Understanding Sets Across
As you all know, we've been telling all our level 1 athletes to perform "sets across" during our lifting days. For those of you just jumping on board or who might be a little confused, here's the 101 on what we're talking about.
Essentially, "Sets Across" just means that you'll be doing the same weight for all your work sets on a given lift. For example, if you're Back Squatting 5x5, you'll do 3-4 warm-up sets at increasing weights and then perform all 5 reps of all 5 work sets at the same weight. This is in contrast to "Maximal Effort" lifting in which you'd be gaming for a maximal weight at a given rep range. Many of our newer athletes are not ready neurologically or structurally for this type of lifting and need a ramp up period of sets across to avoid injury and set themselves up for larger gains in the future.
At CFSBK, we pick a pool of 2-3 movements and rotate them for a period of 4 weeks. In the upcoming cycle that starts tomorrow, you'll be seeing Back Squats, Presses and Deadlifts quite regularly. Because you know that you'll get 4 exposures to each of these lifts over the next couple weeks, you can game out a strategy for 4 successful lifting sessions. Here are two examples of what we'd love to see in your log books at the end of the cycle.
Week 1 75x5x5
Week 2 80x5x5
Week 3 85x5x5
Week 4 87x5x5
Week 1 135x5x5
Week 2 145x5x5
Week 3 155x5x5
Week 4 160x5x5
This hypothetical athlete completed all 4 exposures and was able to increase their weights each time. They never went to failure because they had a plan and were not greedy with weight. The next time these lifts come up, they'll be able to start at the 3 or 4 week weight and continue to linearly increase their numbers. Again, with sets across, you'll have to put your lifting into a larger perspective than just what you're doing that day. You're building a foundation of strength, one brick at at time.
How do I know what weight to start with?
Simply start with something that feels light. Too light. If you pick a weight that has you struggling to finish your reps the first couple weeks, you've gone too heavy. Remember that you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of weight lifting and there's no need to rush into big weights. If you've had some lifting exposure and want to try Sets Across, take your existing max at that rep range and subtract %~20 off of it for a starting weight.
What if I start missing reps?
Eventually you will start to miss reps, ideally this won't be for a full 2-3 cycles of the movement in question. When this happens, you need to ask yourself and a Coach the following questions: "Was I too greedy with weight?", "Is my technique/mobility on this movement sufficiently developed to handle larger loads?" "Am I having an off day? Did I plan my warm-up sets correctly?" Once we dig a little, we can find out what's going on and help you strategize to keep moving forward. Sometimes you just need to try the same weight again the following week and sometimes you'll have to drop some weight off the bar and start building back up.
What if I don't come often enough to hit all of these lifting sessions?
If you can only make it to CFSBK a 1-2 times per week, choose one of the movements (Ideally the squat variant) and focus on it for the next four weeks. You may have to come in a little early or stay late to get your lifts in which is okay with us as long as it doesn't interfere with the running class before or after your own. This scenario becomes a little more case by case. If you don't know what to do, consult with one of the coaches and we'll steer you in the right direction.
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