DeLorme + Oxford = Super Strength Gains


By Tim Rigby (copyright IFM Media)

Many fitness athletes, even at an advanced level, are unfamiliar with the DeLorme and Oxford Methods of training.  These two programs are referred to as progressive resistance exercises (PREs) as the amount of weight used changes within sets, but the number of repetitions per set remains the same.  In both cases specifically, sets of 10 reps are performed.  Over the last few decades, each mode has been examined scrupulously and the results have shown consistently that both are effective for increases in strength, though research does show one is slightly more effective than the other. We’ll get to that shortly.

The DeLorme Method is executed by first determining your 10-rep max (10RM) of any given exercise.  Once this is established, you begin by completing 10 reps using 50 percent of the resistance of your 10RM.  This should not take you to failure.  Rest two to three minutes, then perform 10 reps using 75 percent of the resistance of your 10RM; again, this should not take you to failure.  Finally, perform one last set of 10 reps using the weight equal to your 10RM.  On this final set only, you’ll reach muscular failure.

The Oxford Method is effectively the inverse of the DeLorme method whereby instead of progressively increasing the resistance, you progressively decrease it.  Begin by completing one set of 10 reps using the full resistance of your 10RM.  If you hit failure (which you should), don’t worry since you’re about to first rest and then decrease the weight.  After resting, perform a set of 10 reps using 75 percent of your 10RM.  Rest again for two to three minutes, then perform a final set of 10 reps using only 50 percent of your 10RM.  The extent to which these two modes mirror each other is evident.

As mentioned, both of these methods have been demonstrated (by numerous studies over the last half-century) to increase strength in subjects when used for periods ranging from four to ten weeks.  In a very real sense, the DeLorme Method uses a “warm-up” style from set to set, whereas the Oxford Method uses a “warm-down” approach.  Although both methods quantifiably increase strength, want to know which one has been consistently proven to be slightly more effective than the other?  In a research report from the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, subjects using the DeLorme Method while performing leg extensions experienced about 5.2 percent greater strength gains over the course of 10 reps, compared to the Oxford Method.

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