Flip Your Sets to Blast Stagnation

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Question: I really have hit a stalling point in my workouts. I just can’t seem to get any stronger on just about anything. It seems like I have not added any substantial amount of weight to any of my exercises in months. I do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps on most sets and try to change exercises regularly but I’m going nowhere fast. What can I do to supercharge my training?
Answer: Since your workouts have stagnated with the typical routines you are using perhaps a different type of workout pattern would be in order. Instead of changing just your exercises, which is an excellent practice and helps prevent training plateaus, try changing the very essence of the exercises, the sets and reps. While it is true that the most productive training volume, the optimum number of reps for muscle growth, is 24 to 50 reps per muscle group or movement pattern the typical pattern of 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps is only one way to reach that rep goal. Though it does work and that is proven repeatedly in gyms all over the nation, you can reach a saturation point with that, just as you have. The amount of tension you place on a muscle or muscle group makes a difference. Another factor in muscle growth is how to excite your nervous system to respond and grow from the stress of training. To get change from your nervous system you have to stimulate both it and your muscles with maximum intensity. The standard 3 sets of 10 reps means that the first 3 to 4 reps of a typical set are too easy. We want growth from as many reps as possible and one way to do that is to flip your sets and reps.
Instead of the 3 sets of 10 reps try 10 sets of 3 reps. While this may seem strange on the surface it allows you to use much heavier weights, recruiting more muscle fibers in the process. You will find that using heavier weights requires longer rest periods for full recovery but we’re trying to maintain a training volume in which time is a factor. Full muscle recovery is usually up to 2 minutes which would mean one exercise would take almost 30 minutes with a full rest period. One other training method, which is brutal, is 10 sets of 10 reps and uses only a 30 second rest interval. That is a volume method and effective but the using only 30 seconds rest with the 3 sets of 10 and the heavier load per set would quickly wear you out and the training would not be fully beneficial.
To do this warm up with a weight that is 50% of your 1 rep max. For the 3 sets of 10, choose a weight that you can perform a maximum of 6 reps but only do 3. The rest interval for your first three sets is 30 to 45 seconds. For the next four sets rest 45 seconds to 1 minute. For the final 3 sets rest one minute to 90 seconds. For week 2 of this you will use the same weight but you will perform 4 reps per set and adjust your rest intervals as needed but no more than 90 seconds per rest interval. On week 3 of your routine you will again use the same weight as week 1 and 2 but get to add another rep to each set. Now you will perform a total of 50 reps with near maximum weight. If you want to continue to train with this routine, retest your 6 rep max and start the process with a new weight. This type of training can get you both stronger and leaner if you are willing.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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