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Author Topic: Thoughts on the sets across method  (Read 1277 times)
Yev33
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« on: September 21, 2013, 10:50:51 PM »

       I guess this is the most commonly used term for using the same weight for multiple sets. Regardless of what you call it I think just about everyone has used this at some point. And most likely it was when we were just starting out. Remember when we were weak and there was no point in pyramiding up to a set of 6 reps with 135lbs on the bench press. I remember I used to do three sets with it until I got to 10 reps and would up the weight for the next workout. There was no gray line between a warm up set and a work set, I would do my work sets with the same weight and those were the ones that counted.

       Well slowly but surely I began to gravitate back toward this approach for some time now. I first started with isolation movements. I started wondering why am I pyramiding my barbell curls after rows and chin ups. I am clearly warmed up enough, why not just hit 3-4 sets with same weight and call it a day. Then I decided to use this approach with my third and second movements of the workout. Now here I would do a warm up set or two just to get used to the movement and then 3-4 sets with the same weight in a given rep range.

       Now with the first movement of the workout I was very stubborn. I would definitely need 3-5 warm up sets before getting into heavy squats and deadlifts so I figured that 3-4 work sets on top of 3-5 warm up sets would be too much, so I kept pyramiding. Then recently I finally broke down and gave it a try for every single exercise in my routine.

Here is what I found:

I became much more aware of form and controlling the weight than ever before. Muscling through one set with sloppy form is one thing, doing it for 4 sets with the same weight is a whole different story. I found that I was forced to pick a weight that I could handle comfortably. This in turn led to feeling the intended muscle work better.  

I had to cut down the number of exercises per workout. If HIT training by definition is one all out set to failure, then this is the total opposite. Which made me wonder why more people didn't try to go this route when lowering their volume. You can cut work sets or cut the total number of exercises both result in lower volume. I figured I didn't need 3 different curl variations. I picked the one that was the most effective at the time and focused on it.

Warm up sets are just warm up. There was now a clear cut difference between warm up sets and work sets. Some exercises require more warm up sets some less, either way you gotta' get them done so you don't injure yourself. But they should not excessively  fatigue you for the work sets.

Not all work sets are taken to failure. When you are doing multiple sets with the same weight you know that if you blow your wad on the first one or two sets your following sets will suffer, and on the flip side of the coin when you get to your last set you know you got a good amount of work in so you don't see much of a need to grind out some extra reps just to make sure you are getting the most out of the exercise. This ties in very closely to the point about form.  You know when you will have to use some extra momentum or Body-English to get those last couple of reps so you stop the set. So I guess in a way the work sets are taken to failure but to a point of technical failure not to a " by any means necessary" point of failure.

The workouts felt "good". When I am leaving the gym and couple of days after the workout I don't feel like I got hit by a bus. There is soreness and you definitely feel like you did something but you can still function like a normal member of society. Laces and stairs are not an enemy after working legs.  

Wondering if anyone else here trains like this and what you think of it.

 
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NI_Muscle
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2013, 12:50:21 AM »

I think what it comes down to with this approach is that the muscles get a thorough workout, whilst avoiding frying the nervous system.

The opposite seems to be the case with HIT (even though I'm well aware of this, I still find it hard to shake off this method and to go lighter with more volume).

Keep us posted on your results in the coming months
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Yev33
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2013, 06:20:46 AM »

In the past ten years I have tried HIT type routines but mostly stuck to the more common pyramid up volume approach. I always thought that the sets across is for beginners. Then back in 2010 I saw a guy who was 190-195 benching 335lbs for 4 sets of 6 and I was blown away. To me this was very foreign but to him the pyramid style sets that I was doing were strange (he was from Ukraine and has not had very much expirience in American gyms). Ever since then the gears in my head have been turning.
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Montague
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2013, 02:29:53 AM »

      I guess this is the most commonly used term for using the same weight for multiple sets. Regardless of what you call it I think just about everyone has used this at some point. And most likely it was when we were just starting out. Remember when we were weak and there was no point in pyramiding up to a set of 6 reps with 135lbs on the bench press. I remember I used to do three sets with it until I got to 10 reps and would up the weight for the next workout. There was no gray line between a warm up set and a work set, I would do my work sets with the same weight and those were the ones that counted.

       Well slowly but surely I began to gravitate back toward this approach for some time now. I first started with isolation movements. I started wondering why am I pyramiding my barbell curls after rows and chin ups. I am clearly warmed up enough, why not just hit 3-4 sets with same weight and call it a day. Then I decided to use this approach with my third and second movements of the workout. Now here I would do a warm up set or two just to get used to the movement and then 3-4 sets with the same weight in a given rep range.

       Now with the first movement of the workout I was very stubborn. I would definitely need 3-5 warm up sets before getting into heavy squats and deadlifts so I figured that 3-4 work sets on top of 3-5 warm up sets would be too much, so I kept pyramiding. Then recently I finally broke down and gave it a try for every single exercise in my routine.

Here is what I found:

I became much more aware of form and controlling the weight than ever before. Muscling through one set with sloppy form is one thing, doing it for 4 sets with the same weight is a whole different story. I found that I was forced to pick a weight that I could handle comfortably. This in turn led to feeling the intended muscle work better.  

I had to cut down the number of exercises per workout. If HIT training by definition is one all out set to failure, then this is the total opposite. Which made me wonder why more people didn't try to go this route when lowering their volume. You can cut work sets or cut the total number of exercises both result in lower volume. I figured I didn't need 3 different curl variations. I picked the one that was the most effective at the time and focused on it.

Warm up sets are just warm up. There was now a clear cut difference between warm up sets and work sets. Some exercises require more warm up sets some less, either way you gotta' get them done so you don't injure yourself. But they should not excessively  fatigue you for the work sets.

Not all work sets are taken to failure. When you are doing multiple sets with the same weight you know that if you blow your wad on the first one or two sets your following sets will suffer, and on the flip side of the coin when you get to your last set you know you got a good amount of work in so you don't see much of a need to grind out some extra reps just to make sure you are getting the most out of the exercise. This ties in very closely to the point about form.  You know when you will have to use some extra momentum or Body-English to get those last couple of reps so you stop the set. So I guess in a way the work sets are taken to failure but to a point of technical failure not to a " by any means necessary" point of failure.

The workouts felt "good". When I am leaving the gym and couple of days after the workout I don't feel like I got hit by a bus. There is soreness and you definitely feel like you did something but you can still function like a normal member of society. Laces and stairs are not an enemy after working legs.  

Wondering if anyone else here trains like this and what you think of it.

 


Yes, this is essentially how I train insofar as poundages. I learned of this method's benefits when trying German Volume Training.

I also like and agree with your take on the point of failure in regards to form. "Cheat" reps extend a set beyond failure. You can still train hard and intense while leaving something in the tank.
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« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2013, 09:37:27 AM »

      I guess this is the most commonly used term for using the same weight for multiple sets. Regardless of what you call it I think just about everyone has used this at some point. And most likely it was when we were just starting out. Remember when we were weak and there was no point in pyramiding up to a set of 6 reps with 135lbs on the bench press. I remember I used to do three sets with it until I got to 10 reps and would up the weight for the next workout. There was no gray line between a warm up set and a work set, I would do my work sets with the same weight and those were the ones that counted.

       Well slowly but surely I began to gravitate back toward this approach for some time now. I first started with isolation movements. I started wondering why am I pyramiding my barbell curls after rows and chin ups. I am clearly warmed up enough, why not just hit 3-4 sets with same weight and call it a day. Then I decided to use this approach with my third and second movements of the workout. Now here I would do a warm up set or two just to get used to the movement and then 3-4 sets with the same weight in a given rep range.

       Now with the first movement of the workout I was very stubborn. I would definitely need 3-5 warm up sets before getting into heavy squats and deadlifts so I figured that 3-4 work sets on top of 3-5 warm up sets would be too much, so I kept pyramiding. Then recently I finally broke down and gave it a try for every single exercise in my routine.

Here is what I found:

I became much more aware of form and controlling the weight than ever before. Muscling through one set with sloppy form is one thing, doing it for 4 sets with the same weight is a whole different story. I found that I was forced to pick a weight that I could handle comfortably. This in turn led to feeling the intended muscle work better.  

I had to cut down the number of exercises per workout. If HIT training by definition is one all out set to failure, then this is the total opposite. Which made me wonder why more people didn't try to go this route when lowering their volume. You can cut work sets or cut the total number of exercises both result in lower volume. I figured I didn't need 3 different curl variations. I picked the one that was the most effective at the time and focused on it.

Warm up sets are just warm up. There was now a clear cut difference between warm up sets and work sets. Some exercises require more warm up sets some less, either way you gotta' get them done so you don't injure yourself. But they should not excessively  fatigue you for the work sets.

Not all work sets are taken to failure. When you are doing multiple sets with the same weight you know that if you blow your wad on the first one or two sets your following sets will suffer, and on the flip side of the coin when you get to your last set you know you got a good amount of work in so you don't see much of a need to grind out some extra reps just to make sure you are getting the most out of the exercise. This ties in very closely to the point about form.  You know when you will have to use some extra momentum or Body-English to get those last couple of reps so you stop the set. So I guess in a way the work sets are taken to failure but to a point of technical failure not to a " by any means necessary" point of failure.

The workouts felt "good". When I am leaving the gym and couple of days after the workout I don't feel like I got hit by a bus. There is soreness and you definitely feel like you did something but you can still function like a normal member of society. Laces and stairs are not an enemy after working legs.  

Wondering if anyone else here trains like this and what you think of it.

 
Great post
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jpm101
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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2013, 10:46:28 AM »

Nice piece from Yev33.

As Montague noted, the same weight throughout method is the core of GVT  (10X10's), 8X8's and to a lesser degree 5X5's (I call it square root training).  Some PLérs have used shorter forms of this; sets of 3's, etc. For BBíng, this is where control and performance comes in rather than trying to manhandle weight increases for each set. This is where mind & body discipline becomes part of a workout.

Going to a point of failure is not encouraged with this style of training. And as Montague also said, cheating can be quite productive and need not be carried out to a point of failure. Quote: Always leave something in the tank"", most experienced BBérs and lifters know this.

As Yev33 said, a workout should feel good, with a sense of accomplishment. You want a "good" tired (hard to explain to people who have never workout with serious intent and experienced it), not of feeling like you have been moving weights around and doing manual labor. The CNS and future recovery, to be ready for the next workout, should always be kept in mind for progress.  Good Luck.

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« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 10:51:57 AM »

Bill Pearl always said leave the Gym with gas in the Tank. I agree.
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oldtimer1
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2013, 05:45:53 PM »

Yes, Bill Pearl always said that in effect if you make your training so hellish you won't be training very long before you have to quit in exhaustion and take days off.

Danny Padilla  said he tried training with HIT and it just didn't work for him and he said he used very heavy weights. He then went on to  use his volume method of using the same weight for every set. His early sets weren't hard and the last set was where he was pushing it.

Training to failure is a tool. Trying to use that as a year round training method is nuts. I know I'm nuts because I trained this way for decades.

Yev33, excellent post. I have been thinking for a long time of shifting my workouts in that direction. My joints are shot. I have trouble with staples like power cleans, presses and some tricep work. Just holding the bar for squats hurts my shoulder. Using the same weight goes like this for me using this type volume. Set one I get my 10 reps. Second one it gets tougher. Third is almost failure at 10.  The last I might fail at 8. When I get to 10 I will consider raising the weight. I find I have to be careful increasing the weight used because sometimes it just plays into using more rest between sets to use that weight.
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2013, 07:48:47 PM »

Bill Pearl always said leave the Gym with gas in the Tank. I agree.

as i am not on gear i do not

i kill myself for 2-3 hours of cardio and lifting 7 days a week...

i eat well and sleep as much as i need

cns has survived for years

lately have even pushed cardio above 5 hours some days

no issues

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Yev33
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« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2013, 07:12:48 PM »

So I have been doing this for the last couple of months and here is what I have found.

The sets across method works great for any exercise as long as it's not the first one. For the first exercise I have found that there is no better way than pyramiding up in weight within a given rep range. I know that the traditional way of pyramiding up is lowering the reps while increasing the weight (15,12,10,8,5 for example) what I am talking about is picking a rep range like 8-12 reps and staying in it as you increase the weights from set to set. The reason I think this works better is because it really prepares your body for the heavier sets. It ends up serving as a warm up for your muscles as well as the nervous system. Plus there is still a good amount of volume there as you work up.

Now getting back to the sets across method. I have found it to work great for any lift. Barbell, dumbbell, dips, and chin ups, it doesn't matter. The overall volume is pretty high when you consider the total tonnage (sets x reps x weight ). I like to use either 4x8 or 3x12 as my set/rep scheme. For example if I am using 4x8, I will pick a weight that I can get for 8 reps without going to failure on the first set. When I can get 8 reps on all four sets then I increase the weight. This makes it much easier to select an appropriate weight as well as leaving a lot of room for progression (first workout you might do 8,6,5,5). It is much easier to gauge what weight you can comfortably do for 8 reps on the first set rather than trying to pick a weight that you can do for all  four sets of 8 reps.

I think that combining the two methods (pyramiding and sets across) works better than just using one or the other. Another thing I like to do is limiting all of the lifting aids (weight belt, straps, wraps etc.) to only the first exercise. Here is what my last workout looked like:

Deadlifts: 6x4-6 pyramid
135x5 (warm up)
205x6
245x6
285x6
325x6
365x6
405x4

DB shoulder press: 4x8
35's x 10 (warm up)
50's x 6 (warm up)
60's x 8,8,7,7

Neutral grip pull ups: 3x12
BW x 12,6,6

Incline crunches:
3 sets with a 10lb plate behind my head.
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oldtimer1
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« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2013, 09:13:28 PM »

Eddie Robinson the bodybuilder and powerlifter use to increase his weight each set but maintain the same amount of reps. He said in effect the lighter weight sets were just done with perfect form.  Almost the whole world when they up the weight from set to set goes down in reps. Something like 12-10-8-6 is common. Eddie Robinson was the first time I heard someone workout increasing the weight each set but trying to maintain the same reps.
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Yev33
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2013, 12:55:16 PM »

Eddie Robinson the bodybuilder and powerlifter use to increase his weight each set but maintain the same amount of reps. He said in effect the lighter weight sets were just done with perfect form.  Almost the whole world when they up the weight from set to set goes down in reps. Something like 12-10-8-6 is common. Eddie Robinson was the first time I heard someone workout increasing the weight each set but trying to maintain the same reps.


I had some experience with traditional pyramid sets (thanks Arnold encyclopedia) and I did not make very much progress. I would push each set to failure or close to it. When I switched to pyramiding up in a rep range I started to understand the importance of sub-maximal effort sets. They build volume without burning out your CNS. On top of all this there was now variation that could be employed, I had a choice of multiple rep ranges that I could use, instead of doing roughly the same traditional pyramid all the time.
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oldtimer1
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« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2013, 03:35:05 PM »

One of the best, most thought provoking things I have read on this board. Thanks Yev33. "Psychologically it's much easier to feel the benefit of a set taken to complete failure, you have given it all you got and took your ability to it's current limit. But your muscles respond to mechanical work load not your need for self assurance on a job well done."
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Yev33
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« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2013, 06:02:59 PM »

One of the best most thought provoking things I have read on this board. Thanks Yev33. "Psychologically it's much easier to feel the benefit of a set taken to complete failure, you have given it all you got and took your ability to it's current limit. But your muscles respond to mechanical work load not your need for self assurance on a job well done."

Thank you
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oldtimer1
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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2013, 05:25:48 PM »

I did this workout today. I'm training to get some strength back after doing a lot of running. I trained back and delts.

D ring pull ups 2 x max ( I use swivel handles attached to my chin bar. It's such a relief for bad shoulders letting your hand move the direction they want to when chinning.
Low cable pulley rows 2 x 12
Dumbbell row off a bench 2 x 10
Reverse grip lat machine pulldowns 2 x 10

Dumbbell presses 2 x 8 (I really go as low as I can with these. No half reps)
Dumbbell laterals 2 x 10
One arm pulley laterals 1 x 10
Rear delt dumbbell laterals 2 x 10

Dead lifts 2 x 4 then 1 x 1
Barbell shrugs 2 x 10

Weighted back extensions 2 x 12
Weighted ab crunches 1 x 50

Workout took me 1:16 to do. Completely shot. When I get my strength back I'm going to utilize some volume and moderate weight. Now it's all out trying to do power bodybuilding. I hope I don't damage my old delicate body. Injuries are easy to get with age.
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Yev33
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« Reply #15 on: November 29, 2013, 09:47:14 PM »

I did this workout today. I'm training to get some strength back after doing a lot of running. I trained back and delts.

D ring pull ups 2 x max ( I use swivel handles attached to my chin bar. It's such a relieve for bad shoulders letting your hand move the direction they want to when chinning.
Low cable pulley rows 2 x 12
Dumbbell row off a bench 2 x 10
Reverse grip lat machine pulldowns 2 x 10

Dumbbell presses 2 x 8 (I really go as low as I can with these. No half reps)
Dumbbell laterals 2 x 10
One arm pulley laterals 1 x 10
Rear delt dumbbell laterals 2 x 10

Dead lifts 2 x 4 then 1 x 1
Barbell shrugs 2 x 10

Weighted back extensions 2 x 12
Weighted ab crunches 1 x 50

Workout took me 1:16 to do. Completely shot. When I get my strength back I'm going to utilize some volume and moderate weight. Now it's all out trying to do power bodybuilding. I hope I don't damage my old delicate body. Injuries are easy to get with age.

I will have to see if I can find a similar way for doing ring chin ups like you described. I used to have a set up like that at home when I did mainly BW exercises, ring chins and dips. Wonderful movements.
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oldtimer1
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2013, 06:58:42 AM »

I will have to see if I can find a similar way for doing ring chin ups like you described. I used to have a set up like that at home when I did mainly BW exercises, ring chins and dips. Wonderful movements.

http://www.power-systems.com/p-3856-pull-up-handles.aspx
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2013, 09:07:35 AM »

I used this starting out as a teen. I tried revisiting it later, but due to muscle fiber types and fatigue factors, it would often go something like 10, 8, 6, 4.  The last set was less than half of the first! 
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Yev33
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2013, 10:57:54 AM »


Those look good, I also liked the ring set that they had on their web site. http://www.power-systems.com/p-4659-training-rings.aspx
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Yev33
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2013, 11:11:06 AM »

I used this starting out as a teen. I tried revisiting it later, but due to muscle fiber types and fatigue factors, it would often go something like 10, 8, 6, 4.  The last set was less than half of the first! 

The key is to pick a weight that allows you to get the required reps on the first set without going to failure. Also to pay attention to the rest periods between sets, I like to stick to 2 min. on the bigger exercises and 1 min on isolation work.  Regardless there will be a drop off from set to set when you start out using a heavier weight. But eventually the sets that look like 8,6,5,5 end up looking like 8,8,8,8 and then you up the weight a little and do it again.

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« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2013, 01:55:53 PM »

Glad you enjoy the method.
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Yev33
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« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2013, 03:03:06 PM »

It's a bit of a different way of approaching training. Today's BB approach tends to lean toward doing more exercises. I look at it a bit different.

The list of exercises is decreased but the attention given to each exercise is increased. The goal is to maximize the benefit of that particular exercise and after 12 weeks or so switch to another one. For example you might do close grip bench for your triceps for 12 weeks, and then switch to dips.

The goal to pick the most useful exercises for you that will produce the most results.

The other factor in this is total mechanical load (volume). Let's say you take your Incline Bench from 225x10 (2250lbs total) to 250x10 (2500lbs total) that's 250lb difference in total load.

With this method if you go from Incline Benching 225x8,6,5,5 (5,400lbs total) to 225x8,8,8,8 (7,200lbs total) that is a 1,800lb total difference in total load over the same four sets. There is much more load on the muscles with a good result producing exercise, with a decent weight, and without taking every set to failure.



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