If you have been in the gym for at least a few weeks then you’ve probably heard of this wildly famous 12-10-8-6 workout routine.

You probably got interested in why everyone is following it and what is it with this regime. Why is everyone following it or following a version of it?

We will answer all of these in this article but first, let’s understand what the workout is and who came up with this idea.

What is the 12-10-8 Workout Routine?

The legendary bodybuilder Dave Draper came up with the 12-10-8-6 workout routine, where you start with a weight with which you cannot do any more than 12 repetitions. The idea is to lift weights that are neither too heavy nor too light and be able to do the set at moderate frequencies till failure.


Then for the next set, lift weights for which you can do no more than 10 reps and do the reps till failure. Follow the same procedure for 3 to 4 sets or until you are out of muscle to lift any further.

The 12-10-8 workout routine is one of the most commonly followed workout regimes because of its ease to follow and the effectiveness of the workout.

How does the 12-10-8 Routine Work?

The 12-10-8 gym routine works on the principle of cumulative fatigue.

Cumulative fatigue means the tiredness developed in the muscle because of working out. With each rep that you perform with a muscle or a particular body part, the next rep becomes more difficult to execute than the last.

When you do a set to failure, any further workout that requires strength from the same muscle becomes more difficult. Reducing the number of reps prepares you mentally for the workout and hence makes it look easier to execute.

The 12-10-8 routine finds a balance between the frequency of reps and the weight that you should lift. The routine pulls the most out of your muscles in a short burst of time if done correctly and with proper weights.

45-60 Seconds Time Principle

The ideal time required for each of the sets of a variation should fall between 45-60 seconds. The ideal practice should be, where you take one second to push the dumbbells up, hold it there for one second and then slowly let the weights down in 3 seconds.

The 12-10-8 workout routine falls right in that time period where 12 repetitions would require around 60 seconds. The lower reps also fall in the same range as it becomes more and more difficult to lift the weights. Instead of one second to push the weights up, it would take a little longer especially during the last few repetitions of the set.

The Cumulative Fatigue Principle


The principle of cumulative fatigue is the reason why the routine works. If you take extremely lightweights and try this workout, you will realize that it is the most ineffective workout routine. If you lift more than what you can, you sure would end up injuring yourself.

The cumulative fatigue, carried over multiple sets, of Dave Draper’s 12-10-8 workout routine, implies that you reached failure in the first set and you will do another set and reach failure again, this tires out your muscle. When you ready up for the third set it challenges your body and the fatigue is beyond repair at that point.

The body will soon realize the challenge is a lot tougher and will make amends to adapt to it. The challenge of the set is the reason why your muscles grow.

The Dos and Don’t

Of course, there are some dos and don’t for Dave Draper’s workout routine which you should always keep in mind when you follow the routine.

Don’t Half Rep

The whole idea of doing the 12-10-8 routine is doing each set to failure. Doing a half rep with the mindset that you still have to do a few more repetitions or that you have to do 1 or 2 more sets, kills the purpose of the routine.

Instead of doing half reps when you are tired, do the full rep and instead of trying to reach the magic number reach failure on a lower rep number. Go for the science behind the magic number and not the number.

If you do a few reps less it is fine, but don’t do it without fulfilling the purpose of the set.

Don’t Lift Lighter than You Can

Lifting lighter than you can for the first set, just because you are thinking you have to do three sets kills the purpose of the first set itself and the routine as a whole.

Remember the routine works on the principle of cumulative fatigue. If you don’t fatigue the muscle in each and every set the last set would become pointless and so would all the sets.

Rep to Failure

Whenever you follow Dave Draper’s 12-10-8 workout routine make sure to do the sets to failure. If you are not lifting heavy enough then there would be no point in doing it at all. If the weights are heavier and you cannot do the number then don’t exert too much, don’t end up injuring yourself.

When you are tired enough and you cannot control the weights anymore, drop them and stop the set. If you didn’t make it to 12 reps and you did 11, or 10, or even 9 it is fine. As long as you had a difficult time with those last few reps.

The idea of reaching failure in each and every set of the workout is the reason why the workout routine is so effective. When you challenge yourself to do more than your body can hold, it will definitely change.

Wrapping Up

If there is no challenge, there is no improvement.

The reason why Dave Draper’s workout routine works is because of the challenge it poses for your body. The body will eventually adapt to the challenge and then growth and gains will be inevitable, they are on their way.

The only bad thing about the workout routine is the hype around it. At least one person in every gym follows this and without knowing the science behind it. Doing half reps, lifting light weights, or doing at a very high frequency where we finish off 12 reps in 20 seconds ruins the purpose of the workout.

Okay bros and broettes, if you want to follow the 12-10-8 workout designed by the legend Dave Draper, these were all the things you need to know. Keep following Cannot Cardio for more such articles and workout routines.

Stay Fit and Stay Awesome!


Posted by:Sunain Banga

This is Sunain! I'm might turn up as shy at first, like I might extend my hand for a handshake and if you don't react within the next 0.03 second I'll just take it back wondering if I over did the acquaintance limits, but if you do react, I'll just take back and flee because you came out too bold and I won't be back until I don't think it is necessary to crawl out of my hole. But, when I do crawl out, you are going to have a night full of stories and a day full of well, more stories. I talk a lot. Also, I'm an Author! The title is The First Crush - at 13.

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