I have been an advocate of single-set strength training for a long time, but I also include multiple set training quite often with my clients. Multiple sets performed for a single exercise has been a mainstay since the beginning of strength training and is still a fantastic way to exercise. I use a host of different approaches for various reasons with all my clients and sometimes figuring out the correct amount of weight to use for a specific number of reps can be tricky at times. There are many ways to help zero in on the weight/rep conundrum, but an approach I use now and again is a simple spin-off of single set training. Allow me to explain.
We’ll use the chest press in this example. Let’s say you can use 150 pounds and perform 12 perfect reps and if you tried, you wouldn’t get number 13 in good form. That is your PBSS (Personal Best Single Set) with 150 pounds in that exercise. Now, using that weight, you can perform any of the following multi-set options:
Option 1) Add 50% of the reps to your PBSS (that would give you 18) and do 2 sets. In this case you would be doing 2 sets of 9 reps with 150lbs.
Option 2) Double the reps (24) and spread that out over 3 sets. This would give you then 3 sets of 8 reps with 150lbs.
Option 3) Here you will use two-and-a-half times your reps (30) and perform 4 sets. In this case you would do 8-8-7-7 with 150lbs.
Rest approximately 30-45 seconds between sets for upper body, 45-60 seconds for lower body. Once you hit your numbers without struggling (not training to muscular failure), add 3-5% to the weight. After a couple weeks, use the 150 pounds again and see if you can beat your 12-rep best.
I would love to hear from you if you use this approach and let me know what your results are.
A few years back, I was the editor-in-chief of a newsletter called
This newsletter was a collection of articles contributed by strength coaches all over the country covering all aspects of strength and conditioning for the serious athlete and coach. Currently it is on Amazon as an e-book for $4.99 but from December 13th-15th I am offering it FREE as a download as a Christmas giving gesture. I hope you take advantage of the offer and enjoy the material. – Fred Fornicola
Stress is a term that is freely thrown about – especially this time of year with holiday’s, end-of-year deadlines, etc., etc. – and a good way to combat those feelings of stress are to exercise and eat properly. Big surprise, right, but it’s true. Even light exercise helps reduce tension and worry and eating wholesome foods (as you should be doing year round any way) is even more important when high levels of stress is present by helping the immune system stay strong. Taking a quality multiple vitamin (I recommend Metagenics) couldn’t hurt either.
I often have clients ask me about what they can do when they have limited time or equipment, are feeling stressed or can’t find motivation to be active and I remind them of a little saying that I have that “A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing”.
What that means, simply, is that any activity: do a set or two of push-ups, go for a mile run, practice your body weight squats, take a walk around the block of couple times, maybe even park further away when you go to the mall….anything can be better than doing nothing and believe it or not, it all adds up. Too often the media represents an unrealistic approach to exercise and health, making it much more complicated than it needs to be therefore paralyzing most folks into doing nothing. Hey, remember P90X…well if you didn’t have an hour or more to do the daily workout what would you end up doing for the day? NOTHING! How can that possibly be good for you?
Now, of course, we need to rest too, but I am referring to someone who may strength train once per week but is sedentary the other six days of the week. And keep in mind that with holidays comes more stress and more caloric indulgence so staying active is even more important for your overall health.