Try These Rep Schemes for Big Results

The more you train, the better you'll become at adapting to your workouts. To avoid complacency, plateaus and overall boredom, you need to add some flair to your programming to keep your progress up.

In many cases, after awhile, typical rep schemes like 3 sets of 12 or 4 sets of 8 don't cut it for the moderately experienced athlete. It takes outside-the-box thinking to get outside-the-box results.

RELATED: How Many Sets and Reps Should You Really Do?

Here are three rep schemes you can use to push past plateaus and into the next level of your potential.

100 Rep Bursts

100 Rep Burst sets make a great finisher to any training session. These sets are best when you're performing assistance work such as:

  • Row Variations
  • Curl Variations
  • Dumbbell Pressing Variations
  • Dips
  • Pull-Ups
  • Push-Ups
  • Med Ball Slams

You want to challenge yourself intensely, but you also want to use exercises that are safe with this amount of volume, regardless of load. Pick exercises that are easy to fail or bail on. It's probably best to avoid Deadlifts, Olympic lifts and anything overhead when you use this rep scheme. Think DBs and KBs over barbells.

Pick your exercise and load it with a weight you can comfortably hit 12-15 times. Do that exercise for 100 reps with great form, taking as few breaks as possible. Challenge yourself by tracking time or the amount of breaks you take and trying to improve each time you do it.

Superset Countdowns

A Superset Countdown is also a great finisher, but it can be used anywhere in a workout. First or last is my preference.

RELATED: The 5 Best Supersets for Athletes

Pick two exercises to superset together. If you need help, STACK expert Dr. John Rusin wrote a great article about superset selection. In this example, we'll use the Back Squat and Chin-Up combo.

Load the Squat with your 12RM. If needed, you can load the Chin-Up with a vest or chains. Perform 10 Squats superset with 10 Chin-Ups. Without rest, go back to the Squats and perform 9 reps superset with 9 Chin-Ups. Continue to count down all the way to 1 rep of each.

If you want to do a longer countdown, simply go back up from 1 to 10, or adjust the load to a different amount and consider counting down from a higher number. Or both.

Cluster Sets

Cluster Sets are awesome for building brutal strength. Cluster training allows you to train with a high percentage of your 1RM for as much or more volume than you get in a straight set by using pre-determined short rest intervals within each set.

RELATED: Cluster Sets: A Simple Way to Add Strength and Power

This is great for the big compound movements that form the foundation of your strength program, such as the Deadlift, Squat and Bench Press and their variations.

Cluster Sets are more time-based than normal rep schemes. Use 10- to 30-second rest periods after each set with heavy loads for a continuous amount of time or rep goal. Perform one rep at a time with 10-30 seconds rest between reps. Rack the weight in between.

For example, your program may call for 5 sets of 5 with 85% of your Bench Press 1RM. Chances are you will struggle with reps 4 and 5 on sets 4 and 5. You might even fail a couple of times.

Instead of getting buried by the barbell and wasting your time on grinders and ugly reps, Cluster Sets allow you to get nothing but quality reps. Here's how they work:

In this example, 5 sets of 5 equals 25 total Bench Press reps. Set your timer for 30 seconds, keep it nearby or automatic if you have an app for that. Put 85% of your Bench Press 1RM on the bar. Perform one perfect rep, rack it and start your timer. Thirty seconds pass, timer goes off and you immediately hit another perfect rep. Continue this for a set of 13, rest 1-2 minutes, then do the same for a set of 12.

Any rep goal above 15 can be broken into two clusters, as shown above. If you're going for 15 or less, you can bust this out in one long cluster set.

Try to add these rep schemes to your programming and let the gainz begin!


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PULL-UP | PUSH-UP | BUILD MUSCLE | KETTLEBELL EXERCISES | BARBELL EXERCISES | DUMBBELL EXERCISES | BICEP CURL | WORKOUTS | EXERCISING | OLYMPIC LIFTS | MED BALL | PRESS | NEXT LEVEL