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How Hard Are Your Workouts?


One thing I'm consistently unclear about in my training it how hard it should be to lift the weight in order to grow.

Example: I can curl 60lb dumbells, probably 2 times with decent form with each arm. After that my form goes to shit. I can do 45s with good form for 8 reps. And alot of times I ahve a hard time deciding what is better.

On the one hand I feel like being able to do 8 reps solidly with correct form is the right way of going about things...I don't always feel like I worked out hard enough. And then on the other hand....I'll do much heavier ewight, but I can get so few reps I don't really feel like I worked that hard cause I barely managed to lift it.

Where is the optimal place for growth...and how tired should you be at th end of a set.

I'm asking this because my lifts have stagnated pretty severely in the past few months, nothing is going up in weight, and I'm wondering what I'm doing wrong. I realize nutrition and alot of otther factors need to be taken into account. Just recently I started eating 4000ish calories, before this I was eating barely 2000 a day. I hope my strength starts to rise with this increase in calories and I'll be curling 80s soont enough (no curling fixation just a good example). Ideas? I'm currently a bit over 200 with probably 13-14%bf, but I'm also 6'4".


If I may be so bold...

Do whatever you find fun.

Maybe some one arm DB snatches for weight. Vary your routine, and try something you haven't done before.

After about a month of that, go back to your routine. You'll be surprised at what you find.

Just a thought...


just remember that you want to perform EVERYTHING with good form...therein lies your answer!!!


Well, I think you're really asking about how many reps you should be performing. If this is true, then you should also state your goals, are you looking go get hyoooge or freaky strong, or rediculously ripped... Excuse me if you did in fact state your goals and I just missed them. But, if you really want more information about how many reps you should be doing and at what intensity, read around in the archives, then if you still need help, state your goals. And like others have said in this thread, you should perform EVERY rep with good form.

Hope it helps,


I feel that intensity is the key to growth but as The set rep bible points out you can vary your set rep combos based on your desired results.
I did something new yesterday and I feel it has made a definite progress in causing the muscles to be worked very hard although I know that my biceps are not nearly fully recovered just 24 hours later they are much harder now than they have ever been , and even a little sore.
I used a curl machine and set the weight to about an 80% 1RM max with both arms and then I lowered it slowly with one arm. Lifted it back up and did the same with the other. I managed about 6 reps with each arm before it wasnt possible to lower it controlled anylonger. I did two more all out attempts. I guess you could call that a Neg till failure.
I also did the same with the Tricep push down... push down with both arms and then let it back up slowly with one
then I also did the leg press the same way 400 pounds with both legs and then lower it slowly with one.
I know you cant do that kind of intensity but just so often depending on the rest and sleep you get but it definitley lets you feel that you have done enough to cause some good growth.
Hope this helps.


I can relate to this as I used to think the best workouts were the ones where I puked.
Experiencing pain and getting bigger/stronger is not a cause/effect thing. So don't expect a more painful workout to cause faster progress.

However . . . some of the best workout routines will also happen to be damn painful. If you like the painful kind and are looking to get bigger as well as stronger, I say go with EDT


Two TOTALLY different questions, the first one being good, and the second one not as good.

Someone WAAAAY more smarter [intentional] than me says this:
"Manage fatigue, don't seek it."
(First one to guess the author gets a spanking - your screen name must be southerngirl, karma, or gymgoddess to participate.)

Your goal is to get stronger and bigger. Monitor progress by performance and not fatigue or soreness. This may sound really simple, because it is. Yet most of us somehow totally overlook it.

I'm no expert, but ... try something different. Ever tried sets of 3 for curls? Sets of 2? Sets of 20? Reverse curls? Power curls? The options are endless. Of course this doesn't mean that they will all work, but what you are doing now is not either, so what have you to lose?



[Someone WAAAAY more smarter [intentional] than me says this:
"Manage fatigue, don't seek it."
(First one to guess the author gets a spanking - your screen name must be southerngirl, karma, or gymgoddess to participate.)


I'm none of the above but the pen to that phrase belongs to none other than CW in Hybrid Hypertrophy. I prefer a paddle, ridding crop or ruler, but you don't get the honors.

Back to the original question. I vary the days I lift to fatigue based upon my energy and plans for the week. I work odd hours, lately Monday is the day I hit it hard and heavy.

Superset Squats 5 X 5 125 and step ups 5 X 10 w/ 50, standing calf raises 3 X 12 w/25 (my calves are big enough) and Ham curls (whatever you want to call them) 4 X 10 w/60 slow tempo. Dips, bent rows, close grip bench, wide grip bench, L-seat, Lunges, DLs for fun, serratus crunch, and some other ab stuff. This is the day I hit everything I am currently working on and hit it hard and heavy. Then I go run 8.8K.

It's a long day, but I know I will not be near the gym for another 48-72 hours so, I have plenty of time for recovery. Then I go back to the usual split body parts routine usually lighter weights and shorter runs.

I have basically bastardized a couple programs around here to target specific areas. Then the other 3 days I stick to something more normal. I can't say how it is working yet as I have only started this in the last 2 weeks.

Short answer is experiment and see what works for you.


As it has been said before, focus on doing what needs to be done to reach your goals, not on your personal perception of fatigue. If it is hard, push through, if it is easy, good for you.

Regarding "what needs to be done", the easiest way to ascertain this is to choose a program from this site which meets your goals. Follow the parameters. The programs are conceived to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of trainees, so it should work out fine.


well ... firstly, how ever could i forget you ... oh well, your loss ;]

secondly, eghhhhhhh [big buzzer sound] ... incorrect. CW might have said it, but i got $ that says he ripped it off from a friend of his ... contest STILL open



Until you train long enough to understand that cheating has a place.


My goals right now are to get huge. I currently bench 210 (sad) and alot of my lifts are shit. I want to bench 300 by Christmas. That's one of my big goals. I'd say I want a good mix of hypertrophy and strength.


Hm, I could've swore that it was Charles Staley who first coined that phrase, at least on T-Mag. I believe I first read it in "The Things We Leanrned" compilation article, about 3 years ago; and it is the basis of his EDT program.

Anyway, it is probably one of the best pieces of advice that could be given regarding training in general.


I know who does. :slight_smile:


Yep. I agree.

My biceps are my weakest muscle group. I hate training them because they don't grow.

But in the last three weeks, I have made them grow by using very heavy cheat curls for low reps. They work.

Cheating does have its place, along with drop sets, training to failure, etc.


Nate, have you had any benefits from using reverse-grip curls while trying to build the biceps?



All I can say is that you are indeed the biggest dumbass I've ever seen.

WTF? Omitting 911Girl? And as a result missing out on what would have undoubtedly been an experience of a lifetime? If you're not kicking yourself right now - you should be.


I know who said it... but I'm not saying as I am not allowed to participate.


See BFG? Why name names? Dumbass!!


SicTorn, I'm sure there are a whole load of T-guys who will volunteer to spank you if BFG isn't willing.