The Waterbury 10 x 3 Method

As I’ve already discussed on numerous occasions, total training volume is paramount when it comes to maximizing muscle growth.

This is generally why bodybuilders prioritize higher rep ranges, since this allows for a faster accumulation of volume in a training session.

While this practice may not be optimal for strength gains, it is clearly the most efficient way to gain muscle mass.

But what if there was a training program that combined high volume training with heavy weights to ensure both excellent muscle growth along with very nice gains in strength?

Could such a program really exist?

Enter: The 10 x 3 Training Program.

The 10 x 3 program is exactly what it looks like; you pick a compound movement that you want to make the focus of your body part, you then pick a weight that is about 85% of your 1 rep max, and you proceed to do 10 sets of 3 reps with that weight.

10 x 3 is a training program popularized by one of my all-time favourite fitness coaches, Chad Waterbury.

What I like about Waterbury is his willingness to go against the grain, to challenge convention and what is deemed ‘accepted’ in today’s fitness industry.

And that is exactly what 10 x 3 is all about: challenging convention.

 

What Sets 10 x 3 Apart

Obviously the largest benefit of 10 x 3 training is how it beautifully mixes together optimal training volume with very high poundage’s to ensure both muscle growth and strength gains simultaneously.

Since this program allows you to use between 80 and 85% of your 1RM, this essentially puts you in the best range of intensity for maximizing strength gains, given that you are an experienced lifter (study).

The other aspect of 10 x 3 that I love is the volume.

What most people tend to forget is that while you are only performing sets of 3 reps, you are still moving  more total weight than you would be if you had performed 3 sets of 10.

Since you will be able to move more weight doing sets of 3 than you could do with sets of 10, then obviously this program will allow you to accumulate more ‘volume load’ than doing 3 sets of 10 would allow.

This is why on top of being great for gaining strength, the 10 x 3 method is a great choice for gaining size.

This is what makes this program different from most others; the versatility that it provides allows it to essentially cover all of the bases, regardless of what your strength training goal is.

 

How to Incorporate 10 x 3

Similar to German Volume Training, you’re going to want to pick one exercise to make the focus of your body part that you’re training.

As always, your focuses should include: weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, bench press, squats, deadlifts, or barbell rows.

Therefore, a typical chest workout could look something like this:

Bench press: 10 x 3

Incline press: 3 x 8

Dips: 3 x 8

 

If you’re training back, a typical workout using 10 x 3 would look like this:

Deadlifts: 10 x 3

Weighted Pull-ups: 3 x 8

Barbell Rows: 3 x 8

 

Of course the way you format your workouts is completely up to you, just as long you use a heavy compound movement for your staple exercise (it should go without saying that you should use squats as your primary leg exercise for 10 x 3).

 

Conclusion

So just what can you expect when implementing the 10 x 3 training program?

Well for one, you can expect to see great gains in strength, size, and overall power.

I myself have utilized this training method to increase my weighted dips from 100 pounds for reps to over 200 additional pounds in less than half a year.

While I was primarily concerned with getting stronger at the time, what stunned me was how much bigger my shoulders and triceps became even from using such low rep ranges (this was before I knew that all rep ranges are equal for muscle growth).

Therefore, if you find yourself at a plateau in your training program and you want to try something new, I would definitely recommend 10 x 3.

See you next time.

 

Comments

  1. Adam Frith says:

    Hi, I love your blog. I just wanted to ask, what is the optimal recovery between sets for the 10×3 method?

    Thanks mate,

    Adam

    • Thanks, I appreciate it. And I actually cover this topic in detail in the book, but to make it brief, rest periods between sets are irrelevant for muscle growth. It’s actually better to rest longer in order for your body to fully recover, thus allowing it to push harder each set. I personally find a good range to be 2 – 3 minutes.

      • Adam Frith says:

        Would you still see decent gains if all you done each session was 10×3 with no accessory work?