In this chapter

- The proper rep and set relationships for muscle size

- The proper rep and set relationships for strength gains

- The proper rep and set relationships for power gains

There is no perfect rep and set scheme. Depending on the individual's fiber makeup, his experience, and needs it can vary greatly. One must keep in mind that, depending on your fiber dominance, the adequate volume of strength work will vary greatly. Someone who is fast-twitch dominant will benefit from lower volumes of training and will probably overtrain with a high volume approach (people are sometimes amazed that some of my athletes will train for only 30 minutes yet are stronger, more powerful, and have a better physique than 99% of people). On the other hand, slow-twitch dominant individuals will need a higher volume of work to gain size and they have a lower risk of overtraining as their work capacity is generally higher. However, one law holds true, the amount of reps and the amount of sets are inversely proportional. This means that if the reps are low, the sets should be higher and vice-versa. The following graphs will give you a good starting point when planning the number of reps and sets.

Reps/Sets relationships for hypertrophy gains per exercise for a mixed fiber type

Reps

80% of maximum

Intensity (load)

60% of maximum

Reps/Sets relationships for hypertrophy gains per exercise for a fast-twitch dominant

Reps

80% of maximum

Intensity (load)

60% of maximum

Reps/Sets relationships for hypertrophy gains per exercise for a slow-twitch dominant

Reps

Sets

80% of maximum

Intensity (load)

60% of maximum

Reps/Sets relationships for strength gains per exercise for a mixed fiber type

Reps

95% of maximum

Intensity (load)

80% of maximum

Reps/Sets relationships for strength gains per exercise for a slow-twitch dominant

Reps

95% of maximum

Intensity (load)

80% of maximum

Reps/Sets relationships for power gains per exercise for a mixed fiber type

Reps

Sets

60% of maximum

Intensity (load)

15% of maximum

Reps

Reps/Sets relationships for power gains per exercise for a fast-twitch dominant

60% of maximum

Intensity (load)

15% of maximum

Reps/Sets relationships for power gains per exercise for a slow-twitch dominant

Reps

Sets

60% of maximum

Intensity (load)

15% of maximum

One important thing to understand is that the more experienced a trainee is, the less he will benefit from the rep and set schemes on the right side of each graph and the bigger the effect of the methods on the left side will be. This is why as you gain experience you should increase your average training intensity, decrease the number of reps per set, and increase the number of sets per exercise.

Number of exercises

Training volume, or the total workload, is also affected by the number of exercises per training session. Athletes and bodybuilders follow different rules: athletes need to train energy systems and movements, while bodybuilders need to train muscles.

This means that the training split used by both types of trainees as well as the number (and type) of exercises to use will be very different. Bodybuilders should divide their training program into muscle groups, devoting one or two training days per week to each muscle group. For bodybuilders, each muscle group should be worked with 3-5 exercises.

Athletes need to divide their sessions into broader classes, I prefer the upper body/lower body split for athletes. In this case, most of the exercises should be multi-joint movements. 2-4 multi-joint exercises are used per workout and you can add 1 or 2 isolation exercises at the end of each session.

The training split will be covered in more detail in the next chapter.

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