T Nation

Moderation in Bodybuilding?


Sounds like a funny subject for a bodybuilding website...but does anyone struggle with this concept?


Failure training. Many authors recommend working within a range of your 1RM and not going to failure. I've always found it difficult to hold back in order to get more volume in. I've always wanted to push 100% and end up reaching failure on all my top sets. If I do purposely hold back, I find it really hard to monitor my progress.



you said that you reach failure on all of your top sets... how is that working out for ya? Are you getting bigger and stronger? If so then who cares if "many authors recommend" not going to failure?


Moderation is bullshit. Extreme results need extreme measures, your body will adapt. Maybe when you're at an advanced level and know your body inside out you can start thinking about this. However if you mention moderation to beginners they'll start doing too little, it's best to avoid using this word. Ever.


Works ok so long as I eat for it. But then you always wonder, am I missing something here, would I get better results? lol

Everywhere I look, people seem to do more moderate intensity and higher volume than I do for bodyparts.


With all of the different training styles, techniques, etc. out there, you can spend your whole life experimenting with different stuff in an effort to find the best way possible. However, you'll have to go through a thousand crap programs/styles that will do nothing but waste your time.

If you're making progress, stick with it. Finding the "best program" out there is a serious waste of time if what you are currently doing is working.


yeah man, moderation is bullshit! Do you wanna have a beer on friday night? FUCK IT! Have 25 beers! yeaaaaah!

You want to do a little cardio? Dont go walk on the treadmill pussy... get out there and do a fucking iron man triathlon! your body will adapt! yeaaaaah!


Im taking a week off starting today because i joints are sore ( always popping , and as i continue to train , new things pop like my chest , and i do go heavy but not too heavy for me , and i use good form so , ill just blame my bad genes for my crappy body )and i want to be fresh for my new , hopefully plateau busting routine. plus i have some shoulder injuries for a long while ig uess.... my left one ( including collar bone ) pops and crack with almost every set and sometimes every other rep in direct shoulder work outs and every rep on pull ups which prevents me from doing very many , no matter how controlled , and other stuff including back(and chest , ... i dont know why but my shoulder hurts even if i use good form. and seems to be the reason i cant bench more or lift heavier for back they even hurt when i do bicep curls?? i dunno why... maybe i clinch or tense up? but its frustrated me to some bad levels. i mean it shouldnt remotely hit my shoulders and i dont swing i use proper form .

anyway my shoulders are just wacked even traditional idiot proof stretches hurt and feel un effective. same with exercises like lat raises , i dont feel it in my shoulder no matter how light the weight and the form i use i feel it more in my traps.... god help me ! i have no shoulders!...and need some by summer... anyway the injuries are in my left shoulder are where my bicep and shoulder meeet , ironically where i get alot of stretch marks and feel a stretch when i bench press , more then in my chest , god my genetics suck!. and in the rear delt area , i must have a pulled tendend or something.. plus god only knows why my collar bone pops , if anyone knows how to correct it? but ya i havent gone to the doc , cuz its sore but not doctor visit sore , unless its lasts longer then a week , anyway.... so since im taking the week off , im still going to do abs , lower back , and legs , because these mucles groups despite my almost 2 years of lifting are areas i never worked out and have only been doing them about 2-3 weeks....

so is working those muslces while on a break a bad idea?

and should i be doing stretches for my shoulders? or should i just leave them alone to heal for the week?

and ofcourse my goal is mass gain , i still have a desire to gain 20-25lbs before i cut , im 183-185 full stomach and want to be like 200 7-9% bf , right now its probably like 15%... so anyway i have reallly crappy endurence and iw ant to do cardio , i was thinking of doing a day or two this week , will cardio inprove my endurence in weight training?.... and should i bother doing it now tho im still bulking , because i wass gunna start doing it 2-3 days a week HIIT training around spring time to be cut for summer ... my desire for it now is hoping it will give me a second wind when im lifting. will it?...... ps , i dunno why but i cant sleep on my shoulders its almost liek the injuries occurred from years of sleeping on my side.... because when i do now its like my body collapses and puts allt he weight on my shoulder


Yeah I wouldn't just change everything because of something I've read. But there are times where I've toyed with volume and sometimes confused myself. Like I said, I do one main work set (the failure set) most of the time, and then some times I'll add an extra set or two. The higher volume periods I do feel fuller, but then strength seems to stagnate.

This is mainly where I'm talking about moderation, because when I increase the volume, I take most sets to failure (likely the reason why strength stagnates). It's hard to explain, but psychologically it's hard to hold back because of the desire to improve on the lift.


I really don't think I've ever met someone in person who practices moderation and has made great progress. Progress, yeah, but not GREAT progress.

I've always found the guys who actually do eat a tonne, live the life of training, and don't fuss about small details are generally the ones that are the biggest and strongest.

I've tried moderation, didn't really work out for me at all. Training short of failure on all sets, very difficult for me to achieve. I think I would almost feel as though I have left my training incomplete if I did it that way. Right now I'm kind of forced to moderate due to having dislocated my elbow no more than 6 weeks ago, but tbh I'm not really enjoying it.


I'm probably the guy who has made progress but not GREAT progress that Teledin is talking about so maybe take what I say with a grain of salt.
I have found I have made my best progress only going to failure on my last set of an exercise. I will usually focus on form and trying to lift explosively on earlier sets and increase the weight each set until my last set and then bust out as many reps as I can on that.

I have found that if I calculate the total pundage I move it is higher when I do this than if I go to failure every set and often my top weight is heavier and feels better too.


Moderation in BBing means not training to failure?


While I would ne ver use the word 'moderation', I would say that not always training to failure has certainly worked for at least as many bodybuilders as going to failure has. I believe that there are advanatages to both approaches, and have made use of both at different times in my years of training.

With that said,... the above comment about newb trainers taking the idea of moderation and using it as a cop-out not to push hard is right on target (ie. How many 140 lb kids started cutting their workouts short for fear of overtaxing their CNS? -lol).

The body adapts, and you have to give it something outside of it's comfort zone to trigger that response. Just last week I found myself telling a client in the gym (not even a 'hardcore' type, just a guy who wants results) that the body doesn't understand weight, or reps, or even time under tension. What the body understands is "Holy Shit this is insanely painful! We'd better protect ourselves for the next time this happens."



Normally I train like you. One set to failure. I don't really think this is moderation though. Basically what Stu described is what I really meant in terms of training. Some people are just too afraid to push to extremes, which in many instances will inhibit potential.

Note I'm not stating it will though!

All in all, my main point concerns nutrition. The vast majority of people are too afraid to accumulate a little chub in order to gain a decent amount of muscle. It's kind of sad, as I am sure some guys who think they have genetic weaknesses will blow up if they just stopped the restrictive bullshit.


Was this a question? All I got from your wall of text was you sound like you are either 70+ years old or you are very new to this.

Perhaps if you posted a thread all your own about yourself with more info and then list your questions...you may get better feedback.


No, just holding back some reps or load in order to get more sets in.

I could lift a load that makes me fail at 10 reps.

Or I could lift that same load (or slightly less) for 5 reps, rest, another 5 reps, rest, another 5 reps...and THEN fail on the last set

Get the point? You are getting more volume in by holding back on the first few sets. This is what I mean by moderation...or you could say pacing it.

I find that my training always gravitates towards HIT - that is, very low volume and high intensity, I can't seem to work with higher volume (which IMO means "moderating" intensity to get more volume in)


It's a vague perspective of a topic really.

You used Failure training as a jumping off point for this thread. I dont believe those two have a direct correlation. 'Failure Training' is just another tool to use. Now if for example someone was using Failure training, Rack pyramiding, Dropsets, then yea i could see that as a bit much.

Some would say moderation is 30-45min in a gym, and when i would tell them i spend over 2 hrs in a gym daily when asked, they would respond with 'but thats insane.'

True cutting- Measuring everything you eat, planning out meals for the day, and eating the same old thing is beyond extreme to any Nonbodybuilder. If stu laid out his Diet plan for a contest prep to any nonbodybuilder, theyd freak out. Carrying around bottles of powders, coolers with chicken breasts, etc. BUT to a bodybuilder, there's nothing EXTREME about it. It is what needs to be done.

Moderation is a term that doesnt exist in bodybuilding. To achieve TRULY EPIC results, one must have an equally epic prep, that includes epic muscle building and epic fat loss. (Epic)(Epic) = Epic^2 = TRULY EPIC


Oh Wait, are you talking about a completely different thing? Just saw your last post-

"just holding back some reps or load in order to get more sets in."

That kinda makes this a different story lol.

Can't really say ive ever attempted what you're talking about tho (your lift/load example).


I think it depends on genetics, anthrompometrics, overall mind-muscle connection, and the specific muscle group.

I have a great MMC and just overall good genetics with my chest and only do ~9-10 sets of benching a week, none of which are to failure, and I am hitting PRs each week. It is also my strongest part.

On the other hand, I found out the hard way (re: spinning my wheels for long time) that my arms respond best to at least some periods of multiple sets to failure. I've been making some really good progress by doing 12-16 sets of 120-200 reps for each biceps and triceps in a single workout and hitting failure on about half those sets.

At least for me, the better the MMC is, the less training to failure it needs.


How long does it take to develop a physique that you can be proud of? 10-20 years?

Moderate--but constant--increases in progression, compounded over this time, will result in an impressive physique.


i've been planning on doing an upper and lower day ramped sets HIT style with 4 exercises max...and then later in the week chest/shoulders/tris and back/bis using straight sets like 3 sets of 6-8 just trying to hit those rep ranges rather than AMAP...

I think both training styles have value....