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Massive Iron’s Rep Goal System

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The Rep Goal System is about maximizing every set, and as a result, every workout.

It’s about efficiency, and getting the most out of your training. It’s about pushing your body to grow, and about building strength rapidly while focusing on one extra rep at a time.

This approach has been around for ages, and my take on it is surely not revolutionary. With that said, I believe the Rep Goal System to be efficient, and one of the best ways to reach your muscle and strength building goals.

The Problem with “Magazine” Workouts

Magazine workouts have been pushing lifters off course for decades. Instead of focusing you on progressive overload, which is the primary mechanism that drives gains, magazine workouts tend to ignore progression completely.

How many times have you seen something like this:

  • Bench Press – 3 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Pec Dec – 3-4 sets x 12-15 reps

This isn’t a training approach, it’s a “to do” list. It doesn’t tell you how or when to add weight, nor how hard to push each set. While some lifter’s instinctively gravitate towards maximizing progression, the 90% that don’t will wonder why this workout isn’t panning out for them.

We’ve all seem these types of forum posts: “I’m running Program X and not seeing any gains. What’s going on? Do I need a new program?” Responses usually range from “try Program B instead, it’s much better” to “body part splits don’t work for naturals, and this is proof! Go use a full body workout.”

While some of these responses may carry with them a kernel of validity, they often miss the bigger picture:

A major reason why Lifter X isn’t making optimal gains is because he isn’t maximizing progressive overload and his workouts.

In fact, I would wager that very few average gym rats have mastered the art of pushing every set for as many reps as possible. So, with that said, let’s take a deeper look at the Rep Goal System.

Rep Goal System

The Rep Goal System is simple. Here are the basics:

  • Weight – Use the same weight for each set of a given exercise.
  • Effort – Push yourself for as many reps as possible on each set, stopping that set you feel like you might fail on the next rep, or if your form starts to slip.
  • Rep Goal – Each group of sets has a ‘rep goal”, or a total number of reps you are after. You you reach, or exceed that goal, you add weight the next time you perform that exercise.

Do NOT train to failure. It’s not needed. Focus on maximizing every set – that is the real magic.

Let’s look at some examples.

Bench Press – 3 Sets, Rep Goal of 20

For this example you will be performing 3 sets of bench presses. The goal is to reach 20 total reps. Understand, this is not 20 reps per set, but 20 total reps. If you do reach this goal, you will add weight the next time in the gym.

Perhaps you are starting with 185 pounds. Your first workout goes something like this:

  • Set 1 – 185 pounds x 9 reps
  • Set 2 – 185 pounds x 7 reps
  • Set 3 – 185 pounds x 5 reps

Adding up 9, 7 and 5 reps you get a total of 21 reps. This exceeds your Rep Goal of 20, so you will move up to 190 pounds the next time you bench press.

Leg Press – 5 Sets, Rep Goal of 50

Time to build some big quads. For this example, you are chasing 50 total reps. Let’s say you start with 400 pounds on the leg press:

  • Set 1 – 400 pounds x 15 reps
  • Set 2 – 400 pounds x 12 reps
  • Set 3 – 400 pounds x 10 reps
  • Set 4 – 400 pounds x 8 reps
  • Set 5 – 400 pounds x 7 reps

This is a total of 52 reps. because you were able to reach your Rep Goal of 50, you will add weight to this exercise the next time in the gym.

Rep Goal Questions?

Questions about the rep goal system? Please leave them below.

Steve Shaw

Steve Shaw is the founder of Muscle and Brawn, and a powerlifter with 30+ years of experience. Steve's recorded a 600lb squat, 672lb deadlift and a 382lb bench press.
Steve Shaw

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