top of page
  • Thomas Sobotor


What Are Back Off Sets?

Back Off Sets are a strategic approach to strength training that involve working up to a max effort set followed by lighter sets with a reduced load. The concept is simple yet powerful. Instead of constantly pushing maximal effort, Back Off Sets allow you to reduce the weight after your heaviest (max) set. This allows you to continue training with intensity while minimizing fatigue and injury risk.

How Do Back Off Sets Work?

The magic of Back Off Sets lies in their ability to strike a balance between intensity and volume. By lowering the weight after a max effort set, you are still challenging your muscles and central nervous system but while giving your body a chance to recover. This approach not only promotes better technique and movement patterns but also allows for greater cumulative volume over time, which is essential for strength gains.

Athlete using pinch grip hold for grip strength.
Pinch Grip Holds

Implementing Back Off Sets: A Sample Rep Scheme

To give you a better idea of how we will incorporate Back Off Sets in our training, here's a sample rep scheme:

  1. Set 1: 3 reps at an RPE of 3-5, rest 60-90 seconds

  2. Set 2: 3 reps at an RPE of 5-7, rest 60-90 seconds

  3. Set 3: 3 reps at an RPE of 6-8, rest 60-90 seconds

  4. Set 4: 3 reps at max effort, rest 60-90 seconds

  5. Set 5: 5 reps at 10% less than max effort set, rest 60-90 seconds

  6. Set 6: 8 reps at 10% less than the previous set, rest 60-90 seconds

This structured approach allows you to gradually increase intensity while managing fatigue and ensuring quality reps throughout your workout.

Benefits Of Back Off Sets

  1. Improved Technique: By focusing on form and execution at sub-maximal loads, Back Off Sets help solidify technique and movement patterns.

  2. Increased Volume: Back Off Sets enable you to accumulate meaningful volume at high intensity levels, driving muscle growth and strength gains.

  3. Reduced Injury Risk: By managing fatigue and allowing for adequate recovery, Back Off Sets help minimize the risk of overuse injuries and burnout, ensuring long-term progress and sustainability.

  4. Sustainable Strength Gains: Unlike constantly pushing maximal effort, Back Off Sets offer a more sustainable approach to strength training, allowing for consistent progress without compromising recovery.


By incorporating these sets, you are focusing on lifting heavy weights while also paying attention to technique, volume, and managing fatigue effectively. This approach can help in sustainable strength gains while reducing the risk of injury and overreaching.

Remember, consistency and progression are key in strength training, so stick to the plan and make adjustments as needed based on your progress and feedback from your body.



bottom of page