Sets & Reps

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    Sets & Reps
    Ashley Jones

    As Louie Simmons has often been quoted as saying, “Getting stronger is all about maths and physics”. No truer phrase has been offered. I love numbers and the symmetry of the organization of training through the manipulation of volume and intensity with a range of sets and reps protocols.

    Another idea I have borrowed from the strongmen of yesteryear is the use of a minimal number of exercises per training sessions. Often just performing one exercise but increasing the number of daily and weekly sessions to accommodate the complete development. Similar to the Bulgarian weightlifting model, I like to concentrate and perfect form on the major compound movements, particularly the Olympic lifts.

    One set and rep protocol I have been using regularly over the last wee while is:

    3 x 3, 4 x 2, 5 x 1

    Often changing the exercise say, from Military Presses to Push Presses to Split jerks over the course of the workout.

    Today I tried just the one exercise approach, using split style snatches from various positions, high blocks, blocks at knee level and finally from the floor and worked over the following protocol:

    3 x 3, 6 x 2, 12 x 1

    I know this is a lot of sets for one exercise and I would not use it all the time but it did achieve the result I wanted. I wanted to perfect form on this movement with incrementally heavier weights, so using a greater number of sets were used as the reps decreased. The 3’s were above 70%, the 2’s above 80% and finally the singles were above 90%.

    There is an excellent article my Jim Schmitz in the June 2008 edition of Milo on the use of the split lifts, accompanied as always with some wonderful pictures of the lifters of yesteryear, well worth a read, and timely advise on the incorporation of these gems into your sports programming, personally, I can not wait to try two of his ideas for programming, sets of 4 reps, but performing a slightly different movement for each rep, here is one to wet your appetite, I will probably do 6 sets of this fun complex:

    Rep 1: Power Snatch
    Rep 2: Split Snatch with left leg forward
    Rep 3: Split Snatch with right leg forward
    Rep 4: Full Squat Snatch

    Another excellent and informative article on the use of the split lifts is in Pure Power, March 2002, written by John Cissik, he has some great sequence pictures to assist you conceptualization of the movements and some detailed programming information as well.

    Time to Split, enjoy, ashley


    Hi Ash,
    Love the new site. Enjoying reading all of the posts. As always I learn a lot from your contributions.

    Wondered what you make of this. I have been playing around with a few ideas and have been using this once a week with work on clean and snatch individually on the other 2 days. I originally used it because I wanted to keep working on my technique for a variety of weightlifting derivatives (getting there slowly). It’s working out for me quite well. I’d love to know what you think.

    12×2 Pulling variations. I start with Hang Snatch and increase the weight each set until I cant Hang snatch it any more. Then I move on to the next derivative that I can handle more weight with i.e. Power Snatch. Then I continue to load until thats stuffed and move on to the next exercise. Within the 12 sets I use:

    Hang Snatch
    Power Snatch
    Hang Clean
    Power Clean
    High Pull

    So a continuum from speed strength – strength Speed

    at the moment it looks roughly like this…

    60kgs – Hang Snatch
    65kgs – Hang Snatch
    70kgs – Hang Snatch
    75kgs – Power Snatch
    85kgs – Hang Clean
    95kgs – Hang Clean
    105kgs – Hang Clean/Power Clean
    115kgs – Power Clean
    120kgs – Power Clean (by the skin of my teeth)
    125kgs – High Pull
    160kgs – Deadlift (fastish)
    170kgs – Deadlift (pretty bloody slow)

    My aim is to improve by 2.5kgs across the board per week…

    At the moment I tend to do 1x Olympic, 1 x Squat, 1x Posterior chain, 1x UB Press/Pull Superset and finish with abs. My week looks like this…

    Olympic – the above
    Squat – Front squat
    P. Chain – RDL
    Press/Pull – Bench/Bent over row

    Olympic – Hang Clean/Power Clean
    Squat – Back Squat
    P.Chain – Good mornings
    Press/Pull – Military Press/Chins

    Olympic – Hang Snatch/Power Snatch
    Squat – Bulgarian Split Squat
    P. Chain – Single Leg RDL
    Press/Pull – Incline DB Bench/Upright Row

    It’s pretty challenging for me but I am progressing well using it for now, and I’m having fun. For the other exercises i’m using an accum- intens. rep range no greater than 5×5 (still love Bill Star’s big 3 programme) I’ll change it up when it stops working unless you can offer any fine tuning in the mean time?

    Mate hope you are well.


    Hey Adam, I love it, if more people trained like this, well I would be out of work, what a great overall plan to achieve what you want, power/strength and size, great job. I must admit I have really enjoyed using the blocks with Jim Schmitz’s program’s from Milo over the last wee while, like what I posted the other day on workout of the week, if someone used the program exactly as you have written it I would have no additions, it is complete and well thought out, cheers, ash

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