High-Set Singles for Massive Strength and Size Gains
Probably the most popular form of low-rep training among many "old-time" bodybuilders, high-set singles are highly effective at making a muscle neurally stronger.
I believe that one of the best ways to incorporate high-set singles is with a method made popular by the great Doug Hepburn. It works something like this: On your lift of the day, start off with a weight in which you absolutely know that you can get at least three singles. (Remember, it's better to start off too light than too heavy.) Make sure you warm up sufficiently for the lift using very low reps. After about a five minute rest after warm-ups, go directly into the singles. Perform a single, rest five minutes, and then perform another single. If you manage to get eight singles, then stop the lift and add two and a half to five pounds at your next workout and start all over again.
If your goal is simply to be stronger, then stop the workout at this point. If you're after muscle mass to go along with the strength, then rest five minutes and perform three to four sets of three to five reps, with minimal rest in between these sets.
Below is an example workout that you could use that incorporates this approach to training.
Day One: Chest, Arms
Bench Press- 3 to 8 sets of 1 repetition, followed by 3 sets of 3 reps. Utilize the method described above.
Incline Dumbbell Press- 5 sets of 3 reps.
Barbell Curls- 3 to 8 sets of 1 repetition. Utilize the same technique as with the bench presses but eliminate the triples.
Close-grip Rack Lockouts- 3 to 8 sets of 1 repetition. This exercise will give you even more tricep involvement than regular close-grip benches, plus it takes the chest out of the movement so that you don't end up overtraining your pecs.
Day Two: Off
Day Three: Legs
Squats- 3 to 8 sets of 1 rep. Perform these the same as the first workout. Do not substitute another exercise for regular squats; they can't be beat as an overall mass-booster. Also, don't sell yourself short by doing a partial or parrallel squat. Go rock-bottom for the best benefits.
Front Squats- 5 sets of 3 reps. In order to get maximum quadricep involvement into the workout, use these instead of the regular squats for your follow-up triples.
Day Four: Back, Shoulders
Weighted Wide-Grip Chins- 3 to 8 sets of 1 rep, followed by 3 sets of 3 reps.
Close-grip Bent-over Rows- 5 sets of 3 reps. Use an underhand grip on these in order to get more lat recruitment (as opposed to mid-back) from the exercise.
Standing Military Press- 3 to 8 sets of 1 rep.
Day Five: Off
Day Six: Repeat
After four to five weeks of the above workout, if you want to try something new, then use the same workout, but stick more to an approach to high set singles made popular by Brooks Kubrik. Kubrik's method works something like this: Drop the poundages you are using by about 10% (from what you used with Hepburn's approach) and try performing 15 to 20 singles on all of the major exercises.