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Decreasing Gain with Increasing Sets?

Discussion in 'Weight Training/Bulking' started by astroguy, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. astroguy

    astroguy Well-Known Member

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    Here's perhaps an odd question. I was watching a YouTube clip from a personal trainer a few nights ago and he was answering a question from someone about "How many sets should I do?"

    His response was that something like 75% of any gain is going to happen from your first set, and then you decrease from there (I think he threw out like 10% from a second set, 5% from a third, etc.).

    My first question here is, ┬┐does anyone know if this is actually true? Or roughly true -- the idea that as you increase sets, you're really not doing too much for yourself in terms of gaining muscle in the long run?


    My second question is related and it's basically checking what I thought was the case for how to figure out weight versus reps versus sets. My understanding is that if you want to really put on muscle, you want higher weights, fewer reps, and more sets (assuming you rep to failure of form). If you are going more for toning/endurance/maintaining while losing fat, then lower weights, higher reps, lower sets is generally the way to go. I realize that these are broadly general statements and there will be all kinds of complicating factors, but in general is that the case?
     
  2. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    I can't find it right now but a few years back somebody posted a study that showed muscle gain depended more on total reps then anything else. If you got between 25 and 40 reps it worked. It didn't make a huge difference if you went 1x25 or 40x1.

    Now most people will tell you for absolute strength you should stick to higher weights and therefore sets with less reps. But it's too hard to do nothing by 1RM every workout.

    Then you have a question on how you workout. Think of breathing squats or cluster training. You're pushing yourself harder with higher weights even if you're doing higher reps.

    The other thing is your body adapts. You're better off changing every so often and not looking for one perfect rep range. When you hit a plateau it can help to just change up your rep range.

    To build muscle you'll need to eat to support the muscle growth and add progressive overload. If you're getting stronger and eating enough you'll build muscle.
     
  3. JoeSchmo

    JoeSchmo Well-Known Member

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  4. KT Monahan

    KT Monahan Active Member

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  5. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    No it was a real peer reviewed study.
     
  6. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    If you can lift ANYTHING for 25 to 40 reps.......you aren't lifting for strength.

    It's not so much how many reps you do ( with the exception of squats....which can produce testosterone when done in the 20 rep range and at a PRESCRIBED weight)........it's more to do with HOW you do the reps.....the major factor being time under tension. (Unless you are training for power/speed....where the reps are done much faster at a lower weight).

    For bodybuilding/muscle building at the least:- one set of 8 reps to failure will do it...although HIT addicts prefer you to do 12.

    If you do three sets of 8...failing on the last rep of the last set.....you are basically wasting your time IMO. (Unless the first two sets were warmup).
     
  7. sauron256

    sauron256 Active Member

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  8. Robert2006

    Robert2006 Active Member

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    Now add five pounds to the bar every week. After a year tell me you aren't stronger.
     
  9. HevyMetal

    HevyMetal Well-Known Member

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    If you are adding 5lbs. per week to every exercise you do for the entire year......you are training wrong.

    If you can only lift a 5lb dumbell to start with and you add 5lbs. the next week...that was a 100% increase in weight.

    Whereas if you can lift 100lbs and you add 5lbs.......that was a 5% increase in weight.

    I seriously doubt a 5lb increase weekly on all lifts for a straight year, week in week out without a cycle of some sort.

    I will give you that you may be stronger than when you first started.....but if you stick to a 40 rep system you will not be as strong as were you to go a strength system. ( Check out Doug Hepburn training).

    Chad Waterbury is a bodybuilder trainer. That is his opinion. There are dozens of other top-notch
    trainers who would disagree with him. Arthur Jones being one. Google when he was training Casey Viator for the Bicep Curl.

    If I can do 2 pushups and I increase my ability to 40 pushups and I either do 40 straight or break it up into 20 sets of 2, I can do MORE pushups but I will not be much stronger in terms of weight lifted.

    There are guys around who have worked up to, say, a 20 rep set of squats with 200lbs. for example. They are ( I give you that) stronger than when they started........but they are not even close to what they could be for max weight reps.

    The human body is not capable of lifting MAX weight for 20 to 40 reps because of the way muscle fibers work.

    If I do 20 sets of 2 for pushups and I add weight for that to the entire
    set.....I'm not going to be adding much weight.

    Time Under Tension......let's say I do 10 pushups as fast I can. I will develop power but not brute strength. Let's say I do them as slow as I can........I will get more fiber stimulation..but....there is a finite cutoff point doing this in terms of benefit. If I hold that pushup in half-position for ,say, 5 minutes....I am then building endurance, not strength.

    For bodybuilding purpose (hypertrophy), the faster you do a rep the less impact it has on growth fibers generally. That is why they developed "cadence".

    There are all sorts of reasons why you might be doing a rep of anykind "fast". But in bodybuilding (if that is what you are doing), "fast" generally speaking is not good...except if you are performing certain Olympic lifts as part of your program. Then again you are not performing an Olympic lift to see how fast you can do it....you are performing it this way because "slow" doesn't work in segments of these lifts , basically.

    If I do, let's say, 3 sets of 8 for Bench Press and I am lifting,let's say, 100lbs and I fail on the last rep of the last set......with a 3/2 cadence.......I am lifting for hyper trophy. Sure, I will get stronger than when I started over time. But the fact that I lifted that weight for 24 reps means I couldn't possibly have given it my all for brute strength because the fibers in my muscles that control brute strength are not capable of that.

    In bodybuilding circles, much is made of occasionally testing the "one rep max".....which is self explanatory. You test your one rep max because there is no such thing as a ten-rep MAX.
    If you can do it ten times it isn't MAX as far as brute strength goes.

    If my one rep max for bench is, say, 300lbs...........I'm not going to be able to do that 20 to 40 reps.

    Even Pete Sisco (who is known for reps that are partial MAX EFFORT) is in the 8 to 10 second range for the "hold" on a rep. So the T.U.T. principle has merit and effect on a range of exes.

    A straight out-of-the -box cookie-cutter bodybuilding program where you are assigned a fixed number of exercises,sets and reps in the 8 to 12 rep for 3 sets range IMO has limited long term value. It needs to be cycled and periodized with a strength element also. One plays off the other....strength phase and hypertrophy phase with built in periodizing to prevent burn-out.
    Along with the correct choice of cycled exercises that play into overall complete growth.

    Most of the mags, supplement industry, and bodybuilder gurus go with what sells.
    What sells?.......Big muscles and beach bodies.

    Big muscles= hypertrophy.

    How often have you heard " I want to look like Doug Hepburn" or "I want to look like my overweight beergut Karate instructor" or " I want to look like that scrawny little Oly lifter that can Overhead Press 200lbs." That's right....never.

    How often have you heard " I want to look like Arnold The Great".....ad infinitum.

    So most often they'll have you focussing on hypertrophy reps only...with plenty of fat-burning cardio. Because you let yourself go for 8 years and now you've only got 3 weeks before it's summer again.

    And this is where the great debate always begins...which is " how many reps and sets should I do?" And the common answer will be " 3 or 4 sets of yadda yadda , failing on the last rep of the last set"

    If the muscle didn't recieve SOME kind of microtrauma at a given weight that engages/taxes certain fibres....there will be little growth.

    If a muscle hits failure at 20 consecutive reps.....you probably "failed " your endurance fiber.
    If a muscle hits failure at 5 to 8 reps....you "failed' your fast -twitch fibers....which grow more than endurance fiber.

    Don't forget the gurus want you to lose weight as well......so 3 sets of failing on the last set will burn more calories . When most people show up at the coaches door for training, they are a blimp,nay,physical trainwreck begging for salvation.

    Plus......most people think that "more is better" for musclebuilding. So if someone designs you a program that has dozens and dozens of reps and sets....you are going to think that they are
    geniuses.
     
    #9 HevyMetal, Nov 19, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2011

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