The 25-Rep Rule

Strip away the excess and focus on the fundamentals with this simple method

One of the biggest misconceptions about weight training is that it is complicated. With all of the fad programs, trendy set-rep schemes and fancy resistance machines out there, pumping iron has been blown into an intricate and confusing practice. There’s so much competing information that it’s difficult to piece together a cohesive and effective program. Is weight training hard? You bet your ass, but it’s also straightforward. Often the biggest obstacle preventing guys from reaching their goals is the complexity of their program. Whether you’re new to lifting and your goal is to establish a solid foundation of 10 or 15 pounds of muscle, or you’ve been in the game awhile and are experiencing plateaus, simplicity is key. Stripping away the excess and focusing on the fundamentals could propel you to where you want to be.

De-clutter Your Workout With the 25-Rep Rule
Developed by heralded underground strength coach C.J. Murphy, this simple method can lead to serious gains. The directions are as follows:

Pick a single exercise, preferably a heavy compound lift such as the deadlift, bench press or squat, and complete 25 total repetitions. The 25 repetitions should be divided into several small sets in the range of 3 to 8 (25 is hard to divide evenly, so with some of the set groupings the total is 24 or 26). A good example would be 5 sets of 5 repetitions, or 4 of 6. The weight used for these sets should be heavy but manageable, and you should be able to complete each set feeling like you could squeeze out one more rep. Use reasonable rest periods between sets (30 to 90 seconds) and focus on form and explosiveness to get the most out of every repetition. This type of breakdown is ideal because it involves both heavy weight and high volume, geared towards simultaneous strength gain and muscle growth. No frills, no gimmicks.

A few variations can be used with the 25-Rep Rule. The first is an ascending/descending progression where weight is increased while repetitions decrease. For instance, your first week using the 25-Rep Rule you may perform 5 sets of 5 reps. The next week, increase the weight and perform 6 sets of 4, the next, at an even higher weight, 8 sets of 3. This is a dynamic method of loading that maximizes the weight/volume benefits of the 25-Rep Rule for optimal strength gains.

A similar progression, utilizing the pyramid technique, divides the repetitions into 5 sets that begin with low reps, work to higher reps in the middle, then drop back down. This workout would start with a set of 4 repetitions, increase to 5 in the second, 6 in the third, back down to 5 in the fourth and 4 in the fifth for a total of 24 (4,5,6,5,4). This pattern is another great way of increasing size and strength by systematically loading your muscles.

To really confuse your muscles, a wave pattern can be used for the 25-Rep Rule. With this progression, you begin with higher reps and lower weight for the first set, increase weight and decrease reps with the second set, then repeat. For example, begin with 8 reps at a lighter weight for your first set, throw on 10 pounds for a second set of 4, drop back down in weight for a second set of 8 in the third, and then back up for a final round of 4 (8,4,8,4).

If you can count, you’ve got it. Follow the 25-rep rule and find our how subtracting from your workout can really add up.

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