3 sets of 10

“Down!”  “Up!”                                                                                                                                   This was the alpha and omega of the coaching cues I overheard this week while observing a trainer having an obvious beginner bench press.

Literally, that and the repetition number was all that was said.  The trainer was on his phone between sets while the client performed (you guessed it) ten burpees between bench press sets.  The highly convenient three sets of ten reps…for everything they did.

“3 sets of 10 is not the magic formula for every exercise or all adaptations”                           Me, running my mouth on Facebook.

On its own,there is nothing inherently wrong with performing 3 sets of 10 repetitions for a given exercise. (1)

Whether its a good idea or not depends on a few things, For who?, For what intended purpose? (desired adaptation), Can the person do a single repetition well? (Technique, style,form and control?) and does the trainer know that other set and repetition schemes might be more appropriate for the person in front of them?

In this weeks case, the client could not perform a single repetition well, and I lay responsibility for this on the trainer. In my opinion the client would have been better served training in a lower repetition range,even if total volume (30 total repetitions) were equated.


Credit: StrongerbyScience (2)

A few thoughts on this weeks observation….

“Up” and “Down” might be the extent of what the trainer knows about bench pressing and working outside their depth.

The trainer does know how to instruct exercises, but was being lazy and not training the client to the level of their professional ability.

“Universal 3×10” is mentally easy to apply.

Based on a single observation, fatigue seemed to be the goal of the session and safety was not a consideration.  I come to this conclusion given the fact that burpees (a fatiguing full body exercise) were placed between bench press repetitions. Fatigue leads to technical decay, and the bench press is rather technical lift.

Burpees may have been used as a time filler/breath taker/sweat maker more than anything else. I form that opinion based on the fact the trainer was on his phone in between the clients sets during the primary exercise.

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22592167

2. https://www.strongerbyscience.com/hypertrophy-range-fact-fiction/


One thought on “3 sets of 10

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