Your Sets Can Ruin Your Reps

There was an interesting video I watched a while back from professional trainer Jeff Cavaliere. He discusses the limitations in mindset around the common “3 sets of 12” paradigm around workouts.

His criticism comes not from the ineffectiveness of the structure, but what it incentivizes us to do. Particularly, our knowledge of future repetition of the same exercise forces us to limit our effort in the current set. Because we wonder to ourselves, “Well if I go all out now, how can I finish the rest of my sets?”

But that misses the point. You’re not working out to complete sets. You’re working out to push yourself to failure and grow. You don’t need to do 3 sets of anything to do that. But in order to complete 3 sets, we make the first two half-effort so we can do the third. But what was the point of the doing three sets when the first two are meaningless then?

Jeff argues that each set should be pushed to failure. Each rep should be made to count. Even if it means lower weights the next time around. It’s the only way to make them count.

And if we have to do the same in our work. We can’t look at our difficult future as an indicator to give low effort now. Because what’s the point then? What are we putting into our work that goes above and beyond if we conserve our talent for our projected future?

What matters is what you put in now. The question is, are you willing to go all in each moment? Or would you prefer to play it safe for the possibility that the future gets tough?

Your call.

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