What Rippetoe refers to as “sets across” I refer to as “weight constants.” Things like 3-5 sets of 5 reps, 8 sets of 8 reps, 10 sets of 10 reps with the weight staying constant for all sets. This is one basic but effective program design strategy. I have one program that goes from 12 sets of 12 reps during the first week of the program, all the way down to 5 sets of 5 reps by the fourth week. NOTE: When using “weight constants” in programs designed for physique development, going below 5 reps takes you into strength training and load-centric concerns (lifting more weight) and further away from dense muscle development focus.
Weight constants as a strategy is of course best assigned to the major compound lifts, like bent rows, deadlifts, squats, presses, incline presses etc. And just because weight constant is a basic design strategy – do not overlook it. It is one of most effective design strategies you can implement – if you know what you are doing. And this is because it creates very effective “neuromuscular efficiency.” And I will explain that to you this way:
Understanding Neuromuscular Efficiency
My problem with most newbie experts in this industry is that their understanding of adaptations to exercise is myopic and limited to “musculoskeletal” concerns only. But the truth is neurophysiology goes much deeper in explaining muscle fiber recruitment and adaptive response to training stimuli. So, for example, when it comes to weight-constants and why they are so effective, it’s because weight constants enhance neuromuscular efficiency.
Let me explain this with an analogy:
Neuromuscular efficiency is a lot like understanding a highway system. Let’s say you live in a town and getting across the city every day for work has always been a pain in the ass. You have to drive slowly through residential neighborhoods, and there are stop signs and traffic lights to contend with. And all of this slows you down and slows down your transit time.
Now imagine some city planners and engineers get together and they come up with this idea of this thing called “a freeway.” So they build this four-lane transit system that doesn’t go through neighborhoods and doesn’t have stop signs and traffic lights. What happens?
Lo and behold your daily jaunt across the city is now “more efficient,” and it has fewer obstacles.
Well the neuromuscular efficiency created by using “weight constants” for multiple sets works the same way.
It establishes and enhances neuromuscular efficiency by creating unencumbered “patterns” to and from working muscles – just like 4-lane highways create unemcumbered “patterns” to and from various parts of the city.
So when it comes to neuromuscular efficiency, there is a hell of a lot more to building a physique than just lifting “heavy” weights.
Coach Scott Abel is now well into his 4th decade as an expert in the physique-transformation game. He has been known as the Trainer of Champions and has Coached Olympia Winners Figure Pros, models, and taken clients from beginner level to National Titles and beyond – and of course Coach Abel now Coaches all those who want to improve.
Coach Abel has been a writer, ghost writer, and columnist in the industry – and is now a best-selling author on Amazon as well. Scott’s latest book, The Hardgainer Solution, is a bestseller on Amazon, and is available now.
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