Q: Hi there! I am Karim from Germany. I’ve read many articles from you at Bodybuilding.com.
I have a question. I couldn’t find any answers on the internet.
I am training for muscle size performing usually 3 sets at 8-12 reps. My question: I increase the weight with each set, performing the last set at maximum weight. So I do just 1 set with maximum weight on a particular exercise.
Do you recommend increasing the weight with each set until you reach maximum weight or would you perform each set at your maximum weight?
I am looking forward to your response.
My Answer: Either way would be fine. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. If you’re new to weight training, then the first method would be appropriate. Working up to your max weight is less taxing on your body.
However, if you’ve been training for awhile, then you should perform each set close to max weight. I don’t believe in training at max weight all the time, because you’re going to overtrain if you trained to failure on every set. Your nervous system gets fried from doing that all the time.
So if you’re shooting for 3 sets of 8 reps, then use a 9 rep max weight. If you get through the 3×8 at 9RM easily, then up the weight a little bit for your next workout.
You can have the best of both worlds by alternating the 2 methods. For one workout, train close to your max weight on every set. Then for your next workout, increase the weight on each set until your last set is the max weight. By alternating the 2 methods, this allows you to train hard, then pull back and actively recover. You will gain strength much more quickly if you alternate the intensity.