• Thomas Wheeler

Sets, reps and training during finals

In the last post, we went over fatigue and how this affects your training - in this post, we examine the sets and rep ranges to adhere to during specific stages of your macrocycle or 'training plan'. Firstly, there are some questions to ask yourself..

Step 1; define your current training stage or 'phase'.

What part of your season are you in? Pre-season... mid-season... finals? This question is the most important question - this gives you the what... what am I training for! I.e. thinking to AFL, during the season, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to get fit and bulk up - this demands far too much energy and increases unnecessary fatigue (want to know more on fatigue? Click here). You are, however, trying to maintain strength and power. This is the what factor.

Step 2; outline your training goal.

This next step is where we work on the why... Why are we trying to achieve (insert goal) in the given stage or phase? Lets give this context; you're 1 game out from the end of season... is it important to make sure you hit your biceps one last time before finals to give you a competitive edge? Absolutely. There is a strong correlation between biceps size and ego.

Okay, so maybe not so much... serious now, last game of the season and you're trying to gain muscle... important? No. Maintain explosiveness? Yes. You now have the what and why! So you maybe wondering 'what does this all have to do with how many sets and reps to perform?' Everything.

Step 3; design your training stimulus.

This is where the fun begins! Remember this graph from the previous post?

This relates to your goal we set back in step 1; the what, what phase are we to work in, to garner the best adaptation? During the late stage of the season, you should ONLY be aiming for maintenance.. its too late for the 2 tickets to the gun show fellas! And what mean velocity is that you ask? .5 - 1.0m/s on average. This is the middle of the force velocity curve, and will give you best bang for buck.

So, how does this relate to sets and reps?

WELL... based on the literature, maintaining power during the late stage of a season would require the load (weight) to be MODERATE-HIGH, sets HIGH and reps LOW - this all equals a HIGH intensity and LOW *volume load training environment (*volume load = total n. of reps x weight OR duration x sRPE)

Which looks like this for a set of ; 6 x 4,4,3,2,2,1 @ 85-95% 1RM w/ 3-5 min rest after each set. So to work out load, using hypothetical 1RM's...

1RM - 100kg @ 85-95% = 85-95kg's

Reps = 16

Volume load = 1360-1520kg's

Still with me? Now using these same parameters, using a traditional bodybuilding regimen of 4 x 8 reps @ 75% 1RM, gives you a total of;

1RM - 100kg @ 75% = 75kg's

Reps = 32

Volume load = 2400kg's

As you can see, traditional bodybuilding training simply DOESN'T cut the mustard anymore, and is leading you into a fatigued state..

So, remembering that VOLUME LOAD and FATIGUE are synonymous, sets and reps are vitally important to monitor during crucial aspects of your season/sport - and can spell the difference between make or break!


  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle