sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

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sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby vegan hal » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:39 pm

so i've been doing the stronglifts 5x5 since last August. the plan was to up the weight 5lbs per exercise, per day. this worked fine when the weight was light, but now that it's getting heavier, I can;t always pull it off. OHP gets tough, squats I am able to do, but the weight is getting a bit scary. (even thought I have an escape route) my weight increase progress is slowing down and that is likely normal as it gets heavier.

also, I am repeatedly straining a few muscles. (left calf, left bicep) in hitting that 5x5 in the full weight.

i experimented this past week on going a bit lighter and hitting the 5x5 without much worry of failure or strain. and not upping the weight each day. felt pretty good. hit a PB on BP too.

thestoatyone suggested that perhaps i switch to 3x3 on the heavier lifts. This is an interesting idea as I could lift heavier for sure at 3x3.

what do you think the benefits of heavier weight at 3x3 over lighter weight at 5x5? Maybe it's time for me to customize my routine a bit.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby baldy » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:08 pm

Tough question!
Most places say 1-5 reps for strength, 5-8 strength/growth, 8-15 for bodybuilding. Then everyone argues about it :)

When I did 5x5 I found I did not get used to heavy weights so I did not improve my 1RM that easily. When I went for a 1RM the difference in weight felt like a totally different lift. So 3x3 is probably a good idea.

BUT, I would say stick to 5x5 until you get to 1.5xbw squat and 2xbw dl before changing routines. If you get stuck just deload and build up again then smash through your 5x5 pb.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby thestoatyone » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:16 pm

How I envisioned it happening:

5x5, increasing the weight until you start stalling,

then drop to 3x3 resuming at the next weight up (e.g. if you'd got up to 100lb press 5x5 and were stalling, go to 3x3 at 105lb) The drop in volume will make this feel like taking a break.

Continue increasing at 5lb a time until you start stalling,

then try for a new 1rm at the workout.

Then drop to 5x5 at about 80-85% of your shiny new 1rm.

Worked v.nice for me.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby Talyn » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:32 pm

If you stay committed, both options are going to work, there is enough evidence out there to support either option. Personally if I had to choose between a 3x3 at a higher weight, or deloading but staying on the 5x5, I'd take the former. If you are concerned about the lower total reps, just add more sets. I have found doing 10x2, 6x3 etc, far more productive for squats than 5x5.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby vegan hal » Tue Apr 20, 2010 6:59 pm

hmm. OK some good info here. sounds like no definitive answer, but you all are leaning toward me going to 3x3. i'm not quite at 1.5xBW on squat yet though. and my DL is far from 2xBW.

I think i'll try 3x3 for squat, OHP and maybe BP starting next week. and see how it goes.

thanks you guys for the insight/advice.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby thestoatyone » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:08 pm

As a note, Heavy weight will teach you better form. I thought my squat form was fine until I started maxing out lately...
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby vegan hal » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:12 pm

i have failed on squat a couple times. it's a bit scary especially since I lift at home. no spotter. I do have a safe escape route, but i always fear the failure on this and BP the most.

you are right though, I really see how important form is when this happens. keeping the back straight. keeping on my heels. squeezing the glutes, etc.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby ninearms » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:15 pm

Personally I'd just reset your numbers *when you do actually stall, not because you feel like you might stall soon*, and carry on doing what you're doing. Or switch to Starting Strength. Either way, see this link for when and how to reset:

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/ ... rogressing

3x3r on the press will have you stalling in about 2 weeks. Better off doing 5x10r.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby thestoatyone » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:23 pm

Do you have some saw horses? Make great catch bars (cheers 9A!)
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby ninearms » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:44 pm

thestoatyone wrote:Do you have some saw horses? Make great catch bars (cheers 9A!)


Don't thank me - thank Dan John.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby thestoatyone » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:58 pm

He is da man. Funny too.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby vegan hal » Wed Apr 21, 2010 2:30 pm

ninearms wrote:Personally I'd just reset your numbers *when you do actually stall, not because you feel like you might stall soon*, and carry on doing what you're doing. Or switch to Starting Strength. Either way, see this link for when and how to reset:

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/ ... rogressing

3x3r on the press will have you stalling in about 2 weeks. Better off doing 5x10r.


hey ninearms. thanks for that link. very informative reading. makes a lot of sense.

1 question why would 3x3 cause me to stall before 5x10? seems backwards? or are you saying i should do 5x10 at lighter weight?
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby ninearms » Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:33 pm

vegan hal wrote:
ninearms wrote:Personally I'd just reset your numbers *when you do actually stall, not because you feel like you might stall soon*, and carry on doing what you're doing. Or switch to Starting Strength. Either way, see this link for when and how to reset:

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/ ... rogressing

3x3r on the press will have you stalling in about 2 weeks. Better off doing 5x10r.


hey ninearms. thanks for that link. very informative reading. makes a lot of sense.

1 question why would 3x3 cause me to stall before 5x10? seems backwards? or are you saying i should do 5x10 at lighter weight?


5x10r at a lighter weight. The press is probably the hardest lift to progress, and the one that takes the longest. IME volume is the most important factor in increasing the press. 3x3 in the press will have you missing lifts far too quickly I think. The press requires a lot of muscle, and 5x10r will give you that in buckets.
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Re: sets/reps vs weight ratio question?

Postby vegan hal » Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:19 pm

ninearms wrote:5x10r at a lighter weight. The press is probably the hardest lift to progress, and the one that takes the longest. IME volume is the most important factor in increasing the press. 3x3 in the press will have you missing lifts far too quickly I think. The press requires a lot of muscle, and 5x10r will give you that in buckets.


I see. So I think I will go to 3x3 for the Squat starting next week, and maintain 1x5 or maybe 3x3 on DL.

today i did 5x10xbw on dips where I usually do 5x5x(bw+20lb). that felt good.
and i did 5x10 on both BP and BO barbell rows. going to 5x10 on those forced me to really drop the weight, but boy did i feel it. I will try it on Friday w/ OHP too.
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