The Best System of Sets and Reps

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

One quick note, and then we'll talk iron.

1. The January Dino Files

Go here to grab the January issue of the
Dino Files strength training and iron
history journal:

We'll get the Kindle version out as soon as
we can. I'll send an email when it's ready.

Be sure to let me know how you like this
month's issue. Your feedback is very
important to us!

2. The Best System of Sets and Reps

I get tons of questions about sets and reps.

Most of them are from someone asking me to
give him "the best" system of sets and reps.

But I can't do that.

No one can.

That's because there is no "best" system of
sets and reps.

When you talk about sets and reps, you need
to consider all of the following factors:

1. The "best' sets and reps vary from person to
person. What works best for ME may or may not
work best for you. For example:

a. Reg Park did great with with 5 x 5. Three Mr.
Universe wins. 500 pound bench press. One of
the best bodybuilders of all time.

b. Tony Terlazzo used 5 x 5 -- and did okay, but
then switched to 5/4/3/2/1, sets of 3 and sets of
2 -- and became an Olympic champion, and the
best lifter of his era.

c. John Davis did great with 8 x 2. Six World
championships and two Olympic gold medals.

d. Tommy Kono liked heavy triples. It worked
pretty darn well for him. Six World championships ,
two Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal.

e. Doug Hepburn thrived on heavy singles. He won
the World weightlifting championship with them.

f. Peary Rader gained  almost 100 pounds of muscle
with 20 rep breathing squats. In terms of over-all
gains, that's hard to beat.

2. The "best" sets and reps will vary from exercise
to exercise. What works best for barbell curls may
or may not work best for presses -- and what works
best for presses may or may not work best for squats
and deadlifts.

2a. As a general rule, you should use lower reps on
exercises that involve a high level of skill and
technique, such as Olympic weightlifting. Most
weightlifters use singles, doubles and triples.

3. The "best" sets and reps will change for anyone
based on their level of experience. What works best
for a beginner is different than what works best for
an intermediate or advanced trainee.

4. What works "best' depends on what your goals
are. The best set/rep system for building strength
is different than the best set/rep system for building
endurance or "condition."

4a. Adding cardio work or upping your cardio may
change what sets and reps are best for you in your
strength training.

5. The "best' sets and reps will change as you grow
older. What works best for you at age 15 -- or age
25 -- or even age 35 -- will probably be different
than what works best for you at age 45, 55 or 65.

5a. General rule: as you grow older, drop the volume.
See Gray Hair and Black Iron for tips on age-
appropriate workouts for older Dinos.

6. The "best' sets and reps allow full recovery from
one workout to another. What allows full recovery will
change as you grow stronger. The stronger you are,
the less training you need -- or can stand.

6a. For example -- a beginner who does 1 x 12 in the
squat with 55 pounds on the bar is going to have a
much different effect on his body than an advanced
man who does 3 x 5 with 350 or 400 pounds. The
beginner's efforts are a mild stimulus for growth --
the advanced man's workout hits his body like a
freight train.

7. The "best" sets and reps are usually far less than
what you think they are. It's always easier to write
down a workout than to do it -- or to recover from

7a. The vast majority of trainees at all levels of
development fail to achieve their full potential
because they over-train -- meaning that they do
too many exercises, too many reps and too many

And finally, as a corollary to all of the above --
the "best' sets and reps are almost NEVER what
you see in the muscle comics.

As always, thanks for reading, and have a great
day. If you train today, make it a good one!

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S.  For more about sets and reps -- and about
productive, real world strength training and muscle
building, grab Strength, Muscle and Power:

P.S. 2. Older trainees should grab Gray Hair
and Black Iron:

P.S. 3. My other books and courses are right
here - along with the Dinosaur Files and links
to my Kindle and PDF courses:

P.S. 4. Thought for the Day: "Think, but don't
over-think. Train, but don't over-train."
-- Brooks Kubik