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Sets & Reps The Finer Points - Athletes might only get 3 reps on the first set and 2 reps on the second set. What do you do? Read these 7 steps.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Spring 2001


Two things must happen to progress. You must be able to do two sets of ten repetitions on four of the core lifts: The Box Squat, Parallel Squat, Towel Bench and Bench Press. You must be able to do two sets of five repetitions on the remaining two core lifts: The Power Clean and the Hex Bar lift which is optional. Each rep must be done with perfect technique or it does not count. If you can get both sets with the correct number of repetitions, you may go up five pounds the next week. Always record the date that you successfully completed the two sets (as shown in CHART 1). The partial record charts illustrated in this article are just like the charts in the BFS Readiness Program book or Readiness Card.


Coaches and athletes must remember that a beginning lifter going from 65 to 70 pounds on the bench is not like an advanced athlete going from 265 to 270 pounds. It is much more than a five pound increase concept. Think percentage! Going from 65 to 70 pounds is a 7.7% increase.
With that in mind, you should not be surprised if 65 pounds is easy and 70 pounds is hard. Sometimes Readiness Program athletes might only get 3 reps on the first set and 2 reps on the second set. What do you do? When this happens, use the following procedure:

1. On the first four weeks of the program the athlete did everything smoothly.

2. On February 13th, 2000 he could only do 3 reps on the first set and 2 reps on the second set.

3. Record (3-2) and date it 2-13. (See CHART 2)

4. Now drop down 15 pounds to 50 pounds and do 10 reps. You can’t build by doing one set of three and one set of two reps. You need to do more.

5. The next week you should be thinking “Do I want to win?” Of course you do! So get psyched up to beat the 3 reps on the first set, the 2 reps on the second set and the total of 5 reps. In our example, on February 20th, the athlete got 6 reps and then 3 reps for a total of 9 reps. He broke his record! He won! Now because he did not get 2 sets of 10 reps, he must again drop 15 pounds and do 50 pounds for another set of 10 reps.

6. On February 27th the exact same procedure is followed. In our example, the athlete got 9 reps followed by another 7 reps which broke his record of 6 and 3 reps. Again, this athlete should do a third set by doing 10 reps at 50 pounds.

7. Finally, on March 3rd, the athlete got his two sets of 10 reps at 65 pounds. This means he can go to 70 pounds on March 10th.

Some athletes who are younger and/or smaller can have great challenges, for example, going from 50 to 55 pounds. We now have 1.25 pound plates. So now that big "10%" jump can be cut in half. Instead of a five-pound jump, you can now make 2.5 pound jumps. These new plates are just the ticket for the challenged young athlete at this level.

The BFS Readiness Program
1.25 Pound Olympic Plate
Chart 1
Chart 2
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