When deciding just what type of bulk and power routine you are going to use, you sooner or later will have to come up against the following question: What number of sets and repetitions is best for gaining bulk and power?
You see, you are not going to be the only one who has ever asked such a question. No, for surely this question is one of the most commonly asked by all beginners. The real problem here is that since we all are basically different, then it seems natural and logical to assume that sometimes what will work for one will not work for another. Some fellows will be able to use a certain number of sets and reps and for them it will be the answer to their prayers.
However, you or I might try the same routine and for us, we not only would we fail to gain, but we might actually lose in the process! This is what makes it so hard to deal with this problem. There are just too many different kinds of men for us to be able to use any one certain set rule to govern repetitions and sets in lifting exercises. There are too many variables involved within this problem for us to come up with any clear cut answer for everyone once they're out of the beginner stage. And it's too bad we can't, for this would make it very easy for us indeed, to decide just what it is we should do. This would take al of the guesswork out of it.
But we would also take away THE INDIVIDUALITY of the 'man at work' so to speak. The right for us to choose, competently, comprehensively, and most of all, logically; this most assuredly would be done away with. We would become so bored with the same dull and drab training routine, using the same set scheme of sets and repetitions that in the long run most of us would give up training anyway. So you see, it is actually good for us to have to choose among so many different, possible schedules of sets and repetitions. This way we will enjoy more interesting training periods and in the long run will develop quite a bit of a training background and have interesting memories and topics to discuss with out friends and those who are interested in physical culture.
However, setting aside the idealistic attitude involved within our problem of selecting sets and repetitions in order to achieve our aims, we will have to use as a basis for our choice the experiences of ourselves and others we know and read about, and how we ourselves react to certain sets and reps and how others have reacted also. [Mr. Ditillo seemed to have a real desire to write long, winding sentences. Shortly after, well, a couple years after first being drawn to his stuff, I set out to find some of the 'outer reaches' of authors who did likewise. No, not jokers who intentionally wrote some very long sentences with the length as the actual goal. Writers who chose to write very long sentences, used semicolons repeatedly in single sentences and . . . you get the idea of what I was looking for. At the far reaches I came up with Sri Aurobindo, born 1872, died 1950, which gave him plenty of time to write these long and winding sentences. Because he dealt with mysticism and the philosophy of spiritual evolution his choice of very lengthy snaking sentences proved to be the perfect match for what he was trying to share with his readership. This guy can take you, in the space of a sentence that runs on for two or three pages, so far into your own head that it often becomes questionable if he's ever going to help you come back. And that, my friends, is the joy of running a blog that takes on absolutely no for-profit adverts or like promotions. The author can just ramble on and get lost following a tangential flight plan whenever he or she so desires. Seriously, Mr. Ditillo did have a penchant for the longish sentences.]
Basically, though, past the beginner stages the only trainer you can trust in handling your personal training problems is yourself. [This was written well before the personal trainer/coach business of idolatry blossomed out and became what it is now. If you has money you has to haves a personal trainer/coach or you simply is not reaching your maximum progresses, eh. Written long before nonprofessional lifting (read 'hobby') became the somewhat perverted for-profit fiasco it now is. Or might be, depending on how you perceive things. Personally, I've always perceived 'fiasco' to be a word of the highest order.]
However, to carry on before I'm rudely interrupted once more, what I am getting at is this: Only you know exactly how your body responds toward a certain type of exercise and only you can logically determine just what kind of workout will benefit you the most. So, in a sense, you are your own best trainer. But since you are most likely not yet an expert in the field of physical culture when it comes to the best form of training for your own specific goals, you will have to look everywhere for quite some time in order to find the suitable information you need. It can be done over time, and with perseverance, consistency and adequate keeping of records you will become your own best coach and trainer.
And after all that . . . here is a good example of one of Anthony Ditillo's favorite style routines:
I, myself, have a definite opinion as to how my body adjusts to to various stimuli (in this case the stimuli would be reps and sets).
I have found that I gain in bulk and power most readily when I use four training periods per week.
I perform one pressing movement, one pulling movement, and one squatting movement each workout.
I do not perform the same movement two days in a row.
Seated Half Press
High Deadlift in Rack
And there you have a perfect example of the type of training routine I seem to thrive on. As for the sets and repetitions I perform, my schedule usually looks like this:
A) First set use 5 reps with 50% of 1-rep max.
B) 5 to 7 singles using 90% of 1-rep max.
C) One set of as many reps as possible with 75% of 1-rep max.
For me, this type of routine has always been most gratifying. I have gained the most bulk and power ever, using this type of routine.
Now, I cannot positively tell you that if you perform the same routine you will gain also; this is because of many possible things. For instance, suppose you did not particularly like my type of routine but decided to try it nonetheless. Why, your mental attitude would cause you to fail in obtaining results right from the very beginning. You did not want to follow my type of routine in the first place, so it would be foolish of you, indeed, to expect outstanding results with this type of mental attitude.
However, there is also the possibility that such a routine would either be too fatiguing (or not severe enough) for your particular system to accept it as being good. Such a routine might cause you to become too fat and on the other hand it might also cause you to not gain at all.
So you see, you can use my sets and repetitions as examples for your future training routines but you cannot and should not consider (once past the beginner stages) any information you receive from me or from anyone else as being completely correct and true as far as everyone else is concerned, for this would be a grave mistake. For by taking such an attitude of blind acceptance you would be denying yourself the ability to think, to decipher, and to decide. You would become a robot able to perform only the tasks which are computed into your brain.
----- Okay, the obvious question about that routine above. Full Squat on Monday followed by Half Squat on Tuesday. Regular Deadlift on Thursday followed by Rack Pull on Friday. You can't do that and still gain!
Have you even tried any of the 'You Can't Do It Like That and Gain' approaches
before condemning them?
All's good as long as it's in the right place at the right time.