Ok, this really needs to be cleared up once and for all.
In ‘Total Anabolism‘ I wrap up this subject with the following…
“The weight you are lifting on each and every set should be
light enough to allow 8 good reps, but heavy enough to prevent
you getting more than 12.”
However, there are still some questions lingering by readers and forum members about when weight should be increased.
It usually goes something like this,
“I have hit 12 reps on my 1st set of barbell curls. However, I do 3 sets of barbell curls. Do I wait until I hit 12 reps on all 3 sets, or just the first?”
Answer: Treat each set as an individual, separate unit.
If you perform 3 sets of barbell curls, increase the weight on any and every set where you hit 12 reps. To further clarify, here’s a sample biceps workout.
You can see that each set is an individual unit here. Anytime he hits 12 reps, he records a higher weight in the ‘Week 2’ box. If he hits less than 12 reps, he simply records the same weight again.
Now take a look at the ‘Week 2’ weight column and compare it to ‘Week 1’. You can see our guy here is making some good, steady progression. Will he hit 12 reps on those ‘higher weight sets’ next week? Probably not, but that’s not the point.
Once again, he will reach failure in the growth-promoting rep range. Additionally, he probably WILL hit higher reps in those sets where the weight-lifted did not increase. And so it continues indefinitely. As long as he gets his diet right, he WILL succeed – he can bank on it!
By the way, you will probably need to reduce weight on successive sets of the same exercise. So, if you do 3 sets of EZ bar curls, it is unlikely that you will be able to reach failure in the 8-12 rep range by using the same weight in the second and third set, as you did in the first.
I am reducing weight on almost every set of a particular exercise. I am using my 2-3 minutes rest period to make these adjustments. A sample might look like this:
(Set 1) EZ Bar – 50kg – 11 reps
(Set 2) EZ Bar – 47.5kg – 10 reps
(Set 3) EZ Bar – 45kg – 10 reps
I hope this hammers the point home once and for all. If not, let me know so I can further clarify as necessary.
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