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Hitting Failure for Growth Question


#1

I’ve seen articles and studies that show that hitting failure is a good trigger for muscle growth and strength.

But say for shoulders I did 3x4-6 reps to failure with 185 on the overhead press with 3 minutes rest between sets…

What would be the difference, if any, if I did rest pause where I did 1 set of 4-6 reps with the same weight as the above example to failure, rested 15 seconds, got 3 more reps, rested 15 seconds, got 2 more reps?

In both cases I hit failure a total of 3 different times. But the 1st example has more volume but I don’t think too much as to raise cortisol…

Interested on thoughts on this. Thanks!


#2

I know CT is busy and can’t answer every single question posted on here. But any input from anyone would be appreciated. Thanks


#3

Pretty sure the point of one max effort rest pause set is to fatigue the muscle faster with less overall volume.

One double r/p set with a 4-6 RM could be between 7-11 total reps and you’re done, whereas 3x4-6 to failure is between 12-18 hard reps, requires more cortisol release for energy and it takes 2-3 x longer.

I’ve done it both ways and one max effort R/P set is way more efficient dollar for dollar.


#4

Have you tried all three methods? Be curious to hear how your body has adapted.
I personally respond very well to one or two sets of failure on a major lift.


#5

I think three separate sets to failure is more intense, and also takes longer. If you want more exercises then rest pause is helpful. Also, I like to use a third method. I may take a 10 rep max, do 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps EMOM focusing on feeling the target muscle, and then take 1 final set to failure. You can rest pause that last set too.


#6

Thanks for the responses. Those are good points. I think rest pause would be a better fit for me. I think the act of hitting failure is what triggers growth so rest pause makes more sense because you can hit failure three times in one set as opposed to separate sets and also have less volume in the end


#7

I know CT has written about the role of failure but he has also, IIRC, written not to overdo it. He has said that fatiguing a muscle is an important element, I don’t remember if he said it was the most important element. I’ve used rest/pause in which every set is taken to failure and done it for every workout for that particular exercise, and it worked, but it did catch up to me at some point. What I found worked better for me is to not do that every workout. So I might do the first workout and take every set to failure then the next time save just a little in the tank on each set. I’ll shoot for the same total reps from the previous workout however so I might need to add an extra set to reach those reps. I might do that for a couple of workouts then on the next one just take the final set to failure. In short, I won’t take every set to failure all the time, I might take none to failure, and at some point I’ll repeat the original workout and see if I can hit more reps on the first set and more total reps.


#8

To add to @zecarlo’s post, I switch up the muscles that I train to failure. I’m currently doing full body training so one day I might smoke my pecs and rear delts and later in the week I’ll go to failure on OHP and a variation of pull-downs. I think it spreads the joint stress around a bit better.

For a while I fell in love with the old school 21s rep scheme for arms. I’d do it two to three times a week. Now I’m barely training arms because of biceps tendinitis and cranky elbows (which I’ve never experienced in over 10 years of lifting).

FWIW, I’m still using that rep scheme for my sets to failure. Love it! I change the reps depending on how it feels and I usually do it backwards - - 10 full reps/10 top half/to bottom half with constant tension. I used it on rows and bench today.


#9

If I go back to full body workouts I think I might try that.