Some Questions About Sets and Reps - and Heavy Singles!

Herman Goerner was one of the strongest men who ever lived. He used a variety of set/rep systems in his training, including plenty of heavy singles.

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Two quick notes and then we'll talk iron.

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Outdoor training at the Dino Dungeon. I currently do all Olympic lifting - and it's mostly single rep work. Of course, that's not the only way to get things done. Find what works best for you, and then work it hard! And if your my age (60) or older, remember that you're old enough to do what you like to do.

3. Some Questions About Sets and

For some reason, I've been getting a lot
of questions about sets and reps. Here are
some of the most common questions -- and
my answers to them.

Q. How do I build up to doing heavy singles?

A. Do 5 x 5 for three months, and then do
5/4/3/2/1 for three months.

Or do 5 x 5 followed by 1 x 3 and 1 x 1
for three months.

Q. You always talk about 5 x 5 -- but what
if I need to do more warm-up sets?

A. Go ahead and do them. If it turns out to
be 6 x 5 or 7 x 5, that's fine.

Q. Does 5 x 5 mean you do five sets with your
heaviest possible weight?

A. No, it means you do a series of progressively
heavier warm-up sets followed by 3 working sets
with your top weight -- or 2 working sets -- or
one working set.

Some related points:

Over the course of a training cycle, you can
move from 3 x 5 working sets to 1 x 5.

You can do 3 x 5 in light weeks, 2 x 5 in
medium weeks, and 1 x 5 in  heavy weeks.

The stronger you are, and the heavier you train,
the fewer work sets you need (or can stand).

Older trainees usually do better on one working
set in any exercise.

Squats and deadlifts usually work best with
one working set.

England's Reg Park thrived on the 5 x 5 system.

Q. Do heavy singles work well for all exercises?

A. They work best for squats, front squats, dead-
lifts, Trap Bar deadlifts, bottom position bench
press, bottom position squats, push presses,
military presses, cleans, snatches and the
clean and press or the clean and jerk.

Curls, shrugs, and lat exercises usually work
better with sets of five or six reps.

Gut work and neck work is best if you do
sets of 8 to 15 reps. Ditto for calf work.

Grip work varies depending on what you

Q. When you do heavy singles, do you lift
your maximum possible weight in your top

A. No, you do a series of progressively
heavier sets and work up to a weight that
is heavy, demanding and challenging -- but
not to your absolute max.

Q. Can I skip the warm-up sets to save

A. No, warm-up sets are important. If you
don't have time to do warm-up sets, you
don't have time to train.

Q. What is the best system of sets and reps?

A. There isn't one. The best system of sets and
reps for YOU will depend on a variety of factors,
and it will change over time. It also will vary
from exercise to exercise.

Don't agonize over finding "the best" way to
train. Find a GOOD way, and work it hard.

You'll do just fine.

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

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. For more details on effective strength
training and muscle building workouts, grab

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P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "If you sweat
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-- Brooks

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