Why 10 x 3 Is Best for Strength and Size
One of the things that has always stuck in my head as far as training goes is to do the opposite of what most do. Breaking Muscle athlete and super-coach Charles Staley is the guy who said this. It’s a fairly simple concept. If you see people using machines, then do free weights. If you see people doing chest and biceps, then do legs.
But the biggest disconnect usually comes when we talk about volume. Everyone knows typical gym training begins with three sets of ten. There is actually some science behind that. Back in the 1960s, Dr. Thomas DeLorme found that people responded better to multiple sets than they did to a single exposure, both in terms of building muscle size and strength (which explains why high-intensity training doesn’t work long term).
While sets of ten will work to begin with, they do have some limitations, especially for the natural trainee. Sooner or later the decreasing intensity in these sets of ten will have you need to work fewer reps per set. To begin with, a set of ten may leave you out of breath and flushed, but it won’t stay that way. The best way to think about it is like going for a jog. At first it’s difficult to even get around the block, but if you keep running those relaxed runs, you will be covering more and more distance pretty quickly. And at that point the only way to get fitter is to run faster
- 3 x 10
- 3-4 x 8
- 5 x 5
- 4 x 6
- 6 x 4
- In a lift like the deadlift, where the set up can often be half the battle, this gives a trainee more opportunities to learn how to set up properly.
- Fatigue per set is kept to a minimum, reducing the possibility of injury. It’s rare to hear of people hurting themselves on the first rep of a set, but far more common for people to push hard while fatigued and hurt themselves on the eight, ninth, or tenth rep.
- Instead of thirty reps done at seventy percent intensity, this is thirty reps done at around 85% intensity.
- Front squats and Romanian deadlifts
- Front squats and power cleans
- Bench press and chins
- Monday: 10 x 3 front squat and power cleans
- Tuesday: 5 x 5 bench press and chins, 3-4 x 6-8 of another upper-body pair
- Wednesday: Rest or easy cardio
- Thursday: Same as Monday
- Friday: Rest or easy cardio
- Saturday: Same as Tuesday
- Sunday: Rest or easy cardio