calisthenics method

Set x Rep + 1xmax method in calisthenics

In this article we will go to see one of my favorite methodologies for training in calisthenics . With the words “SET X REP + 1 X MAX” we mean a scheme in which you will have a fixed base of work, given by series and repetitions predefined (5 x 2/5 x 5/4 x 3, etc.), more a final series in which it will break down, generally the failure will be technical.

In this way we will make sure to make a fixed volume of work , with the addition of a mini test that will monitor any improvements, without going to make the training too stressful. It will certainly not be a series at best to overload the central nervous system, but rather, will also give a variation of stimuli compared to series and fixed repetitions.

Normally we use linear progressions, ie progressions of this type:

  • week 1 = 5 x 3,
  • week 2 = 6 x 3,
  • week 3 = 4 x 4

If at an ideal level calisthenics can be good, especially if well planned (i.e being far from the ceiling, so that the progression is sustainable), not always a fixed progression can be the optimal solution over time: we could, in a day in which is particularly discharged for the most different reasons, going to fail the progression that was set. It is here that a methodology of this type gives the best of itself, having “easy” volume to be carried out, taking into account the progression based on the final test series. In this way, even at a mental level, we will be more relaxed than a linear progression, which requires us to improve, regardless of external factors.

The program consists in giving an objective in the test, which, once achieved, triggers the progressions in the volume (series x repetitions) or in intensity. The final ceiling will tell us if the week after we are ready to progress or if we have to stabilize because we are still too close to our limit.

The methods with which this method can be performed are many and all valid, depending on the exercise, the level and obviously the rest of the training.

Calisthenics training program

Let’s see some practical examples of calisthenics:

  1. Ballasted traction – 5 x 2 + 1 x max.
    Every time the 1 x max is at least 3 repetitions more, compared to the first 5 series, the next time the ballast is increased by 2.5 kg. I leave with 10 kg and close 5 x 2 + 1 x 5 or more and the week after delivery with 12.5 kg, on the contrary I keep the weight of 10 kg stable. This mode I use it often for tractions and dip ballast and I find it very good to connect it to classic programming where maybe it goes to a standstill.
    A practical example within a schedule on more than one mesocycle, is to run a 5 x 5 with X kg in the first month (fixed, without increasing), and in the second month start with the same weight, doing 5 x 2 1 x max. The buffer with which you will do 2 repetitions will initially be large (since you have already closed a 5 x 5), but this will allow us to move from a volume workout to a workout with increasing intensity, as well as change stimulus.
  1. Elevations of straddle planes – 10 x 2 + 1 x max.
    If the technical ceiling is at least one more repetition than the classic series, from the following time, lower the series and increase the number of repetitions (8 x 3 + 1 x technical max). You can choose, as always according to the other exercises, whether to continue the progression every time after the technical max with the same rule (6 x 4 + 1 x max technical / 4 x 5 + 1 x max technician) or decide to stabilize the series and repetitions. The recovery can be kept constant in the first series and perhaps increase it before the final technical ceiling. On such a high volume it is generally recommended to be at least 2 minutes but can then vary according to the chosen work intensity.
  2. Basic exercises free body : This method can be safely used also to grind free body volume, whether you are at the beginning, or you are more experienced: For example, with a tested maximum of tens of 10 repetitions, we can make a 5 × 4 + 1xMax and go to increase every time we can double the repetitions of the series. In this case, I recommend starting using reference repetitions just under 50% of the ceiling, in order to have a constant progression the first few times you will face the program.


As we have seen Calisthenics is a very useful method in ballasted exercises but it can also be used very well in exercises where progression is not the load but the change of series and repetitions. I have made some examples from which to take a cue but then everything must be adapted and contextualized.
If you do not have the technique in an exercise you do not have to try to necessarily reach the number of repetitions we have set ourselves to trigger a progression (which progression is not, in that case), but the program remains unchanged.

In the examples I have not mentioned it but the technical max does not have to be done with the same technique as the previous repetitions, but it can be set with “max repetitions with stop” at a specific critical point (like the down stop or 90 ° in the dip ) or in any variant that can bring benefits.

Remember: the ‘training has the key points but it is not an exact science, and any customization, with a logic, it may be correct !

See Another Article: Poor arms: how to behave

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