Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

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Cellar Yeti
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Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#1 Postby Cellar Yeti » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:17 am

I like the 5x5, I get good strength results, but doing more than one or two exercises per day on it is hard on my joints. Would it be beneficial if I used the 5x5 for one or two primary compounds, and then did 3x8/4x8 or something along that line for the rest of the exercises?
Last edited by Cellar Yeti on Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges.

#2 Postby chewybaws » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:29 am

Rep/set schemes are fairly useless without 1RM percentages unless you're still a true beginner and doing a linear program (where you add a small increment every workout without stalling too much).

If you still want a linear program that adds weight weekly but mixes up reps/light days and stuff, there's the Madcow program (however I don't think squatting 3x/week will be suited for you).

To be honest, for you I'd recommend 5/3/1. You only squat/deadlift once a week and you pretty much pick your own assistance (however I'd try sticking to one of the templates at first - Periodization Bible could be cool to switch things up for you with some higher rep work).

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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges.

#3 Postby Cellar Yeti » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:23 am

Basically I was reading about the advantages where different rep schemes come into play. I know the 5-10 rep range is optimal for both strength and hypertrophy, so I am looking to incorporate those ranges into my routine. 5x5 and 3x8/4x8 or 3x10/4x10.
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#4 Postby Cellar Yeti » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:18 pm

Ok, so I did a bit more reading about set and rep ranges and I know the optimal range for both strength and size is 5-10 reps if you're looking for strength and size.

I also read that often times sets over 3 can burn most people out. And as I recall on my 5x5 I did get over over trained.

So my new set and rep ranges I'm going to cycle are 3x5/3x8/3x10 and if I do well on those, 4x5/4x8/4x10.

I'm also going to do something utterly stupid and completely eliminate cardio on my 5 lifting days. I do not put body fat on, no matter how much of what kind of shit I eat. I think with my medical condition, how fast my metabolism is, and how much I lift even 15-20 a day of cardio is diverting a lot of calories away from my penultimate goal of gaining mass. And that by simply upping my weightlifting a bit I can counter any possible fat gain.

I calculated that I was doing roughly 45 minutes of lifting, and 20 minutes of cardio, so roughly 60-75 mnutes a day with warm ups and stuff.

2 minute rest times, 5-6 exercises of 3 sets.

I am going to aim for a total of 60min maximum of pure weight lifting including warm ups from now on.

My last question is how much rest between sets? I was doing 2 minutes for the longest while. Would switching to 3 be beneficial? Or does it not matter?
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#5 Postby chewybaws » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:04 pm

Cellar Yeti wrote:I also read that often times sets over 3 can burn most people out. And as I recall on my 5x5 I did get over over trained.
Like I said, rep/set schemes mean nothing without the intensity being stated. Doing over 3 sets of how many reps will burn you out? But more importantly how close to your max are you lifting?

If you're doing 5x5 regularly with over 80% of your 1RM of course you're going to burn out. You'd be attempting 5x5 maxes every time, and even doing 3x5 at this intensity regularly would be crazy and burn you out.

If you just go in and try and lift more than you did last time with a constant rep scheme (let's say 3x8) you're probably going to burn out just as quickly as if you done 5x5.

There's a million different loading and rep schemes. I wouldn't say you're a beginner, so pick a program that's not going to have you at your maximum all the time, and take recovery and speed days (less weight, more power) into consideration.

Rest time doesn't matter that much. Take at least 30-45s, anything after that is preference.

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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#6 Postby Cellar Yeti » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:28 pm

I've never burnt out on a 3x8. I don't really understand what you're getting at. I go in, add a bit more weight, lift, and leave a bit of extra gas in the tank. After 4-6 weeks, I take a week off.

What I am attempting to is to cut my cardio in half from 20 min a day to 10, and turn it into weightlifting by adding an extra set. Another reason I want to add another set is because I felt the 3x8 was too easy for me.

What I've decided on is is a 4 set routine. I'm starting with 4x8 and I'm going to see how I do on it. My plan is to use a 4x5 to break it up, and a 3x10 to deload.
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#7 Postby VeganEssentials » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:40 pm

Cellar Yeti wrote:Ok, so I did a bit more reading about set and rep ranges and I know the optimal range for both strength and size is 5-10 reps if you're looking for strength and size.


It always says that in theory, but as I point out from time to time, my best size and strength gains came on low reps, usually 1-3 reps per set for compound lifts. Years ago, I took my deadlift from 455 to 545 lbs. without ever going above 5 reps in a set, many times going into the gym and working up to a few heavy singles and calling it a day. Same with my squat, it was a lot of heavy low-rep work that made me stronger, higher rep stuff just kicked my endurance up a notch but that was it. The usual "X reps is best for X results" has a lot of factors to consider for what will work best for each person, as some will see better results on low rep, some on higher rep.


Cellar Yeti wrote:I also read that often times sets over 3 can burn most people out. And as I recall on my 5x5 I did get over over trained.


Like Chewy said, intensity will be the greatest factor in this. If you're, say, squatting sets of 5 at 90% of your 1RM, it's going to wear you out a lot more quickly than if you're doing that volume at 75% of your 1RM. If the last rep on each set is killing you to complete, then you're certainly giving it 100% intensity, but if you're training sets of 5 and feel you could have knocked out 6-8 reps each time, then you're using far less than full intensity on your sets. I think that's what Chewy was also getting at, the intensity factor will determine a lot more about where you're going to feel "burned out", particularly when you're giving it 100% on each set vs. working with weights you can make every set with easily enough.

Not to mention, some people just aren't great at adapting to higher rep stuff without a lot of work, even if the weights aren't at a high percentage of 1RM. Me, I'm primarily built for low-rep stuff for anything 85% of my max or above, but drop the weight slightly and I can rep out some lifts all day long and barely get fatigued (such as with upper back stuff, where I have great endurance with moderate weights, while my legs/lower back are taxed quickly even with lighter weights and higher reps). Even with upper back work, it took me almost 6 months of focusing on working to build endurance to handle more volume before I adapted, it was a long road to get there.

Cellar Yeti wrote:I'm also going to do something utterly stupid and completely eliminate cardio on my 5 lifting days.


Sounds to me like you're making the better decision here, not stupid at all. Cardio isn't going to help you gain mass, so get rid of it for a while and see how things work out. You can always add it back in later if you want, but for me, the less cardio, the better the gains.

Cellar Yeti wrote:My last question is how much rest between sets? I was doing 2 minutes for the longest while. Would switching to 3 be beneficial? Or does it not matter?


Rest periods are very much a personal preference more than anything else. If I'm really winded after a hard set, I may need 3-4 minutes of rest, such as after going all-out with squats. At the same time, sometimes I can get away with 1 minute of rest, it all depends on how I feel (I don't really time rest periods often, I usually just guess when it's about 2 minutes and repeat as necessary). The less rest you take, the more it's going to kick you in the butt on endurance and you might find that you're sucking wind before you are done with your sets, so if you want to build your endurance up, cut the rest periods. However, I found that my best gains came with making sure I was plenty rested for every set, so don't feel that you MUST race back to lift after 2 minutes exactly, it's not a magic number. If you feel that you're not ready after 2 minutes, give it a bit more time, and see how it impacts your lifting. Experiment, experiment, experiment, because the more you play around with to learn how your body responds, the more progress you'll make in time!
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#8 Postby Cellar Yeti » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:59 pm

Holy shit does that make sense. That's why dropping reps to 5 and raising the weight burns me out so quick. If I can do 180lb bench presses for an easy 4x8 but I can do 190lbs for 4x5 that brings me that much closer to my theoretical 1RM of 215lbs, meaning i'll burn out FAST, like I have in the past. So if I want to do a 4x5, I shouldn't bump the weight up a lot because I can, I shoulder stick close to my 4x8 180lb load.

This is fricken genius. It's not the rep scheme, it's the weight. I just calculated out all my theoretical 1RMs and find I usually do best working in the 80% range, that means I need to leave 20% in the tanks to keep from burning out. When I eat into my 20%, I burn.

That means there isn't too much advantage in doing low rep work for me.

Son of a biscuit. @_@ This is brilliant.
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#9 Postby VeganEssentials » Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:53 pm

A little bit of change in weight can make a huge difference in how your sets feel with different rep amounts, no question about it. I've had sets where I went heavy and struggled to knock out 3-4 reps, then dropped just about 10% of the total weight off the load, and then could rep the same thing out for 8-12 fairly easy. In theory, I should have maybe been able to just get 2-3 more in before fatigue, but it often ended up with being able to do a lot more. A little bit of change to the load of the weight used can have a great impact on how many reps you can knock out, I'm not sure why it is that way for some people, but that's just how it goes!
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#10 Postby jungleinthefrunk » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:09 pm

VeganEssentials wrote:A little bit of change in weight can make a huge difference in how your sets feel with different rep amounts, no question about it. I've had sets where I went heavy and struggled to knock out 3-4 reps, then dropped just about 10% of the total weight off the load, and then could rep the same thing out for 8-12 fairly easy. In theory, I should have maybe been able to just get 2-3 more in before fatigue, but it often ended up with being able to do a lot more. A little bit of change to the load of the weight used can have a great impact on how many reps you can knock out, I'm not sure why it is that way for some people, but that's just how it goes!


For Sure. On Arnold Presses I can do 25lb dumbbells for 12 but one time when I tried to move up to 30, I could only get out four....granted this was after some heavier regular DB presses but still...
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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#11 Postby chewybaws » Thu Sep 08, 2011 1:40 am

jungleinthefrunk wrote:
VeganEssentials wrote:A little bit of change in weight can make a huge difference in how your sets feel with different rep amounts, no question about it. I've had sets where I went heavy and struggled to knock out 3-4 reps, then dropped just about 10% of the total weight off the load, and then could rep the same thing out for 8-12 fairly easy. In theory, I should have maybe been able to just get 2-3 more in before fatigue, but it often ended up with being able to do a lot more. A little bit of change to the load of the weight used can have a great impact on how many reps you can knock out, I'm not sure why it is that way for some people, but that's just how it goes!


For Sure. On Arnold Presses I can do 25lb dumbbells for 12 but one time when I tried to move up to 30, I could only get out four....granted this was after some heavier regular DB presses but still...

When you do the math, that's a 20% weight increase - it's actually a huge weight increase and makes sense with the huge rep drop.


Of course when I said intensity in my posts above, I mean the actual weight (not how hard you're working or how much you leave in the tank).

Cellar, have you ever considered doing a cycle where the reps change every week? like a peaking program -
http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/PowerliftingPrograms.html. Probably the most basic example (the important part is what weight you use).

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Re: Mixing rep/set ranges/rest times.

#12 Postby jungleinthefrunk » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:46 am

HMM well I mean whenever I've gone up from 25lbs to 30lbs I can usually do significantly more so this was definitely weird for me. I guess its still pretty big tho...
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