When I was younger, I’ll admit that I used to think strength training was nothing more then 3 sets of 10 or 4 sets of 8…

That’s changed a bit overtime…

Now I see most strength training as being 10-15 total reps.

While those rep and set schemes I mentioned above work great for other things, it’s not always about straight sets and reps.

If you want to get STRONGER, this is something you’ll want to start looking into a bit more.

In other words, start focusing on High Quality Strength work.

Endless amounts of circuits, intervals, and long conditioning sessions will NOT get you strong.

Those will help promote fat loss, build endurance as well as help assist with your main strength work, but as I’ve written in past posts, overall STRENGTH is what’s the most important.

STRENGTH serves as the basis to everything else.

So, what’s High Quality Strength?

Well, it’s really nothing new other then a cool way to refer to highly focused strength work.

While chatting with a buddy of mine, Jason Maxwell on Skype the other day, we got into talking about “The Power of 10” and it’s role in strength training.

This concept was brought to light by the great Dan John.

In short, Dan has referred to using the “Rule of 10”  with 3 different main lifts – Deadlifts, Snatches, and Cleans and in order to get the most from each of these three movements, what you would want to shoot for is to hit no more then 10 quality reps within a workout for each one of those movement.

There’s a ton more detail that Dan goes into in regards to the “Rule of 10”, but that’s the main jist of it – Get 10 HIGH QUALITY STRENGTH reps.

What I’ve done over the past is take the idea of that concept and have applied it towards my own modifications of building up more strength.

Basically the concept is simple.

Do 10-15 HIGH QUALITY REPS for your main strength movements.

This is something I’ve been implementing into my programs (and my Elite Coaching Clients programs) for a while now and I wanted to share with you how I’ve been personally setting things up.

This stuff has been working like magic to build up strength.

High Quality Strength Movement Selection and Guidelines

-the movements you’ll use for HQS will typically be your first 1-2 movements within your session = These movements are solely devoted to STRENGTH or STRENGTH/ POWER movements

-movements typically include – snatch variations, clean variations, squat variations, overhead presses and jerks, and bench press.

-For loading you’ll typically use anywhere from 85-100% of your 1 rep max or your BEST for that day.

***A key note to think about is that you’ll not always be the same day in and day out as some days you have it and some days you don’t.  For example, sometimes my 75% max weight feels like my 100% max weight on certain lifts 😉

Bodyweight High Quality Strength Modifications

If you’re weak at some of the more skilled bodyweight movements such as strict HSPU’s, Ring HSPU’s, strict muscle ups, or pistol squats, you can use those movements with this set up as well.

If you’re pretty efficient at these movements already, you’ll get more milage out of using weighted variations instead.

Training Session Guidelines

For set up, instead of prescribing a certain set and rep scheme, I’ll focus on hitting 10-15 HQS reps TOTAL for that given movement.

Lately I’ve been hitting a ton of 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s, so depending on what I’m hitting for reps, that’s how I set up my sets.

Built up Sets = These DO NOT mean Work Sets – For these you’ll simply “grease the groove” by hitting sub-maximal loads.  Nothing crazy here.  You’re just warming up.

Once you build up to your HEAVY work sets = This is when your Quality Strength Work starts, so make sure that every rep after that point counts.

Once you get yourself to 10-15 HIGH QUALITY reps, you’re done.

You can get to these reps in many different ways…

2 sets of 5

5 sets of 2 OR 3

6 sets of 2

10 sets of 1

Or you can even vary the way you hit reps and sets as I do with strength intervals as I show below…

Here’s an example set up of what I did for my front squats the past few weeks.

Week 1 – Take 10-15 Mins to workup to a HEAVY 3 reps on front squats.

Build Ups:

135 x 3

185 x 3

225 x 3

245 x 3

275 x 3

300 E.M.O.T.M. x 3 x 5 Mins = 15 Total High Quality Strength Reps @ 85% 1RM

Week 2 – I again took 15 mins to build up to a HEAVY 2 rep set of 315 and did 2 reps every 45 secs x 6 mins = 14 total reps @ 90% 1RM

Week 3 – I took 15 mins to build up to a HEAVY 1 rep set of 325 and did 1 rep every 30 secs x 5 mins = 10 total reps @ 95% 1RM

Depending on YOUR strength and conditioning levels, it may take you a bit longer to build up to your 3, 2, or 1 rep sets.  Go at your pace.

What about REST time between sets?

The rest periods I used can vary depending on YOU and your goal.  A lot of trainees will not be able to train near maximal efforts with that little of rest as it takes time to build up to that level.

I know most books say to rest at least 2-3 mins between maximal efforts, but I like to go against “the books”.

Along with this, I’m trying to increase not only my overall strength, but my strength endurance as well so training heavy with shorter breaks is critical.

The better I am with handling heavy loads with little to no rest, the better 😉

This ties into what I talked about in my last post with that of “Anytime Strength”.

But, what about YOU?

If you’re still building yourself up, go ahead and take longer rest periods between sets.

Bottom Line, get a total of 10-15 High Quality Strength reps in and you’ll be good to go.

Do You Have to do Straight Sets?


Remember it’s not always about sets and reps.

For example, if my goal is to get in 10-15 High Quality Reps, then I might take an approach such as hitting a few sets at 3, a few at 2, then finish out with 2-3 sets of some 1’s.

Just depends on how I’m feeling that day.

Other Keys Notes

-It isn’t called “High Quality Strength” training for nothing.  If your form turns south and gets bad, you’re done.  Form has to stay tight!

-If you do end up getting a bit off with your form, just LOWER the weight.  It’s better to go lighter with SOLID form then to go heavier with sh*tty form.  That’s what QUALITY is all about.

So, in your next session or for the next few weeks for that matter, focus on getting in HIGH QUALITY reps for STRENGTH.

Pick one or two movements a session to use and get yourself 10-15 High Quality Strength Reps for each one.

Live and Train Aggressive!