The Ten Set Method

"Mr. Chan, I am a police officer in North Carolina and was drawn to your books because of your law enforcement involvement. In your book Strength and Physique: The Articles you have a sample training split for arm hypertrophy. On Day Three, you suggest completing ten sets of 4 reps for curls and power rack presses.

"I have an issue with taking every set to failure. I feel like I need to do this. However, I want to follow your suggestions (I bought three of your books). At what point do I begin to take these sets to failure? The last set? Currently, I warm up and then take three sets to failure. I have never had anyone explain how to actually do ten sets in regards to muscle failure. I appreciate any advice you could lend."

Thank You,
Dan B.


My Answer: First off, Happy Holidays and thanks for buying all three of my books. With regards to the 10 set method, what you'll need to do is select the appropriate weight. In the back training chapter of Strength and Physique: The Articles I discussed the ten set method for pull-ups. If you could perform 8 pull-ups, then you would be performing half the number of reps for each set: 10 sets of 4 reps.

It works the same way with the 10 set method for the arm specialization program. Choose an 8 rep max weight for both curls and power rack presses. Perform 10 sets of 4 reps of each exercise with your 8RM. If you've determined your 8RM correctly, then the first few sets should be relatively easy. About midway through the sets (4-8), however, it should get difficult. You will train to failure on those sets and that's OK. As long you're within striking distance of you target rep (going to failure at 3-4 reps), then you're good. We want your nervous system to compensate and adapt to the repeated effort.

If you're performing sets of 1-2 reps midway through the sets, then obviously the weight is too heavy. If you breeze through 10 sets of 4 reps with no problem, then obviously the weight was too light. Adjust accordingly for the next workout.
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