T Nation

CONFUSED..training fatigue

I could have titled this many different things. I find in my training that I cannot stay strong throughout the workout. For example, today I did chest/triceps. Incline DB press 100,95,90x6@402, then when i go to flat bench i did 165,155,135x8@301. Whats up with that strength drop? There could not have been a 9th rep cause i would have failed. i can be strong on the first movement of bodyparts and then my weights come right down and im still not in the high rep bracket. What is this indicative of? Physiologically? Secondly, is it me or is training triceps with chest a rip off to the triceps?

Doesnt going from heavy dumbbells to a light bench on the second movement seem a tad odd?

I am no expert (more of a Ian King/CP mimic) but it seems that your volume is to high. Generally a five percent fall off from one set to another with adaquate rest is an indicator that the muscle is done. 6 sets of presses may be too much. 3 sets on the first exercise may be to much. I would suggest picking up “Get Buffed.” as it lays out the different things that may be going wrong. There are just so many variables to look at. As far as triceps getting ripped off after chest. If small/weak triceps are a problem why not train them first in the workout on occasion.

I hate to work out my tricepts with my chest, I go for the antagonistic approach, doing chest in conjunction with my biceps. This seems to work well for me.

There could be several different things going on. If this happens on every bodypart then it’s either one of 3 things…

  1. you’re not eating sufficiently to load enough glycogen into your cells.
  2. you’re not resting long enough in between sets.
  3. you’re mostly a fast-twitch muscle type and your muscles just naturally fatigue quickly.

It could also be that you’re in an overtrained state but I think for the most part when someone is overtrained they have the most difficulty at the beginning of the workout…subsequent sets tend to get the lack of neural energy flowing.

If this only happens when you're training chest or shoulders then it might be you have long arms and your triceps are doing too much of the work.....so your arms fatigue much faster then your chest and you can't lift as much weight.

Chris, the first thing you should do is go back a few issues and read Charles Staley’s article on training to failure.
In addition to that, I’ll tell you that from everyone I’ve talked to, not many of the greatest strength coaches have their athletes going to failure all that often. This includes Charles Poliquin, Ian King, and Charles Staley. If your weights are dropping that much, you most certainly are going to failure with every set. STOP! You MUST remember the impact of residual fatigue. Once your loads drop even 5% it’s time to quit. Each set influences the next, and if there is, in fact, to be subsequent sets of the same exercise, there had better be a good reason for it. For example, perhaps you’re trying to potentiate your nervous system with a heavy load in the first set as in the 1-6 principle or any variation of it. Or, perhaps you’re using a wave loading method, where the first wave accomplishes a similar potentiation of the nervous system. In short, if you’re going to failure and allowing your weights to drop that low, these last sets really don’t accomplish anything other than to impede your recovery ability.
Instead of this 3 X 8 rep scheme you have going for both incline and flat dumbell presses, try this… 2 sets incline dumbell (6 reps first set, 10 reps second set), 2 sets decline neutral grip dumbell (6 reps first set, 10 reps second set), 2 sets flat barbell bench (4 reps first set, 8 reps second set). Leave AT LEAST 3 reps in the tank with the first set of each exercise, and a solid 1 rep left in the tank with the second set of each exercise.

Chris, I’m a little confused…did you do your first set of dumbbell presses with 100 and then reduce for each set to make the six reps? And did you do the same thing on the bench? Started with 165 and dropped down to 155 and then 135?

You are sort of following the “standard sets” method of doing three sets of x reps. This is something Ian preaches against in his training books.

So maybe you need to do things a little differently. Maybe switch to some lower rep, heavier weights for a while…and stop doing the three sets method!

Also, if you can successfully hit the muscle in one or two sets, why do another? And if you need to hit the fast-twitch fibers with heavy weight and low reps, why not try the 5x5 method or some wave loading (4,3,2,4,3,2) or something like the contrast training (1,6,1,6).

I’m sure that will help you out. And yes, your nutritional needs could be the problem. Be sure you are eating properly.

Great responses. ok lets see. Stats first, 26yrs old, 6’1" 225lbs@13% training for 5 yrs. Never been that strong except for deadlifting. started weighing 147lbs@19yrs of age. Adam, I have actually raised my volume to compensate for the fact that Im somewhat “enhanced” now. Kelly, I dont think its the eating; protein is now at 300, carbs around 400+ with around 80gms fat. Besides this seems to always have happened. Regarding rest, on this particular day I was resting 3 minutes b/w sets. I recently took my off week as well so im hoping im not overtrained. Could someone weighing 147lbs at 6’1" when they were in their teens be mostly fast twitch? The long arms thing might be an issue as i do feel triceps on pushing exercises as i approach lockout, but what else can i do about that? preexhaust all chest work? Doug, these sets are 1 rep shy of failure so the next rep would be failure. Nate, yes that is what I did, 100s first and then reduced the weight accordingly. Oddly enough, with that bench being at 165 as a second movement; if i had done bench first id use 225 for 8-10@301. so its a significant strength difference. The reason I have uppped my volume is because i read a comment by Bill regarding training while on in which he stated the total weekly volume should be right up there. so thats what i have done. im not sure i want to get into really low reps as i wont put on as much size in that bracket. if i had to choose it would be more size than strength. does this provide more information for further comment?

So all things aside. is it agreed upon that training volume should increase while using? suggestions? GVT? i think thats too much now as i cant use enough weight on that to get the sets. fatigue issue again.

This was taken from an early Question of Strength and is a quote from Charles Poliquin, “Thanks for the compliment. As far as your problem, please note that the 7% rule generally applies to training for maximal strength (loads of 85% of maximum or more). In classical body building training, I recommend approximately a 20% drop-off.”

I have one point that no-one else has addressed: take creatine.

Whenever I start taking creatine, I always notice performance improvements at the end of a particular exercise, e.g. the strength drops you’re describing disappear and I’m able to maintain my target rep range in all sets without dropping the weight.