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Legs are More 'Failure-Proof' Than Upper Body?

Do you guys find that when you’re near failure on a leg exercise, you can almost always force out your required reps, seemingly by sheer force of will - HOWEVER - when you think you’re near failure on an upper body exercise, you usually actually are, and when you try to force another rep, it just doesn’t work?

This is what I’ve found, and my theory is that the legs are are larger muscle group so they have more reserves and are ‘safer’ from complete muscle failure than the upper body…

Do you guys find the same when training?

indeed. also, if you’re squatting, being crushed is a great motivator

interestingg enough i do find this to be true epecially on leg press and deadlifts. The only upper body exercise for myself that i can usually always eek out more is pullups

If I could grind out bench reps like I can squats, I would be a lot stronger on bench lol

Yes. Although, I’m not sure I believe your theory. Another idea is that there’s something to the fact that legs stimulate a major hormonal response, and something (adrenaline?) starts kicking in when you’re trying to force more reps on legs, and doesn’t for upper body work. That’s just a guess.

That used to be true for me and OHP was the worst culprit. I couldn’t grind it up at all.

Then I spent a while focusing on heavy OHPing and now it’s the same as squats, I can always force out another rep.

[quote]Blackaggar wrote:
interestingg enough i do find this to be true epecially on leg press and deadlifts. The only upper body exercise for myself that i can usually always eek out more is pullups[/quote]

haha, nope, that ain’t true for me at all on pullups.

If I felt very tired on the way down, there is no way I’m coming back up for the next rep

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
indeed. also, if you’re squatting, being crushed is a great motivator [/quote]

haha, I reckon that’s probably it. Nothing more embarrassing then having to crawl out from under the safeties

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
indeed. also, if you’re squatting, being crushed is a great motivator [/quote]

haha, I reckon that’s probably it. Nothing more embarrassing then having to crawl out from under the safeties[/quote]

Then how come it doesn’t work on bench?

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
indeed. also, if you’re squatting, being crushed is a great motivator [/quote]

haha, I reckon that’s probably it. Nothing more embarrassing then having to crawl out from under the safeties[/quote]

I had to drop a front squat the other day. Apparently getting crushed was not enough to ‘motivate’ me to lift the weight. I’ve also dropped plenty of back squats.

I think people are more willing to sacrifice depth on a squat if they’re worried about completing the rep. That’s what I tend to see in the gym at least. Since I take all my squats to full depth, I don’t end up giving myself that option.

Not sure. I can grind like a motherfucker on the OHP. I’m probably more likely to cut a squat set short if I think my back is caving too much, and putting my lower back at risk.

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
indeed. also, if you’re squatting, being crushed is a great motivator [/quote]

haha, I reckon that’s probably it. Nothing more embarrassing then having to crawl out from under the safeties[/quote]

I had to drop a front squat the other day. Apparently getting crushed was not enough to ‘motivate’ me to lift the weight. I’ve also dropped plenty of back squats.

I think people are more willing to sacrifice depth on a squat if they’re worried about completing the rep. That’s what I tend to see in the gym at least. Since I take all my squats to full depth, I don’t end up giving myself that option.[/quote]

100% this

Edit: Also a lot easier to sacrifice form on squats and still move the weight from point A to point B, if you don’t mind GMing the weight up or something along those lines.

Also, worth mentioning - I think it is easier to rest between reps on a squat set (if you lock-out) then, say, any other exercise - hence another reason why one might be able to crank them out easier

Think about it…what do we do all day? Walk on our hands? No. Our legs are built for endurance…they can generate more force in a state of hypoxia.

You’re also 100% correct about them being much larger muscle group.

Theres a reason its 20 rep Squats.

They definitely do SEEM to be able to respond better to that “one more rep” mental cue than say, a bench press, where you just get pinned no matter what. The Squat is also much more of a full body movement, and you are bringing your ENTIRE body into play when you do them at that kind of intensity.

Before we had machines; before we had donkeys and horses to carry everything around for us we were pack animals by nature. If you like the idea of evolution, you have to consider one never made the next generation if one’s legs gave out.

The one problem with going to absolute failure on legs, or for that matter any body part, is how long can you keep it up. I assume we’re talking true failure, throw up, possibly pass out after you just barely rack the weight failure. Not failure to preform any more reps with good controlled form. Even genetic superiors on steroids have severely limit the number of sets when using this intensity. At least when bashing your chest into submission with incline presses with true failure you barely use the rest of your body and can recuperate within a weeks time. True failure squats or leg exercises leave you waking up in the morning, numb, painful, wondering how your going to get the the toilet. Then you have to shit shower and shave.

I could only do it for 6-8 weeks at a stint when I was raging with teenage puberty hormones and even then it was borderline doing too much. Any longer and I would get weaker. If that is 95% intensity (lets be honest no one has ever reached their full potential) then I believe somewhere around 85% intensity is key to growth. You can reasonably go to failure every session if your a genetic superior on “supplements”. That’s being generous with the term

[quote]alternate wrote:
Do you guys find that when you’re near failure on a leg exercise, you can almost always force out your required reps, seemingly by sheer force of will - HOWEVER - when you think you’re near failure on an upper body exercise, you usually actually are, and when you try to force another rep, it just doesn’t work?

This is what I’ve found, and my theory is that the legs are are larger muscle group so they have more reserves and are ‘safer’ from complete muscle failure than the upper body…

Do you guys find the same when training?[/quote]

If you find this to be the case go break a squat record. The average person is just willing to push max weight on a bench, while getting crushed under it is no fun reps of close to your max in bench requires far less mental fortitude then reps of squat…I think your theory still has some grounds, the reserves you reference are really just slow twitch fibers that all get used when you have no choice. Other than that for people that train hard legs give out all the time. I’ve seen cramping, tendon ruptures, muscle pulls.

[quote]ElevenMag wrote:
Before we had machines; before we had donkeys and horses to carry everything around for us we were pack animals by nature. If you like the idea of evolution, you have to consider one never made the next generation if one’s legs gave out.[/quote]
Whether or not someone believes in evolution is not important. You don’t even have to like it, it is happening, inescapably.

And ultimately, that’s why it is our species’ intellectual prowess, not our physical prowess that has led to our surmounting the majority of selection pressures.

Maybe you are better at activating the muscles on upper body exercises rather than lower body exercises.

So when you think you are at failure on bench press you actually are - everything is firing 100% and the weight isn’t going to move.

But when you squat you are only firing at 80% - but that extra rep or two comes from the bits of the muscle that aren’t being fully activated but that will fire under extreme pressure anyway.

(obviously you are never going to use 100% of available muscle mass but you get the idea).

Or your legs are just less trained or bigger so progress is easier or have a higher strength potential level.

e.g. if you squat 3x5 and bench 3x5 a week you are going to stop being able to meet the required reps on bench weeks before you can’t meet the reps on squats.

You’re much more stable with a bar on the back and two feet planted firmly on the ground than when holding a bar at arms length. And of course it’s easier to cheat.

[quote]hastalles wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
indeed. also, if you’re squatting, being crushed is a great motivator [/quote]

haha, I reckon that’s probably it. Nothing more embarrassing then having to crawl out from under the safeties[/quote]

Then how come it doesn’t work on bench?[/quote]

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