I like to make things as easy as possible. When my clients start a workout I usually have a set number of reps that I want them to perform with a given load. I use many different approaches to help them reach the select number of reps, but in the end, it doesn't really matter how they get to the goal, as long as they do.

Three of the most effective set/rep ranges I've ever used for building size and strength are four sets of six (4x6), 5x5 and 8x3. Those parameters have two things in common.

  1. The total number of reps is basically the same.
  2. The load is basically the same.

It's evident to me that the aforementioned combination of sets and reps really hits a sweet spot with many people. There's no need to argue whether 6x4 is better than 8x3 because both methods are providing the same effect. Indeed, virtually everyone I've worked with has achieved great results with approximately 25 reps paired with a heavy load.

So it only makes sense to design a training plan around these parameters. The good news is that it's super easy. Here's how you do it.

  1. Choose an exercise with a heavy load (a load you could lift for 4-6 reps before failure).
  2. Perform one set as fast as possible and terminate the set once the speed slows down.
  3. Rest 60s
  4. Repeat Step #2 until you've reached 25 reps.

It really is that simple!

The 25 Method can be used in a number of ways. You can use it for strength or hypertrophy. Here are two different programs that utilize this principle for each training goal.

25 for Strength

When training for maximal strength, I like to limit the total exercises to three. All three exercises are compound movements and each workout trains a push, pull, and hip or quad dominant movement.

Here's an excellent plan to boost your total body strength. (Remember, do 25 reps of each, using whatever set/rep scheme that suits you.)

Day 1

Power clean
Dumbbell bench press
Seated cable row

Day 2 (48 hours later)

Overhead squat

Day 3 (48 hours later)

Decline barbell bench press
Wide grip pull-up

Photo by Irv Gelb

25 for Hypertrophy

When total body hypertrophy is the goal, I'll add in a few exercises to train the muscle groups that most bodybuilders want to develop. Like the strength plan, each workout trains a push, pull and hip or quad dominant movement. In addition, I also throw in a few supplemental exercises.

Below is a kick ass hypertrophy plan. Again, remember that you're shooting for a total of 25 reps per movement.

Day 1

Standing calf raise (rest 30s between sets)

Day 2 (48 hours later)

Front squat
Bench press
Reverse curl (rest 30s between sets)
Overhead triceps extension (rest 30s between sets)

Day 3 (48 hours later)

Back squat
Incline bench press
Wide grip pull-up
Skull crusher (rest 30s between sets)
Seated calf raise (rest 30s between sets)


Give these workouts a try for three weeks and I'm sure you'll get bigger and stronger. Feel free to experiment with the 25 Method because it works awesome!