TRAINING PROGRESSION – SETS TO FAILURE

To be successful, strength training must become a year round occurrence. EVERY training session and EVERY set is important. It is therefore crucial that you understand how to adjust the weight you are lifting to ensure maximal gains. The rep range for every set is listed on the workout card. In some cases you will see a rep range of 8 to 12. This means that you should reach positive failure somewhere between 8 and 12.

POSITIVE FAILURE – refers to the point at which you can no longer perform a perfect repetition and your spotter has to assist you. It is important that you push yourself to get as many reps as possible.

PERFECT REPETITION – all reps should be slow and controlled. None of these exercises are designed to be ballistic movements. Make sure the tension is always on the muscle. A good rule of thumb is to keep a 2-second count while raising the weight, and a 4-second count while lowing it.

FORCED REPS – for the exercises where forced reps are required, that simply means that after you reach positive failure, your spotter assists you through 3 or more additional reps with the weight you are using.

WEIGHT ADJUSTMENT – there are two necessary elements here. First is understanding the rep range, and the second is recording of reps for every set. For example, if a rep range is 8 to 12, the point at which you reach positive failure will determine your weight for next week. You must record this number on your sheet so you have a reference for the following week. Your weight adjustments only take place on the same workout, i.e.; your results on a day 1 lift will set your weights for the next week’s day 1 lift only. Also, DO NOT COUNT FORCED REPS when recording on your sheet. Follow this table as a rule to adjust your weights. (This illustrates an 8 to 12 rep range, adjust it as the range adjusts).

< 8 REPS – DECREASE 5 POUNDS
8, 9, 10, or 11 REPS – SAME WEIGHT NEXT WORKOUT
12 or 13 REPS – INCREASE 5 POUNDS
14 OR MORE REPS – INCREASE 10 POUNDS

Notice that the table goes beyond 12 reps. The only time you will ever stop before you reach positive failure is if a set is prescribed for a certain amount of reps (i.e., 3 Way Shoulder 2x12). So if possible go beyond the rep range. If you get further than 2 reps over the range, use your judgement on how much you increase for the next week.

TRAINING PROGRESSION – SETS TO REPS

It is often more difficult to determine the proper weight to use on an exercise when you are aiming for a certain number of reps. These type of sets are often seen as multiple sets (sometimes only 2, but usually 3 or 4). The primary goal is to be able to finish on the last set with the heaviest weight that you can possibly use to perform the prescribed number of reps with perfect technique. Depending on the skill level of the exercise, you may have to take a different path to get there. Exercises such as 3 WAY SHOULDER, LUNGES, STEP UPS, BACK EXTENSION, LATERAL RAISE, and FRONT RAISE are not very skilled exercises where you may need warm up sets to get to your top weight. On these particular exercises you should choose 1 weight that you will use for all the sets, and when you can complete all the sets with that weight, use your judgement on how much to increase for next week. Other exercises that are more skilled such as PUSH PRESS, FRONT SQUAT, and INCLINE require a different plan of attack. Again the primary goal is to use the heaviest weight possible on the last set, but how you get there will change. On these exercises it is recommended that you use the first couple of sets to build up to the final set. This will allow for a more specific style of warm-up and will also allow for heavier weights to be lifted on the final set. Remember that the OLYMPIC LIFTS differs from the other exercises in that they are explosive movements. Make sure that you are able to perform each rep quickly before you begin to progress with your weights.