View Full Version : Amount of SETS per movement MUST be an open and flexible architecture!!!!

02-09-2008, 08:24 PM
those who know me on here, have heard several of my rants on not being a slave to numbers of reps and such in a workout.

I would like to take this one step forward: on any given day or night, and any given workout, if you are doing a particular movement, for which you are feeling very strong AND you are getting a very strong mind-muscle connection in the target muscle:


here is what I mean, by example: lets say you are doing a lat workout, and you have 3 movements and you plan 3 sets of each. The first is cable pulldowns. The next movment is bent over rows.

after getting pumped and warmed up by the pulldowns, you find that you have an exceptional great feeling tonight on the bent overs. Your arms are moving in a solid groove, like a machine, and you really only feel lats...in addition to that, the weight really feels like it is a part of your body tonight.



example within the example: you are doing pyramid style: your rows reps are 12, 10 and 8, with a 20 pound increase each set.

if you are experiencing what I mentioned: do a fourth set with more weight for 6 reps. And if that still felt terrific, don't be afraid to do another work set at that weight for 6 more reps, similar to OT style.


why not???

NOW: a lot of people in this instance, might be scared off and think to themselves, "oh my, if I do this, I might not be able to do the next 3 sets I planned to do"

so what?????????????

if you are on a roll with that second movement, you will get more out of that on that given night, than any obligatory amount of finishing sets that you planned to do.

This is just one example, but I hope people will see the logic of it. You should never be a slave to anything: number of sets, number of reps, etc......

This is true instinctive training: many people think that instinctive training is just a hodgepodge of, "hey, tonight I think I'll do this or that"...

NO! Instinctive Training is always based upon a foundation of structure, a foundation of a plan or purpose, but by it's very nature, it allows you flexibility WITHIN that plan, so that you could extract the most out of any workout on any given day.

but never leave a winner, and learn to recognize a winner when you are experiencing one: this is part and parcel also, of listening to your body and realizing that your body is ORGANIC, and not a machine, and varies, physiologically, biochemically, and even emotionally from day to day.

Staid routines are for milled machines.

your body is a DYNAMIC EVER CHANGING LIVING ENTITY........as such, your thoughts and approach must also be dynamic and case-dependent each workout, in order to take advantage of those special days or nights when you should work a portion of your workout for more than you usually do without fretting over what may or may not follow, energy wise.

John Prophet
02-09-2008, 09:23 PM
NOW: a lot of people in this instance, might be scared off and think to themselves, "oh my, if I do this, I might not be able to do the next 3 sets I planned to do"

so what?????????????

yeah, ive seen and heard that a few times. "I dont want to wear myself out for the next exercise." Like they'd die if they had to go 5 lbs lighter on the next one.

Also reminds me of what Arnold said one time. Him and a partner were going to do like 30 sets of biceps. After the first set the partner said "wow, 29 sets to go". Arnold said "nope, just one set to go...the one we are working on"

02-09-2008, 10:28 PM
I agree John. Sometimes if I feel a little weaker than normal, I would change it up and go lighter by at least 20 pounds on everything, or maybe just do a series of dropsets and go for some higher reps on each set.

02-09-2008, 10:42 PM
I agree with everything you said. Sometimes I walk into the gym knowing exactly what I'm gonna do and my muscles tell me otherwise. Also I notice when I say "5 sets 8 reps" I think thats all I can do, and it limits me. When I say "6 sets 9 reps" I can pull it off. In the end I would say don't settle for what what you think you can do, do all that you can possibly do.

02-09-2008, 11:45 PM
Great post. I have only recently discovered the truth of what your saying. I was a slave to planned sets and reps until I realized that some days I had more power than others either physically or mentally and that I could go beyond my expectations and plan even if just for that one day. It's crossed my mind that I might not be able to do my usual planned routine for the rest of the session so sometimes I finish up and then go back to that exercise that I feel that I could go further on and sometimes I just realize that it's more important to go with the flow than the plan. I see the planned routine now as a rough draft to start with that I can branch out from.
Right now I'm developing and nurturing the mind power to really push myself beyond what I think my limitations are and to reach for the impossible in each session. Sometimes I exceed my expectations and sometimes I don't but I'm putting forth the determination and effort. This is a great exercise in mind control at the very least.
In both cases I have more increased weight, or increased reps days than I did previously.

02-10-2008, 05:00 AM
I have adopted the habit of going as mean reps as I feel comfortable with on my last set. When I get to the point where I am doing 3 or 4 reps more than what was planned for the last set I add a couple of pounds next time I am doing that movement. I use a pair of adjustable ankle weights which I slip on the bar so I can add between 1 - 4 pounds if I think 5 would be too big a increase.

02-10-2008, 05:04 AM
Also agree. Whatever the bodypart, I'm not locked into x # of sets/reps.

02-10-2008, 05:07 AM
Excellent post John!

02-10-2008, 05:12 AM
I've mentioned before that I have been using a 'framework' type of approach to my workouts for the past year or so. I have lists of the various exercises for the specific body parts that I work each time I go to the gym. There's no way I'm ever going to do them all in one session, but always start out with a couple of basics to warm up, then continue through sets of antagonistic movements for 45 minutes. I go back & refer to my list after each set(s) & determine where to move next based on how I feel and which area I feel needs to be worked.

02-10-2008, 06:18 AM
Great post! in full agreement you never know how your body is going to respond from one day to the next, I never have a plan of how many or how much I'm going to lift if my body allows me I'll do whatever I can. Sometimes I don't even have a set plan as to what body part to train as long as they get trained and not over trained. Big on the mind muscle connection and just being body aware.

02-10-2008, 06:29 AM
I have always trained instinctively. I use a written routine only as a guide and try not to deviate downward from it, but there are times like you mentioned that you must listen to your body. Many times I have started a workout feeling weak and finished with one of my best, and vice versa. Thats why I always say listen to your body and use the mind for motivation.

02-10-2008, 08:43 AM
excellent post.

i for one cannot recall actually following a plan. i switch orders around, and that in and of itself alters the weights i use on every exercise.

and plus, i rarely do the jamochs in my gym cooperate. if my plan has pull ups next, someone often is using the pulley system right underneath it. so i have to hit something else. but i like the idea of going with an exercise if you are "feeling" it that day. even at the expense of others.

02-10-2008, 09:09 AM
Excellent! Also very very true too many people get caught up in sets and reps..

02-10-2008, 07:25 PM
glad everyone enjoyed this one.....

02-10-2008, 07:52 PM
Yep - excellent.

02-10-2008, 08:44 PM
Agree w/ everyone this is a great post.

I take a workout sheet with me to the gym every time I go so I can measure my progress over time. I do pre-plan my workouts, but if I'm in a groove, I just add additional sets/exercises in the margins. I find I constantly add exercises when I'm feeling it.

I was in a groove today and just kept coming back for more shrugs after working out other body parts and throwing in some standing BB shoulder presses after I'd done seated DB presses.

Another added benefit to being flexible with your workouts and not being stuck on a completely formal routine is that if the gym is crowded, you can adapt to head to equipment that is not in use.

02-10-2008, 09:03 PM
Agreed. I do preplan my workouts too but I adapt to where my bodies at when I'm in the gym. Two weeks ago I added in bicep curls even though I wasn't planing on doing them because I felt I had the energy left over for the bicpes at the end of the back sets, then last session I added in an extra back set because I felt my back was calling for it. In the past I've turned a 6x225 lb warm up bench press set into a 12x225 lb set because I felt the energy at the time. Yeah I wouldn't dream of not using that extra energy if your in a roll and got it.