Rapid Wave Sets for Size and Strength

Tis’ bulking season for most trainees and that means a constant search for methods of stimulating new muscle growth for strength and size. Today’s post is just that, and at no better time than a week before the Christmas Feast gainz.

What you Need to Know:

-Wave Sets are easily manipulated for whatever goal you have.

-Rapid Wave Sets with controlled rest periods are a great way to put on some size while still working towards your strength goals by capitalizing on PAP.

-Rapid Wave Sets are a great way to break plateaus for experienced lifters who no longer respond to traditional rep schemes.

-For optimum mass gain, you need high volume at a relatively high intensity with limited rest, which is something you can achieve when manipulating the waves correctly.

How they work:

A Rapid Wave Set is typically used for your main strength movement. The, “wave” indicates that there will be a high and low number of reps done depending on the set and as you guessed, rapid wave sets indicate that those numbers have a fairly steep jump/drop.

By first doing lower reps at a higher intensity it ramps up your CNS to elicit more high-threshold motor units for subsequent sets due to a potentiation affect. By doing a heavy double and then following up with a set of 6, you are recruiting more fibers than if you had just started with the set of 6. This allows you to hit a higher weight for the higher-volumed set than you usually would get.

Through manipulating the rest periods between sets, you can help to elicit more of the training effect you want. For those of you looking to put on some meat, lowering the rest between the heavy double and the set of 6 to about 30-45 seconds may be optimal. I’d also suggest keeping the rest between the set of 6 and the doubles to 90-120 seconds. So in short, an example for an experienced trainee who is looking to put on some muscle may look like this:

2 @ 85%

:30 rest

6@ 75%

:90 rest

2 @ 87.5%

:30 rest

6 @ 77.5%

:90 rest

2 @ 87.5%

:30 rest

6 @ 77.5-80%

The heavy set is mainly there to help improve the volume set and thus does not need a lot of rest. Keeping the rest to 90 seconds between waves and 30 seconds between low and high volume bouts should help to provide a large amount of work in a short time period without sacrificing much else. Of course you can choose different rest for different rep scheme choices, but the ultimate goal is to capitalize on the PAP with minimal affects from fatigue. Typically this type of effect is used for improving rate of force development within athletes, but as I said before, this article is looking more into its use for putting on mass. By capitalizing on window 1 below, we prime the PAP, but rather than using the hightened state for overall force development, we use it more for its affects on power endurance. By doing so, we are able to recruit more motor units(primarily of our fast twitch fibers, which have more potential for growth) to be stressed in the subsequent higher rep scheme that they would not normally be present in. This gives a rare time-under-tension stimulus for these motor units that yields a huge potential for growth.

You’ll also notice how the percentages increase steadily, but the heavy sets start to level off. That’s because for the desired training stimulus, there is no reason to go heavier on the doubles. You actually run the risk of over-exerting yourself and pulling away from the sets of 6(which are going to be fairly hard). So even though the amount of weight being lifted SHOULD be higher, the RPE(rate of perceived exertion) should remain somewhere between a 7 and 8(moves with good speed but still feels heavy) while the higher sets are closer to 9. I use the percentages above just as an example, in reality since this method relies heavily upon an immediate response of the CNS, it's much more appropriate to go off of RPE and feel. Some days you will respond much more positively than others. After the first wave you will have an accurate idea of how much you can increase you volume sets.

Give these a try on your next program, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Just keep in mind what movements may or may not be appropriate for it. I mainly use it when programming for the big 3, but have even had success when using them for pullups. Also remember that this method can be very taxing to the system, so be mindful of when to deload. Enjoy!