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.