The Singles Scene - Your Guide to Single Rep Strength Training

Maximal Training, Maximal Results

By Joe Weir and Eric Troy

Few people understand how to use near maximal strength training to get results. There exists a dichotomy in many trainees' minds between "maxing out" and "training" that results in needless volume gathering and a misunderstanding of how to use maximal intensities (above 90% max load) effectively.

As will become clear throughout the pages of GUS, with strength training intensity is job one. If you are completely new to strength training; intensity is simply the percentage of your maximal ability (one rep maximum) that you are working with. A one rep maximum is sometimes called FM for the maximum force you can muster.

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fractional-plates.jpg

Fractional or "Micro Plates" for Olympic Barbell

Some people also define intensity as the percentage of any rep maximum being used but we will ignore that and stick only with percentage of maximal ability which is by far the most useful and fundamental definition for an individual. Other ways of measuring intensities may be more useful for those studying strength training populations but for the individual this will result in nothing but confusion.

Let’s define our parameters a bit more:

Intensity is not:

1. As heavy as you can lift as long as you get a certain number of reps and sets. I.E. a certain workload or certain volume. There are no “buts”. Intensity is job one, especially with single rep training.

2. So, it is not “volume-intensity”. There is no such thing as a universal sweet-spot where volume and intensity become optimal. Only what fits in with your goals given all the parameters that affect your training, such as diet, rest, stress, etc., is close to optimal. And close is all we will ever come to optimal. But that is another article.

3. How hard you feel you are working; how loud you are screaming; how red your face is; how much blood is gushing from your nose, or, how much you grimace has nothing to do with intensity. This perceived effort we will call “intensiveness” as coined by Kelly Bagget. Many times, this feeling of intensiveness has as much to do with fatigue as with true intensity as related to load.

That should do it for now. We may think of some more things which intensity is not as we go along. If we do we’ll clue you in.

Most of you probably have your minds filled with so many doubts and concerns every time you try something new. There is always a little birdie singing in your ear. What about time? What about volume? What about mass? It would be very easy to turn this into another e-book. We’ll try to avoid that but will endeavor to allay your doubts to the best of our ability.

maximal deadlift

Going for Broke

We will make a few universal assumptions:

  • Lifting a given load more times, regardless of other parameters such as density, will make you stronger.
  • MASS is much easier to come by than continued gains in absolute strength….SHOCKING but true.
  • Volume can be easily gathered throughout a training period with other complimentary movements rather than your main lifts. These movements can also serve the very necessary purpose of useful variety which improves fundamental movement patterns, addresses weak links, etc.

We must asssume you have a handful of main lifts you seek to continually improve. In order to make the most of this type of training, you must stop trying to kill two birds with one stone using your main lifts for strength and mass at the same time. This is not to say that you should never use your primary lifts with higher rep ranges as there are very good reasons to do so. Repeated exposure improves motor learning, for one thing. And the repeated effort method, which uses submaximal load for multiple sets to failure (or near) is meant to recruit more motor units at the end after fatigue sets in. Just have the goal in mind when you do it and know that training with near maximal loads is always the bread and butter of training for maximal strength.

Singles will be used for core lifts or their chosen derivatives. Complementary movements could be single leg work, or posterior chain dominant work.

The message, for example, that the squat or any other movement is king of mass has really stymied many trainees in their quest for strength. They go along thinking squats are going to make them huge, then after a couple of years they wonder why their squat sucks. You want a big squat; you have to train for a big squat. You want big legs, you train for big legs.

Frankly, many “gurus” say you need squats to make you huge simply because they have jumped from a body part mentality to a compound lift full body or upper/lower mentality with only a superficial understanding of what this entails. Training your squats or deadlifts 5x5 style will simply stop working after a very finite period of time. Most strength training programs on the internet and in many books are NOT strength training. They are a middle ground between strength and mass. This is a general way of training which is only useful for a novice to beginning intermediate.

The whole idea of the single is intensity, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to most but you’d be surprised at how many people comment on singles, saying “There’s no point; 1 rep won’t make anything grow”. Well, hopefully we’ve cleared up a few things for those people. We'd agree that a single rep may not do anything for you, but what about 5 or 6 of them, or even 10? The whole idea is to generate a given intensity, roughly 90% or higher than your relative max.

Performing Singles

With singles, and with all near-maximal training, there are several schools of thought. Beyond those there are muddy waters where most trainees spend their time.

The first method is based on your PR (personal record) or one rep maximum. Different people have different ideas about a one rep maximum. Dan John says you have your sorta max, then your sorta sorta max and your sorta sorta sorta max in a tongue in cheek way of stating how ridiculous it can all become. But usually the method is fairly clear cut. We will refer to it as percentage based training.

The trainee works up to a peak at some point which hopefully results in a PR for the goal lift. Then, perhaps as much as two or three weeks later, plans a build up with percentages based on that lift, such as cycling up through 70, 80, 90 percent, etc. Only to try to meet his 1RM and then peak again.

This type of buildup may be necessary for the extremely advanced or elite lifter, but that constitutes so few of us it is practically worthless for our discussion. This is nothing more than “intensity cycling” or intensity deload. Most trainees will have very little need to cycle back intensity but rather will need to cycle volume. For these trainees it is much more efficient to stay as close to their maximal intensity as possible during near-maximal lifting activities. If they spend an appreciable amount of time away from this maximal intensity they will simply be detraining maximal strength and a percentage based program becomes nothing more than playing catch-up. In strength training, never lift lighter when you can lift heavier safely.

The alternative to the intensity cycling is planning a series of singles workouts with the goal of hitting 90 percent or above of that 1RM for a given number of reps. This results in frustration and disappointment when the trainee feels he has gotten “weaker”.

Using percentages as a guideline is helpful, as long as we adhere to a set of principles, which we will outline shortly.

Another method is reactive based. This method seeks to gauge the emotional or physiological response of the lifter as he prepares to lift. This is done by monitoring the physical signs of emotional or psychological stress of the body, such as accelerated pulse. While there is certainly something to this, and the psychology of strength is just as important as its physiology, there are many factors, such as injury history, which influence a lifters stress response, some of which cannot be easily ameliorated and some of which can.

In fact a lifters stress response may have more to do with his past failures than his preparedness at that time. Clearly mental preparedness is something that must be considered and dealt with all on its own. While gauging how we feel is important, it is only one tool in the box and can be multi-faceted. Indeed, the experienced lifter knows how to get in the zone and how he/she feels at the beginning of the workout may not reflect at all how he/she feels at the end.

This is to say nothing of how prepared we feel in a physical sense. There are many factors that you can’t change once you hit the gym. But when you are feeling sluggish approaching your first lift that is not a cue to abandon your workout. You may change plans, or, you may find that if you approach it with patience and thoughtfulness, you can still get a good lift in, and maybe a great one. This is where a good dynamic mobility warm-up, foam rolling, and a proper lifting warm up and acclimation come into play.

I (Eric) have also heard many trainees, who have a good plan of attack, complain that they felt great coming in, but the workout fell way short of their expectations. These trainees, especially, are going to appreciate the information presented here. Because they will learn that there are ways to get their body to respond the way they want, or failing that, how to get a good session in based on their best ability at that time. One that can be justified within the larger context of their training; can be sustained; and can be built upon.

Before we get to the specifics, we must put to rest one very silly approach to single rep training: Dinosaur Training. Kubik did a lot to spread the word about maximal training and singles specifically. But there are very few principles in this method we can hang our hats on. Dinosaur training is basically the bust your nut method. Rest assured, when Kubik says he can only manage a few singles, he is speaking for himself. This method will only break you down, not build you up.

Yes, yes, TRAIN HARD. I’ve never actually met a person who did not believe they were TRAINING HARD. Hard does not replace smart. Nobody says it is supposed to be easy.

You will learn to take some of these vague seeming concepts and make them guidelines. You will then bridge those guidelines with a concrete set of principles:

First off, a single is not a PR attempt, it’s a relative max. The difference may not be clear to you now but it is night and day. You are not at a powerlifting meet and all attempts need to be performed safely and with good form. That is the glaring difference between a PR and a relative max. You can argue that you can’t possibly maintain 100% correct form at these weights and we’ll agree with you, but your form still has to be good. If your back squat looks like a squat goodmorning or your deadlift looks like a scared cat, then that’s probably too much weight and not enough form.

Before beginning to use singles you must understand this concept of a relative max. The relative max is simply that which is related to your preparedness at any given time. There is no kinda-sorta max here. Only what you lift matters. Not what you think you could have lifted or what you lifted a couple of weeks ago. Throw out all those maxes, actual or imaginary, as they will most likely mislead you more than help you.

Beginning with Single Rep Training

For people who have previously only had experience with volume oriented training keeping them in the near 80% range (sometimes up to 85), we are assuming that you have learned and honed in the lifts well. If, like most trainees, your method of learning the lifts was to pick up a bar, try a few reps and then begin a volume oriented program where you aggressively load the bar as often as possible, chances are you need to work on a lot of things before you get into near maximal training, as you may have developed many faulty movement patterns…compensations that will result in injury if you jump too fast into singles. Don’t blame us if you don’t take this seriously.

You should have enough experience to make a pretty good guess as to your maximum lift. If you have no idea what to shoot for, then you are not ready at all for this. As you go about the warm-up and acclimation you should be getting an even better feel for how much you can lift that day. You should also try to avoid making large ‘jumps’ in weight when it comes down to your working sets.

The Warm Up and Acclimation

To begin, make an educated guess for your max. Let’s say you think you can hit about 150 (on whatever exercise). After your foam rolling (should) and dynamic mobility warm-up (should again) you will perform warm-up sets for your chosen lift. We will plan to go for 6 to 7 singles at above 90% on this first day.

Using squats as an example and projecting a max of 150, it may look something like this:

Bar X 6-8
75 X 3
95 X 3
100 X2
125 X 2
125 X 1
135 X 1
145 X1 (MAX)…

By the time you get to 135 you should have a pretty good idea of how it is going to go. Again, do not make huge jumps.

For instance, going from 135 to 155 pounds during your working sets can be a bit problematic. If 135lbs is relatively challenging you shouldn’t jump by 20lbs. In the realm of singles a 5lb difference can make a hell of a difference. Back on point, if you hit 135, and fail at 155 you really don’t have a good idea of what your relative max is. It could be at 140, 145, or 150, and it could even be 135.

By making that jump you’ve skipped over 3 possible maxes and putting Murphy’s Law into affect you could fail on all 3 (going down in weight from 155 rather than up from 135) and have a workout with 4 failed attempts! This could have been easily avoided by simply attempting 140 pounds and realizing it was too heavy. It’s much better to chip away at your maxes rather than trying to crush them right away…it’s a marathon after all and not a sprint. If you lifted 135 like it was a feather then 155 may be appropriate.

Weight_Lifting_Free_weights_standard_size_fractional.jpg

Fractional Plates


The message is don’t bite off more than you can chew and be prepared to make decisions on the spot and not based on any sort of spreadsheet progression.

In this example we stop at 145 because it is pretty difficult and so we decide it is the best we can do with perfect form. You are NOT to attempt maxes beyond what you can do with very good form.

This warm-up and acclimation is just an example. Some people may need more high rep sets at the beginning. Some people may want fewer jumps. This example is a conservative one. Rest periods should be liberal. There has been a warm-up myth floating around the internet that rest periods during warm-ups should be kept to 1 to 2 minutes only or you will “lose your pump” or you muscles will get cold. Nothing of the sort. The rest periods at the beginning of the warm-up phase may be relatively short but after that you may need longer rest periods. We are trying to get ready to lift heavy weight here and quality also has to be maintained during the warm-up and acclimation phase. Rest as long as you think you need it and a little more for good measure. Do NOT race through near maximal workouts. This is strength training not muscle pumping (more on rest later).

By the time you even begin to lift your body should be thoroughly warmed up. The purpose therefore is not to warm up your muscles but to get them acclimated to the task at hand, which will result in heavier lifts. A little lactic acid can facilitate a good session. A lot will ruin it.

Back to the workout:

  • 145 is your max for the day. That is ONE SINGLE.
  • The 135 that came before this was around 93%. So that is another.
  • We already have two of our 6 to 7 reps in the bag.
  • Now, for our next lift we go back to 135.
  • 135 is relatively fast and easy. We get a good quality rep. That is single number 3.
  • Now we put on 140.
  • This is more challenging than we expected. But good. Single number 4.

Where to go? This is where fractional plates or a means of micro-loading is very important.

It would be nice to be able to try something like 137.5 rather than 135. That’s a big difference here. Nevertheless the goal is to get in good quality reps at the highest intensity we can muster.

If the 140 was too challenging we may want to strip more off and go as low as 130 for the next lift. It’s in the ballpark.

  • So after a good rest, 130 lbs is fast and easy. Feels great. 4 singles.
  • Feeling good about ourselves, we go for 140 again (after another long rest).
  • It’s easier than the first time. In fact it feels great. 5 singles.
  • So the heck with it, we put on 145 again. Hit it. Good quality. Not the fastest lift in the world but not ugly either. We’ve repeated our “max” for the day. 6 singles.
  • We drop back down to 140 and hit our last single for the day, ending on a very good note.
  • We’ve done 7 singles at above 90% of our relative max of the day.

This scenario where we have repeated our max is not unusual. For those suited to this type of training it is common to feel stronger as the workout progresses. In fact that is the goal. Becoming a tent stake is not what we are going for. In this workout we have learned just how fast we can get stronger through neural facilitation. Not everyone will have this type of experience at first. But you can look forward to it in the future. Along the way you may learn some tricks to enhance it, but you have to experiment.

The percentages are a guideline and illustration. Don’t get too caught up in them…they are only a tool to help us know we are in the ballpark. A more experienced lifter may know quite well when he is at the right intensity without any thought to math. For our purposes, we will assume we need a benchmark.

Rest Between Sets

Rest between sets is one of the most misunderstood variables in resistance training. Far from just determining how much you can lift and how many times you can lift it, interset rest has far reaching impact, including how you recover between workouts. The rest periods should fit the goals of the workout. In this case, therefore they should be long and longer.

Remember what we said about anxiety? Well, rest periods that are too short can and will INCREASE anxiety coming into a big lift. Anxiety is not your friend. Any type of emotional or psychological duress will detract from your performance.

The two common recommendations for low rep strength training are 2 to 5 minutes or 3 to 5 minutes. Let’s just throw out the 2 to 5 minutes here and now.

It can take longer for neural recovery to occur than metabolic recovery, simply speaking. When neural fatigue sets in your ability to perform will drop off considerably but you will have nothing to measure it by.

We need to make something clear about neural fatigue. Many experts are pretending to know things they simply don’t and can’t know.They can’t know it because it is not known. Such is the case with neural fatigue. We only know that at some point fatigue occurs at the neuromuscular junction when an action potential fails to cross from motor neuron to muscle fiber. Although there is much speculation we simply do not know what the mechanism for this is. We only know it happens.

So if someone tries to tell you all about neural fatigue, and neural recovery, and CNS overtraining as if it is all a foregone conclusion; tell them we said they are full of…hot air. We must observe the results of training in order to model training.

In this type of training, time is on your side. Complete neural recovery is said to occur in roughly 5 minutes or beyond and it cannot be sensed. After a few minutes you may feel ready to go but what you’re feeling is most likely metabolic recovery. Sometimes you may need more time to recover metabolically (i.e. still huffing and puffing after a tough set) but have recovered in the neural sense.

It is completely within reason to take 7 to 10 minutes after a particularly difficult attempt, or after a failed attempt. The best strategy is to rest as long as you think you need and then tack on some more for good measure. We will assume that neural fatigue is not going to enhance strength gains. Any other factors that any other type of fatigue may enhance are simply not a part of our plan here. We are maximizing the amount we can lift not how quickly we can get finished.

There is no set time that you should rest for, do what you have to do. If you need more time between sets of deadlifts but less time between sets of military press, then by all means take more time. You may also need more time after a failed attempt as often a failed attempt will expend more energy than a completed rep.

Volume and Progression

Now that we’ve established how to begin, its time to think about how to keep moving forward and, as mentioned earlier, one rep isn’t going to amount to a whole lot and likewise, our 7 reps do not mean a thing in the big scheme. So we need plan to move forward.

Always keep quality in mind. Without quality you might as well stick to volume and grind reps out.

You want to get in enough reps to elicit a training effect but you also don’t want to pound away with 10 sets a week on deadlifts.

Keep the amount of sets, and the effects they have, in mind. Obviously the above is going to be very hard on your joints, your CNS, and not to mention your sanity. The way to get around this and make them work in the long run is by changing, or cycling, the volume. A high, moderate, very high and low volume scheme has worked well for me in the past (Joe). That might look something like:

Week 1: 7 to 8 singles
Week 2: 5 to 6 singles
Week 3: 9 to 10 singles
Week 4: 2 to 3 singles

There’s nothing stopping you from switching that around or playing with the reps. Keep the very high volume to somewhere around 10, you will know why as soon as you do the first ‘10’ workout.

Each of these workouts will be performed in the same fashion. Finding the max and then performing the planned singles based on that max. Remember that every single above 90% of the day’s max counts…even if it came before the max during the acclimation.

Again, the goal is to get all your singles within 90-100% of your relative max and ideally they should be tightly spaced with respect to that max. To get the highest intensity, you’ll want to hover as close to that max as possible.

During the workout is when most of your decisions will take place. Exercise selection, rep/set ranges, etc are all important decisions to make, but all of those can be made on paper beforehand. Even these can change throughout a workout though, and being prepared to fly by the seat of your pants, although contradictory, is important.

For example, suppose you hit the gym thinking you’ll get 6 singles at 150 pounds but you can’t hit a single rep. Its no big deal, you just do your sets using 90% and above at closest weight (that weight should be in the same ballpark). Or you may complete all the sets at your target weight or even higher, which is a bonus. Taking either of these cases, what happens during the next workout when you can’t add even 5lbs to the bar or you are lifting less? That’s the time to pack up your things and go home.

Just kidding. Just stay calm and think about what is going to happen for that workout. Perhaps you did not acclimate enough and need to go back and do a couple more acclimation sets. Or you may need more rest between sets. Or, it could be time to use micro-plates and load by a couple of pounds rather than 5. It could even boil down to being a shitty day and a shitty workout is the result. Those are 4 answers to your problem, but there are many more and it takes a bit of thought and experimentation to figure out what’s going on.

That being said, missing a lift is nothing to be concerned about. As long as overall ability remains consistent or increase; you are golden (more later on failure).

With correct planning you will rarely display a decrease in overall ability. Warning, though, this type of training is addictive. What we are outlining here will empower you and likely make you feel like Superman. While some trainees can use cycle after cycle of singles with nothing more than an exercise change, others will find they need to use singles more judiciously.

This article only covers how to perform the singles and how to plan a cycle of singles. How to manage the stressors and plan complete programs goes way beyond the scope and is an individual thing. If you need help with that then you’ll need to join our forum and ask.

Any increase in weight for even a single set is progression, so if you’ve increased the weight on an exercise by a pound since the last workout, you’ve progressed. If you hit 5 singles at X lbs last week and did 7 singles at that weight this week, you’ve progressed by 2 reps. Both cases are examples of single progression, but if you increased the weight to X+Y and did 7 singles, you’ve gotten double progression (weight and sets). You’ll rarely get triple progression since the sets usually don’t go above one rep. Single progression may seem very minimal but its still progression, and those ‘pound’ or rep increases can add up to quite a bit before you know it. No one form or combination is the end all be all, the best thing to do is use everything to your advantage and keep next week in mind and the week after that, and the week after that…

Failure

Nobody likes failure but unfortunately it is bound to occur. Depending on the nature of the failure, meaning how much of the rep did you complete, how hard were you pushing yourself and for how long, you may need to think about how that impacts your workout for that day.

A failed attempt can have unforeseen affects; either negative or positive depending on a host of hard to predict factors. As we stated above a heavy and prolonged attempt (struggling at a sticking point) may have a greater impact than a single successful attempt, and this should be reflected in your training logs and could be considered as being the same impact as 2 successful attempts.

Or for example, you might miss an attempt on squats without much of a fight, rest and fail again in the same way. You may want to count those two attempts as one successful rep since they were fast and didn’t take an overly significant effort. However if you stuck at it and pushed until you were blue in the face without moving the bar much past parallel, you may want to count that as 2 reps. It all depends on the context of the failure, the effort exerted, the exercise and weights involved, etc. And no, you can’t fail 5 times in a row and say you did your 10 singles and go home, that’s not fair.

It is open to interpretation. As a successful attempt can well be a “dirty” attempt. And remember, dirty reps are not allowed. Similarly we are working to maintain quality so sometimes it is better to dump a rep than to get it done at all costs which usually means a very ugly lift at the end. Save the ugly reps for your PR or competition day.

This is not to say that valiant struggle is not allowed. It is and can be good as long as you don’t lose your head about it.

For instance, I (Eric) have found that a failed rep (but safely done) can have a similar facilitation affect (see explanation below) as two or three successful reps when using some type of staged or waved sets (whatever people call that). (Stay tuned for an upcoming article where I discuss failure further, and how one can turn even a failed attempt into an empowering one).

But it is not magic. You do not know what will happen until it happens. If a certain effect is reproducible for you and the repercussions are favorable then put it in your toolbox. If not, disregard it.

As always, when in doubt, do less and live to fight another day. It will take time to learn what you can tolerate and what you can’t. I (Eric) respond quite well to CNS intensive training and can tolerate a great deal of it. I have a lot of wiggle room in that regard. Yet some of the people I work with have much less tolerance. That is to say nothing of the other factors such as injury history.

We differ from many trainers in that we don’t believe that the fastest possible progression is always the best. We are aware that most of our readers are not professional athletes or involved in any type of strength competition. This, you should be glad to know, gives you MORE freedom as the needs of the professional leading up to a competition have nothing to do with the needs of the non-professional.

Also, you may have heard that “overload” is important. However that does not always mean linear overload. Proper training results in cumulative effects. Many ways of accumulating those effects exist. Also, it is quite possible to get a training effect from one workout even if you are advanced. There are some advanced trainees, who, if they haven’t trained this way, will see that training effect in action when they end up with their relative maxes being also PR’s (at least, potentially, in the beginning).

Facilitation (also called potentiation or post-synaptic potentiation)

Facilitation works like this:

A nerve impulse arrives from at the NMJ (neuro-muscular junction). Ach (acetylcholine) is released into the synaptic cleft. This is excitation. Some stuff happens and what results is an action potential which travels the fiber to the muscle.

When Ach is released it excites the postsynaptic membrane of the connecting neuron, thus changing membrane permeability. If threshold for excitation is reached, the change in membrane potential between the two motor neurons increases the flow of positive charges into the cell and this is called the EPSP (excitatory post-synaptic potential). This EPSP must be at threshold for the neuron to discharge. But even if it is not the resting membrane potential is temporarily lowered and its tendency to fire is increased.

Basically the neurons potential to fire and thus stimulate its motor unit(s) is on more of a “hair-trigger”. It is less “inhibited” than it was prior to the beginning of a training session.

This results in both temporary changes during a workout and repeated exposure to very heavy lifting results in more permanent changes. This is part of the explanation for neural changes accounting for strength gains, especially early on [1].

Summary

To begin, make an educated guess for your max. Let’s say you think you can hit about 150 (on whatever exercise). After your foam rolling (should) and dynamic mobility warm-up (should again) you will perform warm-up sets for your chosen lift. We will plan to go for 6 to 7 singles at above 90% on this first day.

Each of these workouts will be performed in the same fashion. Finding the max and then performing the planned singles based on that max. Remember that every single above 90% of the day’s max counts…even if it came before the max during the acclimation.

Using squats as an example and projecting a max of 150, it may look something like this:

Bar X 6-8
75 X 3
95 X 3
100 X2
125 X 2
125 X 1
135 X 1
145 X1 (MAX)…

By the time you get to 135 you should have a pretty good idea of how it is going to go. Do not make huge jumps.

It’s much better to chip away at your maxes rather than trying to crush them right away.

In this example we stop at 145 because it is pretty difficult and so we decide it is the best we can do with perfect form. You are NOT to attempt maxes beyond what you can do with very good form.

Some people may need more high rep sets at the beginning. Some people may want fewer jumps. This example is a conservative one. Rest periods should be liberal.

The rest periods at the beginning of the warm-up phase may be relatively short but after that you may need longer rest periods. Rest as long as you think you need it and a little more for good measure. Do NOT race through near maximal workouts.

It is completely within reason to take 7 to 10 minutes. The best strategy is to rest as long as you think you need and then tack on some more for good measure. We are maximizing the amount we can lift not how quickly we can get finished.

There is no set time that you should rest for, do what you have to do.

Back to the workout:

• 145 is your max for the day. That is ONE SINGLE.

• The 135 that came before this was around 93%. So that is another.

• We already have two of our 6 to 7 reps in the bag.

• Now, for our next lift we go back to 135.

• 135 is relatively fast and easy. We get a good quality rep. That is single number 3.

• Now we put on 140.

• This is more challenging than we expected. But good. Single number 4.

It would be nice to be able to try something like 137.5 rather than 135.

If the 140 was too challenging we may want to strip more off and go as low as 130 for the next lift. It’s in the ballpark.

• So after a good rest, 130 lbs is fast and easy. Feels great. 4 singles.

• Feeling good about ourselves, we go for 140 again (after another long rest).

• It’s easier than the first time. In fact it feels great. 5 singles.

• So the heck with it, we put on 145 again. Hit it. Good quality. Not the fastest lift in the world but not ugly either. We’ve repeated our “max” for the day. 6 singles.

• We drop back down to 140 and hit our last single for the day, ending on a very good note.

• We’ve done 7 singles at above 90% of our relative max of the day.

This scenario where we have repeated our max is not unusual. For those suited to this type of training it is common to feel stronger as the workout progresses. In fact that is the goal.

Again, the goal is to get all your singles within 90-100% of your relative max and ideally they should be tightly spaced with respect to that max. To get the highest intensity, you’ll want to hover as close to that max as possible.

Bibliography
1. Marcardle, William D.; Katch, Frank I.; Katch, Victor L. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance.4th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.

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This page created 24 Jan 2009 22:23
Last updated 22 Mar 2013 19:38

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