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S&C UnderGround >> Building muscle over building strength


5/20/12 6:23 PM
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HERTSWENIP
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Edited: 05/20/12 6:24 PM
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I'll go to "failure" on the last rep of my last set...

But my defintion of failure is stopping just BEFORE I'm unable to lift the weight with perfect form, and zero stagnation. Ie -If I'm slowly grinding out and struggling at any point on the movement, i've already gone too far.
5/20/12 9:05 PM
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ArtWanderlei
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HERTSWENIP - I'll go to "failure" on the last rep of my last set...

But my defintion of failure is stopping just BEFORE I'm unable to lift the weight with perfect form, and zero stagnation. Ie -If I'm slowly grinding out and struggling at any point on the movement, i've already gone too far.

 same.  Going to failure on the first set never made sense to me. 
5/21/12 7:41 AM
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LordSeano
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On the 'dont go to failure' point whats better (for muscle building) would you say over 5 sets

- keep the weight static at a weight that means you just about hit failure on the 5th set

- or do 5,4,3,2,1 with an increasing weight

Assuming that on the last rep of the last set you would be at a higher % of your 1rm in the second example
5/21/12 8:53 AM
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Leigh
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I'm back from the gym. I had a go at it and it was quite good fun not going to failure. I bashed my foot in sparring last week, so this worked quite well for me. I didn't do any sets to failure and I did about 7 or 8 heavy sets and I don't feel as bad as when I only do a single set to failure

If this not pushing yourself works, I'm gonna stick with it, although I think I should do a clean and press to failure in there as well somewhere, to maintain/build neural strength
5/21/12 9:54 AM
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LiftStrong
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Hitting failure on an O-lift is different than failure on a conventional/power lift imo. It a faster movement where you pull hard or push hard, but when you miss it your time under tension is minimal. When you fail the bar goes nowhere and you drop it.

Whereas with a deadlift for instance, when you miss you usually end up having a 3-5 second grind exerting 100% effort. That can be very taxing on your CNS. Anyone else feel completely smoked and ready for a nap after a max effort deadlift session? I know I do.

In a muscle building scenario, it is really up to the individual to decide if the benefit of going to failure is greater than the additional recovery time that will be required. Recovery is half of the game. If you are sparring or fighting, I think you are better off avoiding failure most of the time.
5/21/12 9:54 AM
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vermonter
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LordSeano - On the 'dont go to failure' point whats better (for muscle building) would you say over 5 sets

- keep the weight static at a weight that means you just about hit failure on the 5th set

- or do 5,4,3,2,1 with an increasing weight

Assuming that on the last rep of the last set you would be at a higher % of your 1rm in the second example


It probably matters most which one you'd prefer to do. As long as you're working consistently with heavy weights, you will get stronger at lifting. The minutiae of the rep schemes is trivial by comparison.
5/21/12 10:08 AM
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vermonter
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Edited: 05/21/12 11:29 AM
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Leigh - I'm back from the gym. I had a go at it and it was quite good fun not going to failure. I bashed my foot in sparring last week, so this worked quite well for me. I didn't do any sets to failure and I did about 7 or 8 heavy sets and I don't feel as bad as when I only do a single set to failure

If this not pushing yourself works, I'm gonna stick with it, although I think I should do a clean and press to failure in there as well somewhere, to maintain/build neural strength


I find it more fun as well. Also, sounds like you got a lot more work in and still felt better as a result. Pretty cool, right?

It definitely works. Neuroreception responds most significantly to volume, frequency*, and intensity. Mechanoreception responds most significantly to - are you ready? - volume, frequency*, and intensity.

In other words, you'll be building greater neural strength via fatigue avoidance, so your planned sets to failure (in the traditional sense, as opposed to Hert's more conservative approach) are not necessarily a good idea. Besides, any serious lifter is going to lift to failure sometimes... just the nature of the beast. Let it happen naturally when it does, and leave the planning for keeping the railways safe.

* note - frequency here is really a factor of volume. I include it because people sometimes associate volume with the work done over a given session of exercise, whereas your weekly volume is probably a more significant indicator of concomitant success.
5/21/12 10:12 AM
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vermonter
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LiftStrong - Hitting failure on an O-lift is different than failure on a conventional/power lift imo. It a faster movement where you pull hard or push hard, but when you miss it your time under tension is minimal. When you fail the bar goes nowhere and you drop it.

Whereas with a deadlift for instance, when you miss you usually end up having a 3-5 second grind exerting 100% effort. That can be very taxing on your CNS. Anyone else feel completely smoked and ready for a nap after a max effort deadlift session? I know I do.

In a muscle building scenario, it is really up to the individual to decide if the benefit of going to failure is greater than the additional recovery time that will be required. Recovery is half of the game. If you are sparring or fighting, I think you are better off avoiding failure most of the time.


Good point on the differences between failure on an olift vs a powerlift.

My question to you on your last paragraph is this: What benefits of going to failure?
5/21/12 10:18 AM
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ArtWanderlei
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 Lee, what is a good post workout meal?  Bangers and mash?
5/21/12 10:20 AM
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vermonter
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Fish and chips, IMO.
5/21/12 10:23 AM
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ArtWanderlei
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 also, in the OP, you mention "Doug" do you mean me or the verometer?
5/21/12 10:46 AM
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LiftStrong
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Doug - I would say the main benefit of going to failure would be hypertrophy. In a max effort scenario it could also be good for motivation. I peronally dont like missing reps, so I never go to failure by design.
5/21/12 10:59 AM
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vermonter
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Thanks for the quick response.

What do you think occurs in a set to failure that benefits hypertrophy in a way that avoiding failure does not?
5/21/12 11:24 AM
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Leigh
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Doug, thanks for all that info, very useful. Yep, I did get much more work in and feel better. My only issue is that I've done this before and found that my maximal strength went down but I didn't record it in my log or anything so there could have been other factors at play.

I think a benefit of going to failure is knowing you are ready to increase weight, whereas not going to failure makes it more of a guess.

Art, I would not use your real name here. I only use vermonters because its well known. After training today, I had left over roast pork and potatoes with gravy from yesterday. My usual PW meal is a litre of chocolate milk
5/21/12 11:49 AM
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vermonter
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Edited: 05/21/12 11:55 AM
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Leigh - Doug, thanks for all that info, very useful. Yep, I did get much more work in and feel better. My only issue is that I've done this before and found that my maximal strength went down but I didn't record it in my log or anything so there could have been other factors at play.


Possibly due to confounding factors, as you mention. Was your volume too low? Generally, people who constantly fatigue themselves during their workouts are used to low frequency training.

For some perspective, many eastern bloc o-lifters perform a given lift 2 or 3 times daily, 5 or 6 days per week. They typically keep to about 2 reps per set, and typically avoid fatigue. These guys are plenty strong.


I think a benefit of going to failure is knowing you are ready to increase weight, whereas not going to failure makes it more of a guess.


Do you mean that if you've gone to failure you know what your max is and knowing your max is important for determinine when to go up in weight?

There are ways around this. You could just train to failure on occasion as a test, for one, but I think there are more elegant approaches.

When I was crushing the pullups, I had a given marker that told me it was time for an increase (either in weight, or reps). That marker was 50 total reps in a workout (I would have allowed "50 total reps in a day" but my day's exercise was confined to one workout at the time). I'd also only do a fixed number of reps per set in a given workout. E.G. if i was working on 5 rep sets, each day I'd go up to the rings, and bust out sets of 5. Every day I went, I would add a set (or two or three, depending on feel). The day I got up to 50 total reps (10 sets in this example) signalled the change to more reps or more weight. My success rate with this approach was 100%. There was never an instance in which I wasn't ready for more reps or more sets on completion.

I think, for your purposes, you could come up with a similar method with a little practice. I chose 50 only because i was trying to do 50 straight pullups at 240 lbs, but no reason the principles can't be adjusted.

Art, I would not use your real name here. I only use vermonters because its well known. After training today, I had left over roast pork and potatoes with gravy from yesterday. My usual PW meal is a litre of chocolate milk


I'm famous!
5/21/12 12:02 PM
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Leigh
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Correct, I did not increase volume and my volume is typically VERY low (1 heavy rep per week). Will I have to drastically increase volume? Cos I don't want to spend an hour in the gym every week. I did my 8 sets today in 30 minutes. I normally do 1 heavy set in about 15 minutes cos I have to make sure I warm up properly, so I can get loads more volume in but is it enough? I guess I'll have to see
5/21/12 12:07 PM
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vermonter
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Edited: 05/21/12 12:13 PM
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I think, for your purposes, you could come up with a similar method with a little practice. I chose 50 only because i was trying to do 50 straight pullups at 240 lbs, but no reason the principles can't be adjusted.


I'll give you an example off the top of my head while I'm at it.

Let's say you go in and work with a given rep range as i mentioned. Your goal will be to achieve 5 sets without getting fatigued. Rest however long you feel like in between sets. Don't watch the clock, go by feel.

Once you achieve 5 sets, then go up a rep per set in your next workout with the same weight. Do this until you you have achieved 5 x 5. Once you've done that, go up in weight and start back with 5 x 1 the following workout.

Pick only a few big lifts that are the most fun for you to do this with. Don't do this with more than 3 lifts. Do each lift as many times per week as you want. This method will show you the appropriate times to increase reps and weight without needing failure.
5/21/12 12:12 PM
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vermonter
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Leigh - Correct, I did not increase volume and my volume is typically VERY low (1 heavy rep per week). Will I have to drastically increase volume? Cos I don't want to spend an hour in the gym every week. I did my 8 sets today in 30 minutes. I normally do 1 heavy set in about 15 minutes cos I have to make sure I warm up properly, so I can get loads more volume in but is it enough? I guess I'll have to see



1 heavy REP per week, or 1 heavy SET per week?

Yes you will have to increase volume.

I did the method outlined above for pullups and dips, and worked out for probably a total of an hour to an hour and a half per week. 10 sets of 5 took an eternity, but then my next workout would be like 2 or 3 sets of 7, which probably took 15 mins at most.
5/21/12 12:15 PM
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Leigh
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1 heavy rep. I was maintaining my strength on my lifts with a single max of C&J once per week

Your method seems difficult to me. If I'm doing 5 reps and not to failure, I could do a 6th rep at any time - how do I know when I should do that 6th rep or not?
5/21/12 12:22 PM
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vermonter
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Leigh - 1 heavy rep. I was maintaining my strength on my lifts with a single max of C&J once per week

Your method seems difficult to me. If I'm doing 5 reps and not to failure, I could do a 6th rep at any time - how do I know when I should do that 6th rep or not?


Maybe I'm just explaining it poorly. It's pretty much the simplest method possible, so if it sounds complex, then it's just the way I'm wording it.

To answer your question: every single time you go in to do a lift, you will be doing only one given number of reps per set. The only variable in a given workout is the number of sets you do.

E.G. if I chose benching as one of the lifts, and last time i benched I did 5 sets of 3 reps, then today I'm going to do 4 reps per set. The only thing I don't know getting under the bar is the number of sets i'm going to do, but I'm going to try for 5. Lets say I make it through 3 sets of 4 reps and I don't think I can do a fourth set without missing a rep. Workout over. I go home. Next time I come in, I'm still benching with 4 reps. This time i do my 5 sets. I've achieved my goal so next time I will be doing sets of 5.

Hopefully it makes sense. I came up with the workout on the spot, but I can make it even simpler if you'd like.
5/21/12 12:29 PM
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Jacks Wasted Life
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I have found low rep, strength based training far more effective than any traditional bodybuilding split routines for size gains. Basically, bodybuilding routines were worthless for me, I MAY have gotten a little more cut but no serious size or strength gains to speak of. I've put on 15+ pounds of bodyweight in the past 10 months doing low rep training, am noticeably bigger and more muscular have gotten quite a bit stronger.

I like lifting for 5 sets of 5 and lifting short of failure most of the time. I start light and increase weight each set so the 5th set is my heaviest. If I get 5 reps on my top set, I either increase the weight 5lbs the following workout, or use the same top weight 1-2 more workouts before going up. If I can't get 5 reps, I do as many as I can and shoot to get another rep at the following workout. I seem to burnout when I consistently make it a point to lift to failure. Phone Post
5/21/12 5:07 PM
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Leigh
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vermonter - Lets say I make it through 3 sets of 4 reps and I don't think I can do a fourth set without missing a rep.

This is the issue for me. I don't think about anything other than putting the bar up. Its not about what I think, it goes or it doesn't. Maybe its something I'll just need to get used to. I know for a fact I could have done more reps on every set today but I have no idea how many more reps

Jack, I think that's similar to what I'll be doing

Thanks to everyone else for their input
5/22/12 9:56 AM
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Taku
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 Hey Doug,

Got another strange e-mail from you today. Were you hacked again?

TAKU
5/22/12 10:28 AM
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vermonter
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Leigh - 
vermonter - Lets say I make it through 3 sets of 4 reps and I don't think I can do a fourth set without missing a rep.

This is the issue for me. I don't think about anything other than putting the bar up. Its not about what I think, it goes or it doesn't. Maybe its something I'll just need to get used to. I know for a fact I could have done more reps on every set today but I have no idea how many more reps

Jack, I think that's similar to what I'll be doing

Thanks to everyone else for their input


Really? You don't know the feeling of a rep that tells you the next one is going to be hard to grind out? Interesting...

It's all about practice anyway. If you stop short, it's not a big deal as long as the weight is heavy, and your total volume is good.
5/22/12 10:29 AM
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vermonter
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Taku -  Hey Doug,

Got another strange e-mail from you today. Were you hacked again?

TAKU


Looks like. You'll know its me if I actually email you, no worries. I won't just send some random link with no info.

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