IAFSTORE blog Workouts

How to set up a ceiling session

How to set up a ceiling session

by in IAFSTORE blog - Workouts

last updated: November 11, 2016

  english change italiano english français español

Let's look at the basic concepts of ceilings and how to structure a session for ceilings, to break a deadlock in your progress

We've talked about microcycles and mesocycle, now in our well planned macrocycle, we can and must insert on about those all-important ceilings.

Wow! Ceilings are in!, We can see it all now, all these Gurus and know-it-alls and preparers soaked sheets with their strange names and strange exercises - you eventually forget what you really need is a guy whose approach to being a Personal trainer is to create a work route to build a solid muscle structure.

In this case, the eight microcycles training schedule that we discussed previously, which dealt with both strength and hypertrophy.

Emanuele Zanetti, ceiling load



The Volume is the total amount of work done in one training session, then there is the Series, which is the number of repetitions, grouped according to various criteria, and separated by a recovery period which is variable.


Repetitions, the number of times you have to repeat a given exercise.


Intensity will always be something that we first have to create with our mental attitude, and then, with the same program, all of the listed variables can be introduced to create intensity.

Maximum load

Finally, we end up with Ceiling Load, which is the maximum load that can be lifted once, without any external help.

It is the highest force that the neuromuscular system can exert by voluntary contraction, the concept of 1 RM.

This simple phrase has been written about again and again in books by the greatest technicians in the game.

The maximum to use to break the deadlock

Using a maximal program has additional functions, the primary one being recovery from a deadlock that occasionally, after months and months of routine exercises and repetitions, means we feel we're not progressing any further.

Here, by falling back on ceilings, this type of training can definitely make us escape from this deadlock.

It's also true there are different training modes, like supersets, stripping, rest-pauses, and so on (which is certainly important to know), which lead to new adaptations, through which a muscle will grow to compensate for the new stimulus intensity and a flow rate that is higher than it was previously; however, the increased recruitment of motor units, which is a key factor in growth, is obtained mainly by stresses induced by heavy loads close to the maximum, like it is in strength training.

Workout treated in previous articles.

But the workouts mentioned above will be treated in more detail in my next articles.

Returning to the Ceiling System workout, however, can be a double-edged sword, in that, being based on a massive neuronal component, it can be tiring for the Central Nervous System (CNS).

So it should be organised, and handled well.

Don't abuse it, because the body is really stressed, and at that point you can raise your blood pressure due to the Valsalva maneuover (exhaling against a closed glottis).

Then there's overtraining, an ugly beast that appears and causes extreme physical fatigue.

How to calculate your ceiling

But let's see in practice, how to create and maintain everything.

There are two ways to calculate your ceiling, one direct and one indirect.

The direct method involves a series of tests leading to a calculation of the maximum load an athlete is able to lift. This is called a ceiling test, and leads the individual to a level of intensity where fatigue prevents any further increase to the load.


  • 1st series of 10 repetitions at 40% of the permissible limit
  • 2nd series of 5-6 repetitions at 50-60% of the permissible limit
  • 3rd series of 2-3 repetitions at 80% of the permissible limit
  • 4th series of 1 repetition at 90% of the permissible limit
  • 5th series of 1 repetition at 100% of the permissible limit

- If you can: increase the resistance between 2.5 and 5% to retest

or - if it failed: decrease the resistance by 2.5 to 5% and try again


NB: The rest between series should be complete, and no less than 3 minutes.

The 1-RM value is reported as the weight of the last successfully completed lift.


This test, which is very good for advanced athletes, is absolutely not recommended for beginners.

It is fine after the course we undertook using the forces in the previous table.

And that is after a rest of one or more days to allow the muscles to recover from the fatigue of the previous workouts.

Later, we'll discuss the indirect method and its Protocol, and of course, all of the exercises in its approach.

It goes without saying, that this type of session has a protocol with well-defined exercises, which are called basic or multi-joint exercises.

But all that will be covered in the next article.

Continue to follow me, love me, criticise me but please read me.

Your Lele MrPersonal.

Suggested articles:

Back giant set workout

A giant set workout for back muscles, with a combination of exercises in Doc. Trapani style and some intensity techniques read article

Arms Workout: biceps triple set and triceps giant set

An arms workout that includes a triple set for biceps and a giant set for triceps training: focus on high intensity and execution techniques. read article

Lagging muscles: seek for the Holy Grail or... go back to school?

Even though we may make a concerted effort in our sweaty workouts, we all have certain muscle groups that are more resistant and difficult in… read article