If you haven’t been adding Century Sets into your routine, it’s about time you did. This idea (which has been around for decades) could literally change your gains.
So what exactly are Century Sets, you ask. Simply put, sets of 100 reps. That’s right, 100 repetitions of one specific exercise. And whether that is 100 straight reps, or 4 sets of 25 reps; the goal is to do as many reps with as minimal sets as possible.
The purpose of Century Sets is to stimulate maximum hypertrophy responses. Lifting weights is the most common way to increase muscle hypertrophy or growth. However, many of us either aren’t lifting heavy enough or, over time, become lackadaisical in our training (or stuck in a rut). Hitting a plateau as a lifter can be detrimental to our gains and overall training. But, adding Century Sets into your regime can shock your system to stimulate muscle growth. Let me explain.
Each muscle has within it three types of fibers: slow twitch, intermediate, and fast twitch or ballistic. Each fiber type responds differently to training in relation to how they fatigue and where they use energy. There are a variety of rep ranges and different levels of fatigue within each muscle fiber. For instance, slow twitch fibers usually reach concentric momentary muscular failure somewhere between 12 to 25 reps. Intermediate fibers hit momentary muscle failure between 10 and 15 reps. The ballistic fibers (the power fibers) usually reach maximum stimulation at 6 to 12 reps. These three fibers normally don’t work together during training. Once you hit failure with a muscle fiber, the next fiber kicks in to give you the power you need to hit failure of the next fiber.
In order to make progress you must train with intensity. When you add in the Century Sets to your training program it, as stated earlier, shocks the system and stimulates all the muscle fibers unilaterally so that you are getting 100% of muscle fiber utilization during a single set.
During your 100 set you reach concentric momentary muscle failure of each fiber group. When you hit failure at 15-20 reps your explosive fibers kick in; when that happens, take 5 seconds to rest, reset, and replenish a little glycogen into your muscles. When you’re fatiguing, you can also use this time to increase or decrease your relative load if necessary. After that 5 or 10 second rest, get right back to your training and continue to your maximum rep. Although your slow twitch and intermediate fibers have fatigued, they are still working with your explosive fibers to help your reach 100% utilization.
To build muscle, you must build the optimal hormonal environment within your muscles. Not lifting to failure will not help you reach those maximum gains you are seeking. Adversely, if you are lifting heavy but for shorter sets (10-12) and not fatiguing your muscles, you could likely be putting too much stress on your joints and overtraining the nervous system instead.
The training program for Century Sets should be frequent, choosing just a few exercises for each set, and performing several times a week, at minimum. The pump you’ll get from your sets will be insane and your muscles will gleam for about 20 minutes post-workout.