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Thread: "Can Fewer Sets Produce More Gains?"

  1. #1

    "Can Fewer Sets Produce More Gains?"

    http://www.elitefts.com/education/ca...ce-more-gains/

    Is there any truth to this? It kind of sounds backwards, but in theory you should still be able to progress as long as there is some sort of overload - more reps with same weight or more weight for same reps. However, everyone else says that volume is the main driver of strength and hypertrophy so what's the deal? Is this for steroid users only?

  2. #2
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    Sounds like he's trying to hit the pin on the head for the minimal amount of sets to continue progress since subsequent sets, though effective, are less and less effective each set due to diminishing returns. There's no hard line of when the next set is useless (or near useless), so if you can make progress with two sets and save time, he says, why not? Technically, though, looking at the example program, this isn't anything revolutionary. Looks like a top set for a heavy 1-5, downsets/assistance for higher reps.

  3. #3
    My thoughts exactly. If too many sets is a waste of time then wouldn't it make sense to just train more frequently? He has you doing each lift once a week, maybe twice for bench. It's similar to the original 5/3/1 template, but even Wendler eventually started recommending more volume. We're going to have to call WADA in on this one.

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    Senior Member Dan Lee's Avatar
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    I believe this works up to the point where you optimize what you get out of each set.
    That however should be more about refining technique, like an active deload, or something leading up toward a peak or taper.

    I see few situations where you get 'more' with less volume.
    They all run along the lines of preventing overtraining or unintended over-reaching.

    I think it defies what we understand about physiology to get more with less, unless you had an extremely long washout period, re-sensitized yourself to volume, etc.
    Or WADA. That works too...

  5. #5
    I think there's something to "volume sensitivity". I know gnuckols was around here talking about this at one point, and this article (though I only skimmed it, so apologies if I'm off base) hearkens back to that discussion. I was specifically reminded in the using of soreness as a proxy/indicator of novel stress. I think planned periods of low to almost no volume can be extremely useful in re-sensitizing to the effects of volume. I don't have any concrete things to say regarding this, just echoing some of my own experience/readings

  6. #6
    I have inadvertently morphed my deadlift programming into this. I was driving the volume up, adding more variations and all it did was thrash my other lifts and I didn't see my deadlift progress any faster than before. Now I feel best hitting deads heavy once a week, maybe once more for some variation, and both without any load drops most the time. Like all programs/methods, it's got to work for somebody I guess.

  7. #7
    It would be nice if all we had to do to become elite lifters is to stop training so hard.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_ottawa View Post
    It would be nice if all we had to do to become elite lifters is to stop training so hard.
    Somehow this statement lead me to looking at articles on http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/. This one caught my attention right away: http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2015/04...ield-1982.html. Mr. Hatfield has some interesting thoughts here about how often to train hard, what training hard means, and when to pull back. Not really about number of sets in relation to the OP, more about frequency and load...

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by j2917 View Post
    Somehow this statement lead me to looking at articles on http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/. This one caught my attention right away: http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2015/04...ield-1982.html. Mr. Hatfield has some interesting thoughts here about how often to train hard, what training hard means, and when to pull back. Not really about number of sets in relation to the OP, more about frequency and load...
    That's interesting, less total work but more work at 80%+. That's similar to what Sheiko said in a recent interview: http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/...iko-interview/
    "It is impossible to increase volume constantly with no limit. It means we have to increase something else, and that’s usually the intensity. Up to a point, you can get away with increasing both volume and intensity. For example, a beginner may perform 500 competitive lifts and special preparatory exercises in one month at 50-60% average intensity. Later on, that same athlete as a more advanced lifter could average 1,000 competitive lifts and special preparatory exercises at 67-69%. However, both volume and intensity cannot rise together indefinitely. At some point, you have to raise one and lower the other."

    In theory though, the more frequently you train (and recover) the faster you should make gains so if you are able to train frequently with heavy weights that would be the optimal solution. I agree that doing light high-rep hypertrophy work hasn't done much for me. But here's another thought:

    With RTS programming we are basing our training loads off of what we are able to do for THAT movement. For example, if you suck at pause squats you might be doing triples with 60% of your comp. squat max. If that's x3@9 (which should be around 85%) does it still carry over to strength gains? Notice that the percentages for all lifts in Sheiko programs are based on your comp. lift maxes. Should we aim to use 80%+ of our comp. max on all variations, regardless of how many reps we are able to do?

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