T Nation

Effort In Training


Hi iron brothers and sisters,

this post is directed especially on those of you,who are NOT following Waterbury workouts but simple splits like Thibs,where the effort recommondation is to train hard and also to failure.
I have a little problem about the definition of hard training.

For Chad's workouts its a great deal-you are watching that the weights go up and keep intensity in check regarding failure,cause the weight is equal for all sets.
Doing splits is (often) the other end of the spectrum:

How you know you are improving,if each set is not least one rep short of failure.
If you have still 3 more reps in the tank-sure it is easy to improve the next workout-cause there were already some reserves.

How is that solved?

Furthermore it is a psychological phanomenom for sure-lets say (like in the darden programms) you only do ONE set of curls to 10 reps.

I BET that this ONE set will be MORE intense and full of efford than doing 3 sets of curls,3 sets of cabel and 3 sets of preachers.
Why? Cause unconsciously you are holding back reserves and not giving THIS effort of one set to 9 sets.

Its like running-if you are going for 5 sprints VS.one.
The efford you put in only one sprint stands in no relation in doing this for 5-cause you know you have ONLY one try-and THIS must be perfect...

Background of the post is,that i come from the Waterbury corner, and perhaps want to try some great stuff of Thibs-but i see (for me) some problems involved.
Can somebody help me out ?
thanks for your time


Well you learn and train your self NOT to hold back. You give 100% intensity on every rep psuh as hard as possible even though yolu are not failing as opposed to going on a 505 tempo slowly pushing the weight up etc. you PUSH the mutha up.

How do you gauge progress?? Over time. By continual slow multi faceted progression adding a rep, a few lbs, less rest etc. Your progressing continuosly HOPEFULLY.

Now sure the Darden HIT to failure stuff can and does work as well. It all works why thorw any of it out put it all in your tool box to use.

Have you done any of CW's programs. Not just a week but give it a REAL run of 8 weeks or so?? Try it and see how you do


hi there,thanks for the great reply.
i have done the AOW about 10 weeks-but then -I stagnated and it was time to make some changes.
So you mean simple to train hard to see progress in reps weight whatever-thats the case when doing Waterbury programms-you keep going forward but also fresh and not grounded.
For thibs programms i have the impression,that not the progress is on the first place(sure it is important),but the exhaustion after training.
thats why Thib also gives no progression numbers(do one rep more on each set each workout,increase the weight about 1,25%--2,5% etc) like chad does.
I miss some benchmarks here.
And thats what I meant-if you thought you trained hard,but you had still reserves-sure it is easy to improve the next workout.
For chads workouts it was a good feeling to train-the last rep of the last set was near to failure and I put all my efford in the given sets to fullfill my progression.
Sometimes it was easy,sometimes tougher again-but there was a steady increase.
And the last set was often really exhausting and I cannot imagine to fullfill this effort in the last set of Chads porgramms in 15 sets of Thibs!!!

Got me?


The problem is you are comparing apples and oranges both are good foods and serve their purpose but they are VERY different.

Ill just touch on Thibs and the main prob I see is you are taking his latest program HSS-100 as a whole on its own. Well its not. Thib stated himself he will cycle through different programs. doing HSS-100 for pure size etc. then next he'll do a strength phase. So you have to take the training as a whole and cycles for different purposes.

as for progression on his. Sure you can progress but its not as cut and dry and laid out for you. Look at his sets. they pyramid up and aim to stay in a rep range. Next time you do this hopefully that last set you'll add weight or a rep or two.

also in that program Yes you are seeking fatigue utter torn do muscles but you also doint train them directly for a whole week. where as in most of CW's you train them 3 or more. Different ways to skin a cat.

Like I said prior use them ALL why limit yourself??



Its just a matter of experiance

the first workout the weight you picked you may not have pushed as hard as you absolutly could have. The following workout hopefully you can learn from this and chose your weights more appropriatly.

I don't see this as a CW style training vs. CT style of training issue, but as something that you are faced with anytime you change programs.

Even if your given a whole bunch of very specific parameters more often then not they are going to require some tweaking to work best for you.


thanks guys for your 2 coints.
It is a point,that with each new workout you first have to get into it.

But nevertheless it is in my opinion 2 different styles of training also regarding the subjektive intensity-CW vs CT.

So how hard guys I should train when doing CT workouts-as mentioned for CW the rep schemes and progressions are workoung for itself and the last rep of the last set should be near/to failure

Sure you should train hard-but what does it mean in the CT context-dou you should also train short to failure-in the last rep of the last set-in each set-each set to failure????
As seen, the CW schemes are more easy to follow cause you have great guidelines and you know if you progressed-but how are these for CT workouts?
Can I train here with CW schemes-the main different beeing more exercises per group a day?
I am missing some structure here-do you got me?
How have you trained with CT programms?


any and ALL routines if you want to get the full benefit should be done as intensly as possible giving your ALL on every set getting it done and getting the hell out. while folowing the parameters for the program to work.

with CW that being frequency so you stop one rep or so short of failure that doesnt mean you didnt work damn hard, you gave your all on every rep push that load as hard as possible on every rep.

With CT's HSS-100 sure you go to failure, But you are training that body part once a week. you can and have more time to hesal and then next time you either use a higher load and try to get the same reps, or the same load and aim ton get more reps. etc.Like any good program your aiming always top do a little better.

I dont see what is so hard to grasp??


Dear phil,

Thanks again for your time.
I know that you should push your limits and bang your ass in the gym.

But you must admit,that CT training is much more exhausting than chads.
To be sincerly,the real heavy set at chads programms is the last one for the same muscle group.
If you go for 4x10 with 230 pounds and the programm calls for 4x11 with 230 on the next one,then the weight will be REALLY heavy on the 4th set in the 11th rep.That doesnt?t mean the other sets are easy,but through the cummulativ fatigue,the last set is the really tough one.

For CT as i have understand,the effort of EACH set is comparable to the LAST set of Chads -and here i have the problem,cause I cannot imagine,that it is possible to bring the SAME effort I bring in the LAST set of Chads scheme in 15 SETS of Chris.
The last set of Chads schemes is really tough and i am satisfied when it is done and over.But it is only ONE tough set and the others of him are not THAT tough.
Got me? Perhaps it is a psychological problem but i cannot imagine to fullfill "15 high efford quality Chad sets"in chris programms...


Sure CT's program is more exhuastive on a single day for a single muscle group. But once again not the same if you look over the course of a training week. Apples and oranges bro. Two different roads to take.

No you cant expect to be able to accheive the same performance on every set in HSS-100 your not expected to. you are also pyramiding up in weight as well. But you can progress can add a rep or tw a lb or two to the load, and yes you should be able to bring the same level of intensity in how hard you are trying to lift the weight.

two totally different methods each with thier use. CW's hitting the entire muscle, various qualities and fibers over a week. CT's doing it and totally exhausting the same muscle in a day.


hi phil,thanks again for your patience and reply-but one think i cannot grap:

If not EACH set of Thibs programms is taken at least one rep short of failure-how is it possible to see if I progressed-do you know what i mean?

Lets say i do benching: (the weight is moving downward cause of the cummulative fatigue)

1 set: 200x6 failure
2.set:190x6 failure
3.set185x7 approx.2 reps short of failure.

Next week:

3.set 185x8-
sure it is easy to press out one more rep,because the week before were still reserves (2 reps short of failure)-but did i progressed? i don?t know.This is what i mean,and i cannot imagine that you are able to do 15 sets all to failure or one rep short of,cause it is TOO intense for 15 sets-for 3 or 5 it is possible,but not for 15 sets.

Also intensity techniques you are not able to do for 15 sets( imagine to do 15 staggs? Hell!).

Sure it is not written in stone to train to failure or sort of. Anfd that there are lot ways to skin a cat-I know that.

_But for the progression(on thibs programms),it is in my eyes "better" visible if each set is one rep short of/to failure-so you can be SURe that if you squeeze out one more rep the week after,it is a "real" one and not a "reserve" you already had.

And this is the problem that i cannot imagine to keep this efford over 15 sets in EACH of those.

got me now-I understand that there are different ways of training and that each programm has his structure in his own-but for me the Thib way is a bit blured.
Sorry for my paralises analyses!


Hey bro no worries I like it but you do have me smacking my own damn forehead and wanting to reach through the screen and choke you at times. Trying to get my message across.

Well theres your prob mate you have that ALLL wrong. CT advises stopping a rep shy one every set except the last the last one you go to failure. (if enhanced then you can go to failure on earlier sets as well) and you pyramid UP not down

So it would be like this using your same loads for ease.

1 set: 190 x6 1 short of failure
2.set:200 x6 1 short of failure
3.set210 x 7 failure

the next week since this one went so well it may (HOPEFULLY)look like this

1 set: 200x6 1 short of failure
2.set:210 x6 1 short of failure
3.set: 220 x 7 failure

Your aiming to do a BIT more each time be it reps or sets. If you get OVER the amount of reps prescribed before failure (say 6) then next week up the load. If you get less than 6 on the last set and fail next week go for another rep or two same loads.

hes not asking you to do 15 sets so this doesnt hold water. most of the time its 8 or less and several are warm up sets.

See above it should help.



is he talking about 15 sets per one exercise?i've never seen that shit.

In most cases you either keep the same reps and move the weight up,or keep the weight and move the reps up.Take a look at Adavanced German Volume Training,its hard but a fun one to do.

Also why would someone stop 3 reps shy of failure?seems to me that would really limit progress,if you finish all your sets and still have something in you then drop the weight down and rep out.


hi there,
thanks again for your patience phil.

I didn?t see the pyramid loading regarded to christians hs100 fex...

To make it a bit easier-i also wrote to thib some months ago and his statement was to train to close at failure as possible for all reps from 6-12 and to adjust the weight for each set.
Some months later he wrote that not neccessarily to train to failure and that he also uses the dorian approach (last set to failure,the first set before the last set one rep short of)

So also 2 differnt options and guidelines-not easy.

So if you make the pyramid with increasing weights from set to set and each set of these one rep short of failure-it is NOT possible (also regarding the right rest period from 1-2minutes) to increase the weight.
Cause of the cummulative fatigue and the short rest periods of the sets,you could ONLY increase the weight by holding back about 3 reps in the tank-otherwise you have to reduce the weight for the next sets-IF the first set has already a proper load selection which allows you stay in a range for ex.6-8 reps and the other sets of this exercise call for the same range.

Sure he advises for about 15 sets devided to about 4 different exercises per group-but this are work sets,no warm ups-as i understood.



Try it yourself dude-pick up a weight you can barely bench for 6 times.
Rest 1.30 and then increase the weight about 5-7 pounds and try again-I BEG my ASS that you can only get about 3-4 reps and not more.
If your limit is already reached in the first set-it is NOT possible to increase the load and stay in the SAME rep range.(sure if the range is from 8-14 reps but not 6-8 fex)
So pyramid loading regarding to stop one rep short of failure in each set, is only possible if you keep reserves (in form of reps)in your tank and/or if you lower the reps like:
5 reps
2 reps
but definately not when doing:
6-8 reps one rep hort of failure
6-8 reps one rep hort of failure
6-8 reps one rep hort of failure



Well thats the thing you are progressively getting closer and closer to the failurwe point as you go up. Then the last set will be true failure Hoping to stay in that rep raneg you have set. If you dont make it next work out you aim to progress by maiking those reps. If you do make it then next week you raise the weight etc.

Here is one such day from his w/o journal.

A. Bench press (wide grip, lower the bar to the collar bone)
2 warm-up of 12 reps
1 x 8 @ 280lbs
1 x 8 @ 285lbs
1 x 6 @ 290lbs
1 x 6 @ 295lbs
1 x 4 @ 305lbs
1 x 4 @ 315lbs

He was apparently aiming to stop in the 4 rep range zone. so as he went UP the reps slowly dropped to avoid failure but Get CLOSE. then the last set is pushed to the limit. so next w/o he would or you or I would up that final load to say 325 and aim to PROGRESS and get 4 reps the set prior would be the 315 from the last week etc.

I dont see where you are getting confused its rather simple.


But you have NOT to use the pyramid form right?

For HS100 fex you have

5 sets of 6-8
the Superset of 4x8-10reps or so
4 sets of 10-12 for the special exercise
and the 100 reps

-no pyramid-
So fex the first 5 sets of this could look like this:

1:200 pounds x 8 reps one short of failure
2:195 pounds x 8 reps one short of
3:190 pounds x 7 reps one short of
4:185 pounds x 6 reps failure
5:180 pounds x 6 reps failure

So the following week should/could(??)look like this:
1:205 poundsx7 one rep short
2:200 poundsx6 one rep short
3:195x7 one rep short
4:190x6 failure
5:185x5 failure

Am i right:do I have to increase my reps/load on EACH set on EACH workout?

I think we have it...:wink:


Um no sorry bud you have it wrong. What I gave was a cut and paste from what CT himself did and wrote in his workout journal

So for yet another example using the loads and reps you gave. Say your 8rm is that 200 you would then do this after a few warm up sets.

180 x 8 (short of failure)
185 x 8 (short of failure)
190 x 8 (short of failure)
195 x 8 (short of failure)
200 x 8 failure

OK since you were able to get the 8 reps prior to failure on the LAST set next week you up the loads, if you didnt then you would do the same loads and aim to do more reps.

Check out his w/o journal its all there for you.


hi phil,

i know the training of Thib.
take a look at the LOCKED AND LOADED article,there he also uses straight sets-which means one equal load for all sets for an exercise-do you know which recommedation someone has to follow when doing hs100?
Are all these sets straight sets?
It will fit in the prescription given in locked and loaded:

Straight Sets

When performing straight sets, you execute one or two warm-up sets then jump right into your working weight, which you maintain for the whole exercise. For example, let?s say that your program calls for 4 x 6-8. You'd do:

1 x 8 @ 90lbs (warm-up)
1 x 8 @ 135lbs (warm-up)
4 x 8 @ 185lbs (work sets)

It?s possible that due to fatigue you won't be able to complete the 8 reps on your last set or two. That?s why the prescription calls for 6-8 reps. I believe in giving a 2 rep "give" when designing a program. If you're in top shape and the program calls for 6 reps but you're able to do 8, isn?t it better to go up to 8? Sure it is!

And if you're tired and are not able to perform the prescribed 8 reps, does it mean that you screwed up your workout? No, as long as you can stay within the 2 rep range you?re fine.

The HSS also calls for 4x6-8 or 2x10-12 and stuff-isn?t that meant to be followed as straight sets?


Like I said check out his HSS-100 log he isnt using straight sets But yes you can and still progress.

say you pick a load for the 6-8 reps for 4 sets and get 8,8,7,6. well next week you simply aim to progress try and get those reps you missed once you can do all of them up the load.

Either will work.

Hell even doing a pyramid down like you showed prior can work as long as you aim to PROGRESS. Raise the level at which you exhaust, do more reps same loads.

I think your making this WAY to damn confusing on yourself.

Best of luck,


Training to failure on each set each training session, isn't the best approach?

I feel like I just opened a cank of worms here. Here comes the bashing.

Here me out.
Some training programs ask to train until failure. Here's where I have a problem with this. If you are training to failure each set and each session, how do you expect to recover from set to set or training session to training session. A lot of these programs are written or promoted by individuals who have a impressive training history and more often then not have an even more impressive "drug" history.

I'm talking about steroids or ergogenic aids. Of course these people can train to failure so often because there recovery period is enhanced. Hance they can get away wioth this and make great results.

Again here comes the bashing from those who disagree with me. Those who don't use ergogenic aids and still make progress.

Yes, you can train to failure and make results. Ask yourself this though? How long will this last? How long can you train so intense and make results? Will this eventually be counterproductive? Meaning how long will it be before the weights go the opposite direction and your strength , training mentality, sleep, appetite all drop.

Wk1. Train nowhere near failure. Focus on technique and tempo. Finish all workouts with the feeling of you cuold have done a lot more.

Wk2. Traing closer to failure, but finish all reps.

Wk3. Go for it! Train with high intensity. It's ok to miss a rep here.

...here comes the bashing