# The 30-second continuous set.

One of the more important factors in the development of strength lies in the athlete's ability to preform the prescribed number of repetitions in the daily, weekly, and yearly training sessions.

This is commonly referred to as volume. At Boise State, we expect our athletes to accomplish all of their required reps in succession without the aid of a spotter.

Whenever an athlete reaches a point of momentary muscular failure and cannot perform all of the reps in the set, he is not excused. Our 30-second continuous set" plan goes into effect. The athlete is given a 30-second rest and then asked to complete the set through forced, or negative, reps (without a spotter).

This procedure is continued until the athlete has completed every rep on his own.

HOW IT WORKS

Let us assume that the athlete has a one-rep maximum (1RM) of 300 lbs. in the bench press -- a variation of our descending pyramid cycle.

The athlete's goal in the first set is to perform 8 reps at 76% of his 1RM, which is 230 lbs. He achieves all 8 reps in succession and records this in the "Reps Achieved" column in the accompanying table.

The athlete's goal in the second set is to perform 10 reps at 70% of his 1RM, which is 210 lbs. He achieves all 10 reps in succession and records this in the "Reps Achieved" column in the table.

The athlete's goal in the third set is to perform 10 reps at 64% of his base 1RM, which is 190 lbs. The athlete performs 8 reps in succession and then reaches momentary muscular failure.

The spotter helps return the bar to the racks and then proceeds to watch the clock for 30 seconds, during which time the athlete prepares mentally and physically to complete the final 2 reps of the set.

The spotter will alert the athlete at the 20-second mark to enable him to position himself under the bar. At 30 seconds, the athlete attempts to complete the remaining 2 reps.

As you can see, the athlete utilized one 30-second continuation set to fulfill his goal reps for the set. He records this in the "Rep-Achieved" column (in the table) by writing the first number of reps completed 18) followed by the plus sign and then the second number (2)of reps completed after the 30-second rest.

In the final set of the day for the bench press, the athlete's goal is to perform 12 reps at 58% of his 1RM, which is 175 lbs. The athlete reaches 8 reps in succession, then reaches momentary muscular failure.

As before, the spotter helps return the bar to the racks and then proceeds to watch the clock for 30 seconds, as the athlete is preparing mentally and physically to complete the final 4 reps of the set.

The spotter alerts the athlete with 10 seconds left, so that he may position himself under the bar. At 30 seconds, the athlete attempts to complete the remaining reps.

This time he achieves only 2 reps. The spotter helps return the bar to the racks and a 30-second continuation set is utilized. The athlete now has had to perform 3 continuation sets to reach the goal reps. He records this in the "Reps-Achieved" column.

Any time the athlete is unable to perform any more reps after a particular continuation set, he must follow the plus sign with a zero (8+0).

The 30-second continuation set is obviously designed to increase the athlete's work volume and work load during each training session.

We believe that the athlete will gain more from performing as many reps as he can on his own than by quitting after reaching momentary muscular failure or utilizing a spotter to help him complete the set.

In the aforementioned training session (on the bench press), the exercise volume was 47 reps, including the warm-up sets. If the 30-second continuation set hadn't been utilized, the athlete would have performed 41 reps without the aid of a spotter.

By implementing the continuation set, the athlete was able to perform all 47 reps, increasing his volume and work load for the exercise.

At Boise State, our improvement from one evaluation period to another has increased since we made our athletes complete more work on their own.

Our athletes do an excellent job of tracking their reps for each set, enabling our strength coaches to evaluate each training cycle and make necessary adjustments whenever most of the athletes miss a certain weekly cycle.

We believe it is more important for athletes to perform their work on their own than to have spotters assist them and induce a false sense of strength gain.