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Tie Progression To 3 Or 4 Sets?

nogud

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Jun 15, 2022
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This isn't a "Is 3 or 4 sets better?" question, like the title may have made it seem. Below should explain better...


I do 4 sets per exercise, but a lot of the time I find that even if I manage to get all the required reps in the first 3 sets, I can rarely get the same amount in the 4th set due to accumulated fatigue. I've had periods where I've been stuck at a certain weight for weeks due to this.

So I've been thinking... Would it be best to just stick it out and keep trying to get the required reps in the 4th set, or should I just base my progression off the first 3 sets, but still do a 4th anyway? I love using 4 sets and feel it's the perfect amount for me, but the progression issue keeps cropping up with this, whereas it seems easier to get all the required reps when only basing it off the first 3 sets. I assume it's because by the 4th set I'm fully burnt out, whereas even though I'm quite fatigued by the 3rd set I can often still give enough to get the required reps.

It's not that I'm looking for the easy way out, as I'm more than willing to put the effort in, but if basing progression off the 4th set is gonna have me reaching a stalemate for ages on end, it's THAT I'm concerned about. Not got an issue whatsoever with just sticking it out though and to keep trying, if that's gonna be the best option.


Thanks.
 

buck

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So you say sometimes you get to a point where you are not progressing because you are not recovering well enough. At that point i change one of the variables that control that. Eat, train, rest or lastly gear. To just keep doing the same thing hoping something will just suddenly change often doesn't work out well.
 

SOUR DIESEL

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I do 4 sets per exercise, but a lot of the time I find that even if I manage to get all the required reps in the first 3 sets, I can rarely get the same amount in the 4th set due to accumulated fatigue. I've had periods where I've been stuck at a certain weight for weeks due to this.

So I've been thinking... Would it be best to just stick it out and keep trying to get the required reps in the 4th set, or should I just base my progression off the first 3 sets, but still do a 4th anyway? I love using 4 sets and feel it's the perfect amount for me, but the progression issue keeps cropping up with this, whereas it seems easier to get all the required reps when only basing it off the first 3 sets. I assume it's because by the 4th set I'm fully burnt out, whereas even though I'm quite fatigued by the 3rd set I can often still give enough to get the required reps.
^^^these "issues" are fun always for me ..i get to think of a new way to torture myself

►get creative & change up your 4th set:

→ make it a drop set
→ make it a "rest-pause" set
→ drop the weight & make it a "polish" set
→ have a partner? ..then make the remaining reps "super-slow-controlled-negatives"


^^^just some ideas for that dreaded "4th set" ..without eliminating it, or revamping your workout altogether


..at the end of the day; intensity & T.U.T. rule ..don't over think it


.
 

xpoc

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Nov 19, 2016
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Here is ONE idea for getting in 4 sets AND still achieving progression.

Set 1 (heaviest load) 5-7 reps. Week 1 = 5 reps, Week 2= 6 reps, Week 3= 7 reps. Week 4= increase load and start progression over at 5
Set 2 (reduce load approx 10%) 8-10 reps. Same progression as above. Week 1= 8 reps, week 2 = 9 reps etc.
Set 3 (reduce load another approx 10%) 11-13 reps. Same progression
Set 4 (reduce load another approx 10%) 14-16 reps. Same progression

Incline DB press might look like this week 1.

100x5
90x8
80x11
65x14

Week 2 would be

100x6
90x9
80x12
65x15

week 3

100x7
90x10
80x13
65x16

week 4 (increase load, start progression over)

105x5
95x8
85x11
70x14

If you hit failure along the way in any rep range, so be it. But if you choose your load correctly, you likely won't see failure until week 3...and then you might not see it in all rep ranges, could be the 1st set, could be 2nd and 3rd set. Don't overthink it.
 

juggy38

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@SOUR DIESEL had some great recommendations.

One other thing that works good for power building and volume months for power lifters is sets across with an AMRAP on set 4. Example….

Dumbell incline: find a weight you know damn well you can do 4x8.

Week 2: 85x8,8,8,13!…..add pounds!
Week 3: 90x8,8,8,10……add pounds.
Week 4: 95x8,8,8,8…….hold. Keep banging away until your AMRAP gets back to 10+ reps…..then add weight once it does.

4 sets with 1-2 RIR is quite taxing for one movement and I’m sure your doing a couple other movements for that body part. 2 sets + AMRAP has always worked better for me, if I’m doing more than 2 exercises for that body part. BUT 4 sets of incline barbell paired with 4 sets of dips….it’s hard to beat simply stupid high effort workouts.
 

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