So What Is a Working Set Anyways?

So What Is a Working Set Anyways?

The past 2 weeks have been what I call our transition phase of the year/season, one of 2 times like it during the year. This past one saw a lot of testing of 1 rep max for lifts to establish some baselines for going forward the rest of the year. During this time I talked a lot about how the work is written out during Strength time for class and how you should go about it. “Working sets” was thrown around a lot, so I figured I should maybe talk about exactly what a working set is.

Rep Schemes As Written

How I write the reps out on the board is important in telling you what to do for that day’s work. Simply put, whatever is written out in terms of numbers is a working set, a set that is factored in as part of the greater whole of whatever the goal for the day is. Regardless of what your max is for the given lift, working sets are around 80% of your 1 rep max for that particular lift. Sometimes it will be 75% or so if the work is written as an EMOM or E90S like today (Thursday) due to the less time to rest due to the nature of an EMOM.


How Muscles Work…Basically

Moving weight with speed, or perceived speed once it gets very heavy, is what leads to us getting stronger because of how muscle is structured. Muscles are made of many little fibers connected to many little motor units (nerves) that work in an order of smallest to largest. The smallest fire when presented with the need to do basic work, the largest when we are taxed to the maximum. As you probably can guess, these largest muscle fibers are what we need to lift big weight. Since they are only used when taxed to that necessary maximum, the only way we can use them and therefore get stronger is get them to fire. Moving with speed can simulate the same exertion need as a heavy weight, therefore causing bigger to biggest muscle fibers and units to fire even if it’s lighter.

This means, in a sense, we can get the same stimulus that makes us stronger through recovery as if we were lifting 95% and higher every single rep. This is essentially impossible for us normal people to do day in and day out without breaking down, or breaking in half.


So Why 80%?

80% is the magic number where, based on the rep scheme, you are able to move the weight fast enough to create this speed stimulus we want for building strength. In class we instruct you to just increase as you go because we don’t want to get too technical in a general population class. However, there is a rather specific way to increase your % based on the reps required that has been proven in the past to illicit the proper speed for the lift. I have found that really all we need is to lift for sets of 5 reps or less at this 80% or higher mark and we get pretty close if not exactly what we want in both weight lifted and speed it can be lifted at. All you have to do is make sure you are lifting the weight as fast as you can no matter the weight.

So in short, 80% of your 1rm and higher, if lifted with the perceived intensity of a 1 rm lift every time, gives you the stimulus of lifting a max lift every time you do. This will in turn give you the reaction of recovering stronger than you were before, essentially making you able to get stronger with substance every time we lift.




 “Fight Gone Bad”

3 Rounds, 1:00 each movement
Wall Ball 20/14
Sumo DL High Pull 75/55
Box Jump 20”, bounding allowed
Push Press 75/55
Row (Cal)

  • Rest

This will be done in heats like a “Fran” Day. Coaches will handle scaling and working with large groups. DO NOT use only 10# plates for this or any workout. Dropping bars from OH with only 10s on it shreds the inner ring of the plate and destroys them. Plates aint cheap, papa needs to eat!



“Fight Gone Bad”

Same workout as above but using KB for SDLHP and KB Swings for Push Press


The Program

1. FBG

2. Rest

  • Use this as a day to go ABSOLUTE HAM on the workout but REST the rest of the day. DO NOT do any other lifting. The only other work allowed is weakness/skill work. NOTHING ELSE.
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