When to end a set?

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@305pelusa, google it - not a StrongFirst thing, for sure.

It's said tongue-in-cheek. I've been doing 8's for bench press once a week.

-S-
 

kodo kb

Triple-Digit Post Count
It doesn't bother me at all because I do my own thing. But your comment (which I know was half kidding) about anything over 5 being cardio would've been ridiculed by the Party 10 years ago.
The Party is always right. The Party is right now, and The Party was right before. Be a good little comrade and do not question The Party, only listen and lift.
[/shtick]

More seriously @305pelusa, my favorite guidelines are the ones in Pavel's Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) book.

EDIT: Below is the original RKC guidelines. Finally figured out how to turn an image to a video, which seemed like the easiest way to post the guidelines and have more control over taking it off the Internet if @Steve Freides requests me to do so. You will need to pause it to have the time to read it, and will probably need to view it in fullscreen as well.

ES and BBB have good guidelines as well, but the RKC just sums up everything so well in my mind. I don't know if SF has actually moved so far away from those guidelines, but I do think that many of the more active/vocal on the forum express only a low-rep method of training---sometimes despite an OP's stated goals or preferences.

While I see the logic in the low-rep approach, and do use it for most of my training, on the forum it can seem like people are thinking-in-boxes. While I am unsure if I 100% agree with it's implications, I like the Nietzsche quote Pavel used at the top of the RKC Guidelines chapter:
The will to a system is a lack of integrity.
In short, I don't think you've taken crazy pills, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that SF has deviated far from the original RKC book. I think what you are observing is an over-presription of the tenets of SF, without always looking at the nuances that Pavel's work normally mentions.
 
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Carl

Triple-Digit Post Count
A couple of Bruce Lee quotes come to mind:

“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”

"Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is uniquely your own"



Many ways work. If low reps work for your goals, great. If higher reps work, great as well.

SF methods work, Pavel's methods work but strength history is littered with other approaches that work as well.

Most of us are here, I'm guessing, because we're all Pavel fans. That doesn't mean we all have to train in the same manner (I'm pretty sure that's not Pavel's intention).

Hope this puts an end to this thread as it has taken a turn or two away from my original intention (rep speed experiences).

Stay strong all! ;)
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Hope this puts an end to this thread as it has taken a turn or two away from my original intention (rep speed experiences).

Stay strong all! ;)
I mean hopefully the thread doesn't make anyone feel uncomfortable 0_o Sometimes threads take their own path, for the benefit of everyone.

Also, the amount of reps is intimately connected to rep speed. People who push their reps higher will naturally slow down somewhat through the set. Those who cap it at 8 reps (like @Ryan Toshner ) benefit from always having fast, powerful reps. Getting the same volume by cutting reps and adding sets is an excellent way to ensure rep speed remains top-notch, and increases muscle drive.

I know saying "many ways work" or "not saying you're wrong, just that I'm right" are non-combative and make for a good forum. But you risk not learning much.

There's many forums out there where people are very passionate about their approaches. So passionate, they'll go far enough to say others are wrong. That can be harsh, but it does ensure that not only methods are being mentioned, but also why they work and what the trade-offs are. So a balance is important of course.


Looking back on this thread, "many methods work" is actually a crude summary. We know high reps work because of specificity as it mimics the metabolic demands of an actual longer set. But it's harder to overtain on lower reps, and they absolutely will keep your speed and form on point.

So now, if you were to train for a high rep challenge, you don't simply know "many ways to skin a cat". You know exactly what approach will work better and why depending on your recovery ability, skill, age, weeks until contest and many other factors.

At least that's the way I see it. I think you lose all that if you simply back off and say "oh ok cool works for you. This works for me. Let's not discuss further".
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@kodo kb :SF has moved away from those guidelines to an extent. Look at them. S&S doesn't follow any of them except for 5,8 and 9 (which are basic common-sense).

Those guidelines seem pretty glycolitic to me. High rep ballistics. Exercises done in circuits. Presses done with various pauses.

KB conditioning sessions started as HIIT. I recall many articles detailing KB work with HIIT protocols on DD in order to drastically improve conditioning "without the dishonor of dieting and aerobics".

That's right. We used to mock aerobics. We felt superior with our HIIT protocols that delivered twice the fitness and fat loss, in half the time. Ironically, in a similar way that most people look down on Xfit and metabolic conditioning now that we feel better with our alactic work. What's most amusing to me is seeing people go back to aerobic work with things like the Maffetone method.. Ironic indeed.

I think it's maybe only the seasoned people who have been around for some time that can make that connection between the Party and what is now SF.

Ok yeah, this is definitely not about this thread so won't comment further. Just wanted to see if I was the only one.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I see exactly what you mean @305pelusa, and as I've always found the energy systems part of the equation to be fascinating (perhaps because I came to kettlebells after being a cyclist for many years) I always try to see the various kettlebell (and bodyweight) program and protocols through this lens. Conditioning? Strength? Aerobic/alactic/glycolytic? Etc. They definitely span a large scope, both in design and in execution. The variations are endless.

But having been in the military for many years, I got used to the pendulum effect.... We go too far one way, we swing back the other... what is old becomes new, and then passé, and then cycles around again. But that is not the same thing as saying "everything works" -- there are definitely some important distinctions, and things to learn. Which is why I also like the previous post and agree with it as well. I'd rather see someone politely nitpick something than overgeneralize and gloss over it. Finding those detailed distinctions and challenging each other on them leads to better understanding.

We are less than a week away from the first "Strong Endurance" seminar by Pavel, happening this weekend. I wonder when the rest of us will have access to the material that will be presented, and what will it reveal, relative to these topics....?
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
Forgive me for stepping into a bodyweight topic. It's been a long while since I did a push-up. And the last pull-up was even longer ago. But a lot of the discussion was about programming, which I consider to be universal, and a bit about big lines, drawn in sand...

Absolute strength is the master quality. One of my absolute favourite articles on the site goes by that name. It is true. But... every individual has his or her own goals. And when it comes to goals and achieving them, nothing beats specificity.

If I wanted to do for high reps in pull-ups or push-ups or whatever, I would absolutely think that I would have to train high reps in the exercises in question. But, and the big but, comes when I ask when I should train them in high reps. If I have a goal I have to reach absolutely tomorrow or at the worst a day after, it's specificity, specificity, specificity. But... when it comes to "I'd like to be able to do it some day", I'll always go for being strong first. Strong first.

When it comes to cardio, I've yet to see a thing come after me. When it happens, and I'm sufficiently afraid, I will run. Until that happens, no thanks.
 

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I agree with all the above. I personally have tried a bunch of rep/set/%1RM schemes and they all pretty much do what the literature claims they will do. Its when people attribute all manner of cross-over/non specific benefits that not everyone experiences, the feathers start to fly.

To me, one of the absolute most important factors in any routine I'm following is how long the entire workout takes. GPP at the highest level I can spare time for. In fact I am always looking for ways to compress it more, longer sessions are an absolute luxury.

@Carl, let us know what protocol you adopt and how it works out. In the meantime we'll just keep chewing on the topic you started, chatting over here by the water-cooler while you slip off back to work. :D
 

Marc

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I would say there is a time and place for nearly every rep range.
Let's consider the OAP. This is a highly technical move which also requires a lot of neural drive. So it should be used with low volume and perfect tecnique without failing.
However there are some exercises that can be hammered out in the high rep range like pushups, pullups, lunges etc.
Of course it also depends on the strength level of the practitioner. A regular push up might be someones OAP.
The less neurologically demanding the more reps you can do and the more likely you might go to failure, I would say.
Also one might consider high rep compound moves, without going to failure, to strenghten the connective tissue.
 

SolidBrawn

Triple-Digit Post Count
If I wanted to do for high reps in pull-ups or push-ups or whatever, I would absolutely think that I would have to train high reps in the exercises in question. But, and the big but, comes when I ask when I should train them in high reps. If I have a goal I have to reach absolutely tomorrow or at the worst a day after, it's specificity, specificity, specificity. But... when it comes to "I'd like to be able to do it some day", I'll always go for being strong first. Strong first.
I agree. Saying "I want to be able to do lots of pull-ups just because" is completely open-ended and you could approach programming in many different ways with little (if any) constraints. In that case I would also lean towards just getting stronger.

For a goal of 50+ Pull-ups, I couldn't imagine managing that without some high rep work, and I think a lot of that ties into the whole energy system discussion. If you train Pull-ups with 75kg additional weight for reps, no doubt you're strong AF, but I'm willing to bet that this strength won't carry over to meet the metabolic demands of muscles at 20-30+ unweighted reps. Again, specificity. However, I am not an expert and I'm just waxing theoretical.

Its when people attribute all manner of cross-over/non specific benefits that not everyone experiences, the feathers start to fly.
Very true.

A riveting discussion, folks!
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

In general, stop a set when
> form start to degrade
> in function of the weight / difficulty regarding to a specific goal (1/5 for strength ; 6/12 for hypertrophy ; 12+ for endurance)

Nonetheless, two things to remember:
> nothing beats specificity if one has a precise goal
> some kind of efforts transfer better to another, but this is not necessarily reciprocal.

For instance this article on SF website:
Strength in Numbers: A Case for Push-up Endurance Training
In this cas, endurance transfers very well to max strength maintenance without specific training. However it seems that max strength does not create endurance (to a certain extent of course) because the number of PU increased a lot.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 
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