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The ‘3 sets of 10’ Method

Leading fitness advisor Eleni Constantinou reveals everything you need to know about the 3 sets of 10 method. Start your fitness journey with Eleni today.


Are you someone who goes to the gym and performs three sets of ten on about six different exercises? While you may have been told that this is the best way to go, it’s not always that straightforward.

Your program design is imperative to your progress, and as a fitness advisor, I pride myself on creating bespoke programs for my clients, based on their specific needs.

What is considered when putting together a workout?

When putting together a workout, you must first decide what qualities are being trained in that mesocycle, i.e. hypertrophy, absolute strength, or anatomical adaption.

When the qualities have been chosen, you can then decide on the following factors:

  1. You determine the intensity needed based on the qualities you are going to train

  2. You then use the chosen intensity to determine your reps

  3. Your reps determine the sets you do

  4. Your sets will then dictate the number of exercises per body part

  5. Finally, the number of exercises dictate the type of exercises you do

The limitations of the 3 sets of 10 approach

The problem (in my opinion) with ‘3 sets of 10’ for everything is that not all exercises require the same emphasis.

For example, a squat movement is more functional and uses more muscle mass, burns more calories and creates a higher anabolic response as opposed to leg extensions.

So the ‘3 sets of 10 approach’ does not take this into account.

Not all body parts require the same volume

Now let’s talk about volume. Not all body parts require the same amount of volume.

For example, your biceps are a small muscle group, so they wouldn’t need as many exercises, sets, or reps as your back.

Also, smaller muscle groups like your biceps are used as secondary muscles when performing other exercise, such as pull ups.

So if you’re using the ‘3 sets of 10’ method on these smaller muscle groups, you’re now training your biceps for example twice as much will ultimately result in overtraining.

This is why many people find their arm development take off when they cut back or even stop training arms completely and concentrate on basic pulling and pushing movements (my biceps for example - I don’t train them specifically!)

Is 3 sets of 10 right for you?

If you designed your last workout using the ‘3 sets of 10’ method, please look over your program and see if it truly seems logical.

Do you have the same number of exercises for each body part? Does every exercise get the same emphasis? If so then it's time to take your understanding of the principles behind the design of a strength training program to the next level.

If you have any more questions, drop me a message or a comment and I will get back to you!

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