Strength Training – 1 Top Set Or Several Sets At The Same Weight?

Strength Training – 1 Top Set Or Several Sets At The Same Weight?

By Andy Bolton


People often ask me whether they should do 1 top set
or several sets at the same weight.

My answer goes something like this…

Most of the time just do 1 top set.

For instance, let’s say you want to work up to a 5 rep
max (RM) on your squats. You have a goal of 315lbs
in mind.

Here is how I’d warm you up for that:

bar x 5 x 2

95lbs x 5 x 2

135lbs x 5 x 2

225lbs x 5

275lbs x 3

315lbs x 5

The goal of the warm up is simply to set you up for
your top set.

Now, on cold days, you may need more warm up
sets. I favour adding more lights sets, as opposed to
increasing the reps.

On really warm days, you may need less warm ups.
For instance, in the example above, if you were
feeling really warm, you may only need to go 225lbs x 3
and 275lbs x 1, before attacking 315lbs x 5.

Do you follow what I’m saying?

Now there are two major exceptions to this rule of
“ramping up”.

Firstly, if you need to add muscle mass, you may choose
to do more sets at the same weight, or more reps on
your warm up sets.

The reason for this is because to add muscle you normally
need more volume. So adding sets and/or reps is the
logical route to take.

Secondly, beginners often do well on several sets at
the same weight because they do not have the
technique dialed in enough to safely go for heavy 5 and
3 rep maxes.

So for your heavy squat, bench press and deadlift training,
stick to one heavy set most of the time. It is how I’ve
trained for 90% of my career and my 1214lbs squat
and 1008lbs deadlift show that it works pretty dam well :)

To find out more about how I put up those numbers and
to see how you can plan simple and highly effective
strength training cycles that will get you STRONG and help you
to avoid injury, get yourself a copy of my training DVD.

It is the best quality training DVD on the market. Period.
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