T Nation

High Intensity Hypertrophy, Training to Failure?


#1

I want to get my training program set up right so I don’t have to think about it and can just worry about working out and trusting the design of the program.

I like training with high intensity. I’ve seen different studies that show training to failure (which I like doing) is what stimulates hypertrophy. I’ve seen studies where it says 1 set does the job and I’ve seen where some say it takes 3 sets to do it.

If it does take 3 sets would it be useful to do something like:

Bench - 1 set 4-6 reps to technical failure
Incline - 1 set 6-8 reps to technical failure
Dips - 1 set of 6-8 reps to technical failure

In this case 3 sets are to failure but they on different exercises… Or would it be better to do the 3 sets to failure all on one exercise??

Just trying to do my own research so I don’t second guess my workout and can just go train and get stronger and bigger.

Thank you


#2

Go check CT’s blog on Thibarmy, there’s a capsule about training hard that should interest you. The coach recommends, for hypertrophy, that you go to utmost failure on the last set of each exercise. So what you say is good, you should reach failure on the last set of bench, then incline, then dips.

But remember not to reach true failure on o-lifts, squats, deadlifts…


#3

Yea I usually don’t reach true failure on big lifts. But what I’m really asking is how many failure sets does it take to maximally stimulate growth. Is it one all out set? 3 sets? 1 rest pause set where u actually hit failure 3 times in 1??

Just me personally, I don’t see how a 5x5 routine or sometime similar stimulates growth? The fifth set might be hard and have some growth stimulus to it but the first four sets were just a waste of time your body is already strong enough to get the easy reps it’s those last few hard reps that really make the growth occur. That’s why I love intensity


#4

Failure is not the only variable that can stimulate growth.


#5

Going to failure on a big lift is intimidating, painful, and extremely demotivating for me UNLESS i have done a proper ramp/5x5 or “strength/performance” style training prior.

Then the back off set on the compound and/or an assistance exercise done for failure (straight sets) or myoreps, rest pause etc…is incredibly pleasurable, effective, and GROWTH INDUCING.

As a thought experiment say your front squat from box max is 315 lbs (training max) and you want to rep out 225.

You can do the “standard” 3-4 prep sets of 6-8 reps, gradually going up to 225 and then go all out on 225.

Or…you can ramp up in 3-5 reps up to 1 rep on 315…then back off and rep out 225.

The latter feels SO MUCH better…and i bet something happens biologically/physioligcally that makes the growth stimulus much better once your body has “primed” through a heavy/performance ramp up.

ONly time i woudl ever just jump into 3 sets to failure would with more assitance exercie or a machine. Then I could probably just bust out from the get go. But to do that on a barbell lift? No way jose!!


#6

Really there’s no real answer since it would depend on your neurotype, age, genetics, recovery, nutrition etc etc

I think rest-pause counts only as one failure, you then go beyond failure.

5x5 is mainly for strength but it still stimulates growth because of the weight involved: your body adapts to the stress. And as you get stronger it has to follow. But yeah it will be less efficient than bodybuilding work


#7

Failure should not be reached on big compound lifts, especially of the more neurologically demanding type (squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts, push press, etc.). I believe in reaching failure on isolaton and machine work to stimulate maximum hypertrophy with these tools.