I have been working out with weights for a year now and have read several books on the subject but I haven’t found a good answer to this question: how many reps per set? For example, Bill Pearl’s book Getting Stronger is great for many things but is vague on this point. He basically says do 8 to 10 reps each set until the last rep is fairly difficult. Therein lies the problem.
My confusion has to do exercises I do in three sets. My first set is usually going to be easier than the following ones. I might not reach “fairly difficult” on the first set until, for example, 12 reps, but then only be able to perform 10 or 8 for the next two sets. I’ve been stopping before I reach “fairly difficult” on the first set in order to do three sets of 8, 9, or 10 - by the end of which I have definitely reached “fairly difficult”.
Should I be stopping short on the first set? What should the goal be for each set?