T Nation

Managing Fatigue


#1

I have a question about fatigue/muscular endurance. I am more or less a beginner, and I typically do straight sets to failure or near failure (one reps left "in the tank"). My goal is building muscle first, and strength second.

My problem is that I take a given weight, lets say 275 for squats or 225 for bench, and I try for 5 sets of 8-10 reps. I will get 10 reps on the first set, then 8 on second, and then there is ALWAYS a huge drop in my reps. To like 4, then 3 and 3 again. I tend to take 60-90 second rests since I am training for size.

Is this as simple as going to failure or near failre on my first set or two? When I do something like 70% of 1RM for "______" reps, I always feel like I'm not getting anything out of it, since I could do 2-3 more easy. And I am truely calculating my 1RM (or 90% of 1RM).

Another exercise I have huge fatigue/endurance issues is pull-ups. I can do 12 strict ones. But next set is always about 8, then it goes down to 5!

Can anyone give advice? I was going to post this in the beginners section, but I don't want "the blind leading the blind".

thanks in advance.


#2

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
I have a question about fatigue/muscular endurance. I am more or less a beginner, and I typically do straight sets to failure or near failure (one reps left “in the tank”). My goal is building muscle first, and strength second.

My problem is that I take a given weight, lets say 275 for squats or 225 for bench, and I try for 5 sets of 8-10 reps. I will get 10 reps on the first set, then 8 on second, and then there is ALWAYS a huge drop in my reps. To like 4, then 3 and 3 again. I tend to take 60-90 second rests since I am training for size.

Is this as simple as going to failure or near failre on my first set or two? When I do something like 70% of 1RM for “______” reps, I always feel like I’m not getting anything out of it, since I could do 2-3 more easy. And I am truely calculating my 1RM (or 90% of 1RM).

Another exercise I have huge fatigue/endurance issues is pull-ups. I can do 12 strict ones. But next set is always about 8, then it goes down to 5!

Can anyone give advice? I was going to post this in the beginners section, but I don’t want “the blind leading the blind”.

thanks in advance.[/quote]

that’s going to happen if you are going near failure on your first set or two.

you could try to find a middle like how I do.

When I up the weight on a lift I’ll come in and do 3 sets of 8 then the next time I lift I’ll do 3 sets of 9 or 10 if I feel like I’m up to it and by the time I can do 3x10 I’ll up the weight and start back at 3x8.


#3

So one your first set or two, is it “normal” for the set to feel more like a hard warm up? It’s just I’m so used to going to failure or near failure, it just feels like you are not working hard if you stop when you could do 3 more 3 reps.

I guess it’s just a mentality thing that’s hard to break.


#4

I’ll just give some of my experience, but to be fair, I am training for strength “first” and size “second.”

Once you start getting heavier in your exercises, sets will begin to take a lot more out of you. For things like squats and bench, 70% of my max is a lot more taxing overall than 70% of my max on something like curls. It seems like if I am doing sets of 10 for that stuff, I need to either take more rest or have to go lighter.

Besides, since you are not training for strength first, wouldn’t it be best to just lower the weight to ensure that you get all your reps?


#5

Five sets is a great deal of ‘near failure’ work on a specific station at a specific weight.


#6

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
I have a question about fatigue/muscular endurance. I am more or less a beginner, and I typically do straight sets to failure or near failure (one reps left “in the tank”). My goal is building muscle first, and strength second.

My problem is that I take a given weight, lets say 275 for squats or 225 for bench, and I try for 5 sets of 8-10 reps. I will get 10 reps on the first set, then 8 on second, and then there is ALWAYS a huge drop in my reps. To like 4, then 3 and 3 again. I tend to take 60-90 second rests since I am training for size.

Is this as simple as going to failure or near failre on my first set or two? When I do something like 70% of 1RM for “______” reps, I always feel like I’m not getting anything out of it, since I could do 2-3 more easy. And I am truely calculating my 1RM (or 90% of 1RM).

Another exercise I have huge fatigue/endurance issues is pull-ups. I can do 12 strict ones. But next set is always about 8, then it goes down to 5!

Can anyone give advice? I was going to post this in the beginners section, but I don’t want “the blind leading the blind”.

thanks in advance.[/quote]

Realize that by by utilizing relatively short rest intervals, you will never truly give the muscle a chance to replenish its energy stores with respect to the anaerobic/lactic acid system. Likewise you will not be as neurally efficient.

This will reduce performance on subsequent sets. However with respect to training for size, this is not a bad thing. The short rest intervals will enable you to keep a high training density (more work in a given time frame).

Some solutions/options:

1- Decrease the poundage on your subsequent sets. Ex- 225x10, 215x10, 205x10…This way you can experience more time under load and accumulate more volume while keeping the training density high.

2- On the first exercise (ex: pull-ups) take a longer rest interval between sets, like 2-3 minutes. Your repetition performance will increase on the other sets just by virtue of better energy replenishment. Then, with other exercises that follow, use the shorter rest intervals and apply the above weight drop method on your subsequent sets.

3- Don’t go balls-to-wall on your first set. Stop the set with a rep or two left in you. Since your rest intervals are short, you will really have to work progressively harder as fatigue sets in on the remaining sets. If you stop all sets shy of failure, you will find that you can perform higher reps on all the sets eventually.


#7

Thanks for the responses.

Is there any difference between these two models:

3 sets of Bench

10 @ 225 lbs
10 @ 215 lbs
10 @ 205 ilb

OR

10 @ 205
10 @ 215
10 @ 225


#8

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
Thanks for the responses.

Is there any difference between these two models:

3 sets of Bench

10 @ 225 lbs
10 @ 215 lbs
10 @ 205 ilb

OR

10 @ 205
10 @ 215
10 @ 225

[/quote]

Model #1-

  • The descending weight/rep scheme is optimal if you are keeping your your rest intervals short. You will have a greater chance of hitting these poundages for sets of 10.

Model #2-

  • The ascending weight/rep scheme will be challenging especially if coupled with the short rest intervals. The only way to hit those 3 sets for 10 while resting briefly and going up in weight would be if your strength capacity with 225 was really in the neighborhood of 14-15 reps. If your true 10rm is 225, you’ll get 10 reps easily at 205, 10 tougher reps at 215 and less than 10 (possibly 6-8) reps at 225 if your rest interval stays short.

With hypertrophy being the goal I would focus more on Model #1.

With respect to Model #2, if you are targeting a peak/work weight at 225lbs, then don’t fatigue yourself with 10 rep sets at 205 and 215. Instead do this - 135 x 5, 185 x 3, 205 x 1, 215 x 1, then do all your work sets with 225 stopping a rep or two shy of failure for 3-5 sets. Or hit 225 then apply Model #1 and descend in poundage on the subsequent sets.


#9

[quote]NorCal916 wrote:
Thanks for the responses.

Is there any difference between these two models:

3 sets of Bench

10 @ 225 lbs
10 @ 215 lbs
10 @ 205 ilb

OR

10 @ 205
10 @ 215
10 @ 225

[/quote]

I know a lot of people who work with that 2nd model… its called ramping sets but getting 10 at all 3 might not happen. Say you were trying to get like 3x8-12 on bench. With your example you might go:

12x205
11x215
8x225

With this you would just try to improve from workout to workout by adding reps till you get to 12 reps on each set then add weight to the top set and work at adding reps again


#10

Solid Solid information above.

I’ve struggled with this same concept, but I’ve learned to manage it being a percentage mathematician. :stuck_out_tongue: In time I think auto-regulation will work but for now this approach works.

So besides using pyramid sets, wave loading, and even reducing the amount of actual working sets with more warm-up sets, try to use your 12RM as your load for the 8-10 range, your 10RM for your 6-8 range, etc, etc…

Basically 65%-70% of 1RM is most people’s 12RM. So do 8-10 reps even if you have a few in the tank on the first set, by the last set pretty sure you’ll get a failure set in. And as described earlier go for a rep record every week until its time to move up in weight (all sets you hit 12).


#11

Thanks for the advice. I think I just struggle with leaving reps in the tank. I tell myself I am not working hard enough or using heavy enough weight. I think it’s just a bad habit I have to break, since my progress has been minimal at best.


#12

why are people so concerned with hitting the same # of reps as their first set?

like if you do 8/4/2 with 1 minute rests vs 8/8/8 with 5 minute rests, it doesn’t mean the 2nd one is better, they each have different effects on body.

in the first one you are using your 8RM in the second one you might be using your 10RM or something, but in the first one you hit failure 3x, second one you might not hit failure once

just base your progression on something else, like total # of reps, or # of reps on first set