There is a lot of science – and exponentially more opinions out there – as to the best set/reps scheme to use in order to build strength. And as I’ve said, I’ve used them all both in my workouts and in the workouts of my clients and sports teams.
Recently I’ve done a lot of work using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 reps scheme and have found it to be a challenging and effective strategy for building strength. The first time using this program start with the weight that would be used for a typical set of 5 and increase 10-20 pounds with each set. Until you get used to this routine be conservative with weight increases. After performing this program two or three times be aggressive with weight increases depending on how you feel.
Other set/rep schemes can be used to build strength, and should be used. The worst thing is to routinely follow a routine. Constantly working in the three or five repetition range with the same amount of sets reduces the effectiveness of the workout and can cause you to experience the dreaded plateau. And the same holds true for the 5 through 1 rep scheme.
The key to success for any workout program is to constantly manipulate the variables; sets, repetitions, volume, intensity, rest periods, etc. Using the descending repetition/increasing weight scheme in conjunction with the other traditional sets/reps schemes will add variety to workouts, help to increase strength and ultimately improve your fitness level.