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How Does One Progress When Not Training to Failure?


I recently did a high volume training program and to progress I forced my self to push through to do additional reps. This lead to over-training after a couple of weeks with minimal results!

Now I want do to the same but not go to failure all the time. So how do I progress when I’m not pushing myself past my previous reps from previous training session since I’m avoiding failure?

Can anyone explain ? :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance!

It’s not an all or nothing scenario. You will still progress if you leave some reps in the tank.

You progress by following a proven program with a progression built into it. If you can’t find anything just go with 5/3/1.

Two things:

  1. No one becomes ‘overtrained’ in only a couple of weeks. Sore and/or achy, sure. But not overtrained.
  2. A couple of weeks in not nearly enough time to assess results. Or put another way, every program on the planet produces ‘minimal results’ after a couple of weeks.

I once saw a article in menshealth magazine with a 4 week beach body article.

You spend 2 weeks building all the mass and 2 weeks trimming down.

Are you saying that’s a lie?!?


Set a weight for your high rep scheme say start with 50% of 1 rpm. Then if you hit all sets and all reps up the weight next time. Same thing through the block of training until done. I did GVT 10x10 for 60 days.
My bench started with 95x10 reps for 10 sets. When I got done I was 145 10x10. And was ready for 155 but thank God the training block ended.

The block worked like this
1-3 big lifts of 10x10
5-8 auxiliary lifts of 6-8x10
When you hit your rep/weight for a given week up the weight the next time

I ate like a beast and packed on a ton of muscle mass. 8-10lbs.

Not a lie, just a misprint. What they intended to write was that you spend 2 years building all the mass and 2 years trimming down.

I’m sure it was an honest mistake on their part, because there’s no way they’d intentionally tout such a ludicrously unrealistic program like that.


You just start with a set rep/rep range which is fairly well within your capabilities & work your way up…so: 5x5 @ 75% of your max could be an example of this.

I was doing Arnolds Basic Training Program Level I which was a shit ton of volume,
I intent to do it again but this time I’ve decreased the volume and wont go to failure all the time like a did previously.

I do the exercises 3-4 sets with 12,10,8,8 reps, increasing weight for the first 3 sets.

For the sake of the argument lets say I benched 3 sets for 10,9,9 reps while staying 1 rep shy of failure. Next session I want to progress, will I then be stronger and do say 10,10,9 while still staying 1 rep shy of failure? “In my head” I think I will need to push myself to get more reps and thus going to failure to get that extra rep or reps :S

I did GVT a couple of months back and indeed I got good results!
I liked the simplicity of it and going all out on every session, feeling the excruciating burn was like a receipt for gauranteed gainz :smiley:

I’ve tried some other high volume programs for 6-7 weeks each, but sometimes get a bit confused on how hard I should hit the weights, how often to go to failure or not going to failure at all!

Think I will give Arnolds Basic Training Level 1 another go for 8w without going to failure all the time and dropping the volume a bit, and if that doesn’t get me good result I will probably do GVT again :slight_smile:

You need to learn to judge RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) for a set. Google it. It’s basically a numeric value you give to the difficulty of a set. A RPE of 7 would mean you have 3 reps left to failure, an 8 means 2 reps, etc. So if you always try to stop a set at 8, if you get more reps in, or more weight lifted for the same reps, you have made progress.

4 years? Ain’t nobody got time for that.


I did Arnold Basic Training Level 1, 6 days a week for 4 weeks, with a lot of volume, I pretty much went to failure all the time. I will give it another go, but this time, reduce volume and avoid failure.

I know 4 weeks it’s not a long time for assessing progress, but I compared it with previous results I’ve had for example doing GVT for 4 weeks which gave me 3-4 times better results (took measurements).

Training to failure on moderation with isolation exercises and most machines is fine, I think that’s fairly well accepted and shouldn’t lead to any great level of fatigue…

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If training to rate of perceived exertion is not an option, I highly recommend 5/3/1, with something like 5’s progression. A very good starting place for beginner/intermediate.

If I wouldn’t take all the sets of that program to failure even on 1g of testosterone if I were you.