to tight enough and didn't even complete the first rep. I reloaded, made sure to tighten up and made the reps. The second set of five was going well until the last rep when I lost concentration. I guess it doesn't take much to disengage important stabilizers. It felt like the plus 20 on the wide grip pull-ups was about right. I had a bit of a struggle for the final rep on the set of five. Perhaps I can bump it up by five pounds next time.


#5

Today:

BW: 178

Front Squat: 45 X 5, 95 X 5, 115 X 5, 135 X 5, 155 X 5, 175 X 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 8.
MP: 55s X 2, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.
Pull-Up: BW 35 (mirror MP) X 2, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.

It all felt good; challenging at the end but doable. I'll bump up the weight on the FS and give (4, 3, 2, 1) X 3 a try the next time I MP.


#6

Friday:
Decline Bench Press: 190 X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
Curl: 60s X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
Power Clean: 145 X 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Weekend:
Saturday was spent working on the house for a few hours and then dancing for four or five.
Sunday was spent roofing my dormer. This took about eight hours.

Today:
BW: 179

DL: 135 X 5, 225 X 5, 315 X 1, 1, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 6, 2.
I was a bit drained from the dormer project and that impacted the last set. I didn't make the eight but six and two was close enough given yesterday. I'll bump the weight up next week.
DBMP: 55s X 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Neutral Grip Pull-Up: BW 35 X 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.


#7

BW: 179

Front Squat: 45 X 5; 115 X 5; 135 X 5; 155 X 5; 180 X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5.
Floor Press: 90s X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.
Wide Grip Pull-up: BW 25: 2, 4, 5, 2, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.

I think I'm still recovering from Sunday and/or I'm finding a limit in the floor press and pull-ups with five more pounds. The next time I do this combination, I'll have a better sense of where I'm at with these exercises.


#8

Today's Workout

BW: 179

Power Clean: 145 X 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
DB Military Press: 55s X 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1.
Pull Up Neutral Grip: BW 35: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1.

When the deltoid tank goes empty, it doesn't mess around. I was trying for at least four reps to start the third round and only got two. It's still amazing to me how that one extra rep has such an impact. On Monday, for example, I was really tired from working on the house Sunday. However, I felt like I could have done another round of 4, 3, 2, 1, and every time I did four reps to start a round, it felt like I could have easily done five. Today that fifth rep was a character building exercise. I'm not sure how much the Power Cleans impacted the shoulder training, but I'm getting more clear on the limits of deltoid training and appropriate expectations and possible rep progressions. So it's all good.


#9

Today's Workout

BW: 180.9. I used a different scale than all the other posts.
DL: 135 X 5, 225 X 5, 275 X 5, 325 X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5.
Decline Bench Press: 190 X 1, 3, 5, 7, 1, 3, 5, 7.
Curl: 60s X 1 ,3 5, 7, 1, 3, 5, 7.

It was a good workout in a new weight room. The old one is being remodeled by the university, and I'm at a different facility for the next two months. All the exercises went well. I adjusted my starting dead lift position so that my low back is a little be less arched with the butt closer to the heels. The lifts felt good; challenging towards the end without going to failure. The same was true for the DPBs and curls. It feels like I'm in a good space with these lifts and can probably bump the DL by 15 instead of 10 when I make (2, 4, 6, 8) X 2 in a few weeks.


#10

BW: 180.2 By the new scale.

Front Squat: 45 X 5, 115 X 5, 135 X 5, 155 X 5, 180 X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
DBMP: 55s X 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4 ,2 ,2, 2.
Pull Up - Neutral Grip: BW 35 : 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 2.
I'm going to bump the extra weight on the pull-ups to 40#.
Intervals on the rowing machine.


#11

BW: Forgot to use the scale

Power Cleans: 150 X 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Floor Press: 90s X 1, 3, 5, 7, 1, 3, 5, 5, 3, 2, 1.
Pull-Up (wide grip): BW 25 X 1, 3, 5, 6, 1, 3, 5, 5, 3, 2, 1.

Rowing Intervals.


#12

BW: 181.9

DL: 135 X 5, 225 X 5, 275 X 5, 325 X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
MP: 55#/ X 4 ,3 ,2 ,1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Pull-Up (Neutral Grip) BW 40: 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I felt like I was in a sweet spot or zone with the MP. I've been working at 55#/ arm for the last five or six weeks. I think I'm ready to move up to the 60s.

I was a bit surprised with my body weight. I was pretty good this weekend but had an unintentional cheat meal last night; just a lot more carbs than usual. I don't feel like I've put on a lot of fat, and I have noticed that if I've been on low carbs for a while and then have a big dose, my weight spikes. There have been some articles which talk about this. If the pattern holds, I should lose a bit of this by tomorrow.

All in all, things seem to be going well.


#13

BW: 181.7

Front Squat: 45X5, 115X5, 135X5, 155X5, 180 X 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 8.
Decline Bench Press: 190X2, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 8.
DB Curl: 60s X 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 8.

I forgot my log at the office and had to go from memory. As a result, I did (2, 4, 6, 8) X 2 instead of (1, 3, 6, 7) X 2 for the Front Squat. Not a problem, really. As I made all reps in all exercises today, I'll be adding weight in all the exercises next week and dropping the reps to (2, 3, 5) X 3.

As for perceived effort, as has been the case most of the time, the last couple reps of the set with the most reps were the most difficult. Given the weight and reps I'm using, I'm sure my 1RM is higher in all the lifts than my working weight. I'm not even curious to even find out. I'm content with the steady progress and not burning out. The way I look at it is if the system continues working as it has, in a year I'll be front squatting 240, DBP 250, and using 120# dumbbells for curls.


#14

Anatomy of an organic deload week.

Okay, my workout last Friday consisted of this:
BW: 180.6

Power Clean: 150 X 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Dumb Bell Military Press: 60s X 3, 1; 55s X 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 4.
Okay, I definitely jumped the weight too fast. Live and learn. For the next DBMP workout, I'll stick at 55 but increase the reps; maybe start at five or six. I'll see how it all feels when I get there.
Pull-up: BW 45 X 3, 1. BW 40 X 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 5, 4.

I had every intention of working out on Tuesday, the gym would be closed for the 4th, but a chimney happened on the way to the gym. Let me explain.

I'm in the process of doing some structural work and renovation on my house. One of the things that had to go away was an old, non-functioning chimney. I had side-vented the furnace and water heater and taken the chimney down below the roof-line years ago. Basically, I had two floors of chimney to remove. I slated time Saturday, Sunday and Monday to the task and just worked at it for ~6, 4, and 6 hours respectively. I was tired by the time the last brick had been tossed onto the pile in the driveway, but I had no idea how tired.

Tuesday I went to work intending to hit the gym. But it was a no go. I was exhausted. I felt like a zombie and every. Wednesday was worse. Thursday was a bit better, but I thought I'd go on Friday. I had some dental work scheduled for Friday morning and thought the gym would be good after. However, after an hour in the chair and the remnants of chimney fatigue and also needing to pull some building permits all influenced the decision to simply count this as a deload week. According to my record, the last time I took any time off was in March. So I guess I'm due.

There's also another factor that might be contributing to the fatigue. I ran out of vitamins a few weeks ago and will replenish them today. I've been eating less fruit in an effort to reduce my "fatty" carbs and am wondering if part of the fatigue I'm feeling is a lack of some essential vitamin. Perhaps. I'll find out shortly.

That's about it: fourteen hours of relatively heavy manual labor possible vitamin deficiency dental work equaled a deload week.

I'll hit the gym Monday with a bunch of dead lifts.


#15

BW: 183.1. Interesting take ten days off and gain 2.5 pounds. The thing is I'm at least as lean as I was ten days ago.

DL: 135 X 5; 225 X 5; 275 X 5; 325 X 1, 3, 5, 7, 1, 3, 5, 5/2.
The last set I did five, was huffing and puffing so I took about fifteen seconds to catch my breath then did the last two reps.

Floor Press: 90s X 1, 3, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Pull Up (Wide Grip): BW 25: 1, 3, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

My strength dropped a bit in terms of reps on the Floor Press. One factor is time, it's been about two weeks since I've done the exercise. The other factor is the dead lift. I need to get more data, but it seems like I have a drop in the exercises this follow DLs.

Wide Grip Inclined Neck Press: 45# X 20. I read TCs live spill about this exercise and thought I'd give it a try.


#16

Catching Up

Wednesday 7/13/2011
BW: 185.3

FS: 45X5, 115X5, 135X5, 185X2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5.
DBMP: 55#/X 3, 2, 1, BW X 6 negatives from the handstand pushup start, 3, 2, 1, 5N
Pull-up: BW 40 X 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.
Neck Press: 50# X 20

Today: 7/15/2011
BW: 182.2

Dumb Bell Swings: 85# X 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9.
Decline Bench Press: 200# X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5.
Curl: 65#/ X 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5.
Neck Press: 55# X 20
3 Minute Body Weight Dip Challenge: 80 Reps.

Today was kind of a landmark with the 200 pound decline bench press. I've pressed more than 200 before, but never with this solid of form and for as many reps. In some ways it feels like I've broken through a psychological barrier. I wonder how far this system will take me. Also, I jumped up ten pounds in the bench press. I had been doing five pound increments earlier, but it started feeling too easy when I increased the weight and dropped the reps. With the ten pound increment, the weight felt heavy but not so heavy that I got stapled; even with the last set of five reps. Although I've been operating in a sweet spot with this system for a while, it feels like I'm hitting even closer to the center.


#17

Back to the Internet

Monday: 7/18/2011
BW: 181.9

DL: 135 X 5, 225 X 5; 275 X 5; 325 X 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 3.
DBMP: 4, 3, 2, 1, 6N, 4, 3, 2, 1, 6N.
Pull-Up: BW 40 X 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1.

It was freaking hot on Monday. Like 105 plus with the head index, and I was working out in an un-air conditioned gym. While I missed on the last set of eight reps in the dead lift, it was a good choice to stop at three. The lifts felt tough, and, although I might have been able to push myself for more, I know from previous dead lifting injuries it's just not worth it. I'll go for (2, 4, 6, 8) X 2 again next time.

I skipped Wednesday workout because the gym was closed due to the heat.

Today: 7/22/2011
Floor Press: 90#/ X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.
Wide Grip Pull-Up: BW 25 X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.
Front Squat: 45 X 5; 115 X 5; 135 X 5; 185 X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
Neck Press: 60 X 20.


#18

7/25/11
BW: 180.6
DL: 135X5; 225X5; 275X5; 325X2, 4, 6, 8, 2, 4, 6, 4/3/1.
DBMP: 55#/ X 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. 8N
Pull-Up: BW 40 X 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
NP: 65 X 15

7/27/11
BW: 178.6
FS: 45X5; 115X5; 135X5; 185X1, 3, 5, 7, 1, 3, 5, 7.
DBP: 200X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
DB Curl: 65#/ X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6.
NP 65 X 20.

The best insight of the week has been gaining a better understanding of salt in my diet. I've been tracking my weight regularly and noticed a sharp increase and then a relatively sharp decrease. After dismissing radical muscle or fat gains or losses, I remembered two things. The first was about the time I had the increase I had basically stopped drinking Powerade and Gatorade. At the time, I thought the extra calories were a problem. Then, about the start of this week, I started drinking it again. I forget the exact reason why. The second thing I remember was how freaking hot it was last week. A few things clicked.

I think what happened was due to the hot weather and reduced sodium intake via the lack of exercise drinks, my body started retaining water. Thanks to Scott Abel for his article a while ago about this topic. The water retention corresponded with a less lean look. Once I returned to the electrolyte drinks and added a bit more salt back into my diet, the water weight went down and my previous level of leanness returned.

So, the experiment now is to track and determine my necessary daily salt needs. I've experimented with this before. I have to be a bit careful because getting too much salt is absolutely no fun. I'll measure what's going on by body weight, energy, and visual body composition changes. My sense is 32 oz. of electrolyte drink and about 2 table spoons of salt a day is a good starting point with weather and activity level influencing the requirements.


#19

All Caught Up
7/29/11
BW: 181.3 - Go figure.
Dumb Bell Swings: 95# X 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
I accidentally grabbed the 95# instead of the 85#. Rather than go for sets of ten, I did a decreasing pyramid. I'll stick with 95# and next time go for more total reps

DBMP: 55#/ X 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 6N, 3, 2, 1, 6N.
Pull-Up (neutral grip): BW 40 X 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1.
Neck Press: 70 X 20.
Rowing Intervals.

Okay, the whole weight fluctuation thing is a bit confusing. I'm going to track things more carefully and see if I can find the factors. Other than that, I'm getting stronger and feeling good with all the lifts.


#20

BW: 181.2

DL: 135X5; 225X5; 275X5; 335X2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5, 2, 3, 5.
Floor Press: 90#/ X 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 6, 2, 4, 2.
Pull-up (WG) BW 25 X 2, 4, 5, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3.
Neck Press: 75 X 13.

It was a good workout. I bumped up the dead lift weight by 10 pounds and dropped the reps. The second and third sets of five were challenging but I did them. I'm making slow progress on the floor press and have found my limits in the wide-grip pull-up. Neck press is moving forward slowly also; just a finisher.

The biggest thing currently is tracking my salt intake and noticing the body composition changes. Basically, I'm taking in more salt and getting a leaner look. This is good to know and lock into my memory. I've had times where I've eaten more salt but then tapered off. I'd run out and not get any for a while and then I'd be out of the habit. But, really, the leanness change just because of the salt is pretty cool. I'm not sure how much longer it will take to stabilize, but when I do I'll have a much better understanding of how much fat I've got and how quickly it's adding or subtracting from my system.