Author Topic: ascending sets vs 3x5?  (Read 5218 times)

Offline C C G

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ascending sets vs 3x5?
« on: August 17, 2011, 12:53:43 PM »
Hello all!

As you know I started doing weights 2x per week around a month ago.  I do freeweights - lunges, weighted hip thrusts, squats, chest press plus machine - lat pull and leg press.

At the moment I'm doing 'ascending sets' - 15 reps, add weight, 10 reps, add weight, 5 reps.  The 5 rep set is the heaviest I can really lift.  For example on chest press, I do (don't laugh, I'm really wee) 6kg*15, 10kg*10 and 16 kg*5.  On hip thrusts I do 15kg, then 25kg, then 35kg.  On the bigger leg/compound weights there is more of a difference in weight between the sets.

I started with these after reading Art De Vany's 'Evolutionary Fitness' Essay; the reasoning behind it is to use the lower weight sets to exhaust the slow and the medium twitch muscle fibres respectively and so for the heavy set you're using the fast twitch fibres.

However, I've not been experiencing any post-workout soreness after doing these, even though on the final set (5s) I'm lifting the biggest weight I can lift

Should I bin the ascending sets and just go for 3 sets of 5 reps of the heaviest weights I can lift??

Offline Talkurt

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Re: ascending sets vs 3x5?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2011, 08:09:46 PM »
Waiting for an answer on that as well :)

As far as the soreness, ive been doing SL 5x5 for about 3 months now and i dont get sore anymore. Same with the last time i was working out. I read an article about it at some point. It has something to do with your muscles getting use to the stress and dealing with the lactic acid better or something. As long as you are increasing your lifts you are getting stronger though so dont worry.


Offline Il Capo

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Re: ascending sets vs 3x5?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2011, 07:20:33 PM »
First of all, soreness is not an indicator of efectiveness of training (nor is "the pump", i.e. feeling the extra blood flow to the area being worked out).

Having said that, a couple of authors, most notably Rippetoe and Bill Starr, do recommend sets of 5 on big lifts. In particular, Rippetoe recommends 3x5 in one of his programs and 5x5 or 1x5 (depending on weight) in another.

Personally, I've learnt that any weight that I can manage more than 5 to 6 reps per set with is just too low. They are what I would consider warmup weights.

If you are trying to gain muscle mass, go for heavy sets of five.
If you are trying to gain endurance on the particular movement, then go for more reps per set.

Offline Chris

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Re: ascending sets vs 3x5?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 08:58:33 AM »
As Il Capo has said, muscle soreness does not indicate effective training. Personally, I feel that going for muscle soreness every week is detrimental. A lack of muscle soreness indicates that your body is actually adapting to the stress of the movement it's performing, rather than not having trained hard enough. Someone doing 3x5 of a 60kg bench press may be sore after training in the first few weeks, but if he continued to bench that weight for many weeks the soreness will subside.

As for ascending sets vs. 3x5, I'm a bit biased because I do 3x5 in my own training ;D With weights, 3x5 with your heaviest weight places a greater emphasis on strength on every set, rather than just one set at the end. Also, you don't have to keep adding and subtracting weight plates.

What's your goal with your training? Strength? Endurance? Lower BF%? Power?

Offline C C G

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Re: ascending sets vs 3x5?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 06:32:45 PM »
I'm doing 3x5 now.  I reckon my slow-twitch muscles get enough work doing yoga and pilates, and medium-twitch walking around the city....  the whole ascending thing, was such a faff with changing weights and it never felt like a proper workout!

I'm doing deadlift (40kg), squats (25kg), hipthrust (30kg), bench press (15kg) and sometimes lunges...when I can be bothered!  These are my 'beginner' lifts - I'm getting my form correct before stacking them up ;)


Offline 48Dodge

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Re: ascending sets vs 3x5?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2011, 12:55:51 PM »
As Il Capo said, Mark Rippetoe has quite a bit about the 3x5 workouts.  That's what I've been doing for the past year and a half.  Other than some time off due to injuries and just general business, I can progress in strength pretty quickly.  If you're looking for some good reads order a copy of both Starting Strength and Practical Programming.  Don't bother reading what you find online about the Starting Strength program since it's most likely wrong (especially if you see Pendlay rows as part of the workout).  I do miss feeling the pump, but don't miss feeling the soreness.  The only time I'm sore is if I take a week or more off and get back to my normal weights.  I never would have thought it possible to do squats 3 days a week and progress each workout.

Offline samjohn

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Re: ascending sets vs 3x5?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2011, 02:33:20 AM »
I've always got my best results working till I was sore. If I don't get sore, I add more weight.