Single Set Programs

Ask or answer questions, discuss and express your views

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, ianjay, stuward

Post Reply
SumYungGi
n00b
n00b
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:27 pm

Single Set Programs

Post by SumYungGi » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:06 pm

I've stalling with my program (Stronglifts) for the past few weeks, and I think part of the problem is psychological. When I'm in the middle of my first set, I think to myself 'There's no way I can do 5 sets of this'. I find this barrier prevents me from exerting myself at full, because I always feel I have to hold something in reserve.

I originally started lifting with a program where you do one exercise until failure, and then raise the weight if you did over 12 reps. I found this was good, because I could always push myself, and if I failed to finish the exercise, I didn't fail at the work out as a whole.

Are there any good programs that use the single-set methodology? What do people think of it?

User avatar
Dub
Advanced Member
Advanced Member
Posts: 1142
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:40 pm
Location: Lapland, Finland

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by Dub » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:49 pm

Have you tried lowering the sets to 3x5? I know what you mean, that 5x5 is hell when the weight gets hard. Now that I moved to higher intensity, the weights keep moving up and it's easier to put your mind to those three sets. Or lower reps, crank up the intensity by doing 3x3 or 5x3. 5x1 isn't unheard of either, but I personally think it takes a bit advanced lifter to focus on singles.

One set of one move sounds bit bad to me. Only way it would work is that you build up to the set. Like build to your 10RM, 5RM, 3RM or like in your case, 12RM. Or somewhere near those numbers. But then it's not one set program. Few of the previous sets aren't warm-ups in my opinion, since you have to work real hard before you hit your true max. Plus, going to failure every workout will most likely burn you out quite fast and wreck your progress.

However, the main thing that is wrong is:
If I would train you, and you would say that 'There's no way I can do 5 sets of this', I would say somewhere along "Shut up and lift". You're making yourself fail before you try. If you want to quit, you don't want to get stronger. It's all about the mindset and motivation. 5 sets are alot, but it is not impossible. If it gets impossible, lower the weights a bit, then build to it and smash that weight. Worked for me. Failure on the set is not the same than getting ready to fail on the set. You can get rid of that "psychological issue".
Physical Preparedness Coach
Co-Owner of UniFit Oy.

SumYungGi
n00b
n00b
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:27 pm

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by SumYungGi » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:03 pm

Maybe lowering the number of sets would be sufficient. The idea behind the 1 set is that you do it until failure, so if you misjudge your strength level, it's okay, you can adjust for next session.

I know that there is a certain degree of 'manning-up' involved in lifting, but when you absolutely despise doing the lift because you know you're going to be grinding your way through it and your form is going to hell unless you keep lowering your weight then it makes sense to try and work a bit smarter. I'm not a professional lifter, and I don't know what I'm doing most of the time. I'd rather do a less effective program that I can follow well than a great program I can't follow at all. Right now, ANY improvement would be welcome, even a slow one.

Oscar_Actuary
Veteren Member
Veteren Member
Posts: 2406
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:12 pm

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:17 pm

Maybe it's time you stopped doing sets across, and did ramping sets.
Some change and less adherence to a prescribed dictated protocol, may do you some good.

SumYungGi
n00b
n00b
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:27 pm

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by SumYungGi » Sun Jan 15, 2012 8:54 pm

Oscar_Actuary wrote:Maybe it's time you stopped doing sets across, and did ramping sets.
Some change and less adherence to a prescribed dictated protocol, may do you some good.
Yeah, I'm starting to think that'd be a good idea. I'm looking at Starr's work now. Any recommendations?

User avatar
KenDowns
Advanced Member
Advanced Member
Posts: 1415
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 2010 10:48 pm
Location: New York, USA
Contact:

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by KenDowns » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:26 am

I also did single set when I started, and also went to stronglifts after that. Once the weights get heavy it is really brutal.

The official SL protocol is to go to 3x5 once you've stalled the third time on an exercise, so if you do that you are still on stronglifts.

Following some general advice given here, I went to Wendler's 5/3/1 after Stronglifts and have found it to be really cool.

Oscar_Actuary
Veteren Member
Veteren Member
Posts: 2406
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:12 pm

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:39 am

imo, 5/3/1 would be good for exposure to ramping and periodization; but depending on your current rate of potential progress it may be too slow for you and also not hit the major lifts as frequently as you would most benefit you.

User avatar
Jungledoc
moderator
moderator
Posts: 7578
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:11 am
Location: Kudjip, Papua New Guinea

Re: Single Set Programs

Post by Jungledoc » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:22 pm

Oscar_Actuary wrote:Maybe it's time you stopped doing sets across, and did ramping sets.
Some change and less adherence to a prescribed dictated protocol, may do you some good.
What Oscar said, except maybe not particularly ramping sets.

Why should every set be the same reps?

Why should every rep be the same load?

The reason people stall on routines like StrongLifts or Starting Strength isn't all the recovery mumbo jumbo that their authors put out, they stall because the routines add work faster than the human body can gain strength. Eventually the work catches up with your strength gain, and you can't keep doing it. Doing 5x5 is, obviously, 25 reps. Adding even 5 pounds to each of 25 reps is a huge increase in work load. So why not just add a rep to one or two of the sets? Why not just increase the weight for one of the sets, and not necessarily the last one? Starting with 5 sets, I don't like to add sets, but especially if you are doing fewer sets, it's easy at some point just to add a set, and maybe not even as big a set as the others. Deciding "I'm doing 5x5" or "I'm doing 3x8" locks you into a rigid routine that you don't need to be in. You could do sets of 5,7,5. Maybe next time do 5,7,7 and next time add weight to the middle set. Or if you finish your 3 sets, and you feel like you still have something left, throw in another set. Or do your 3 sets with whatever weight, then throw on 10 or 15 pounds and do a single. Once you break out of the XbyX prison, you're free to progress as your body wants to progress. But you have to be thinking all the time, and that's hard for some of us. But if an old dog like me can learn, so can you!

By the way, if you have been doing this sort of progression for a while, you end up with bigger and bigger sets, and more and more sets. At some point you have to take the reps and sets back down to something simple, but now at a higher intensity than before, and start working things up again.
Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.--Francis Chan

Post Reply