T Nation

Purpose of 'Burn Out' Sets in PL?


Sorry if this is a silly question. I searched the site for burn-out sets, and I have seen them mentioned and used, but no explanation as to why.

I'm by no means any expert in the powerlifting game, but where I've been training, often at the end of a Max Effort exercise we'll do a burn-out set of something like 50-75% of 1RM x 10 or to failure of the same exercise.

I could understand this from a bodybuilding perspective but not from a powerlifting one. I asked why we do this and no one had a really decent explanation so I turn to you guys. Enlighten me, please!


This could be done to add a bit of volume to the session. Usually (RE) work means more than one set.


I am a beginner been only training for a year so im no expert. BUt for me personally i make better gains when i add volume. I just started 5/3/1 in dec with the boring but big assistance because my progress had stalled and the 5X10 has really helped me. For the longest i was just going heavy all the time but i really like going heavy followed by alot of reps.



increased hypertrophy, increase work capacity


I do this often for a few reaons:

  1. My arms (triceps) need size and strength
  2. The extra volume makes ME work not as stressful
  3. Absolutely destroying every weak fiber with one burn out set, then going straight into a strength building exercise (like doing 1 rep max set with moderate dumbbells and then going for a new 6rm on JM Presses) builds tremendous strength and forces you to use fibers that arent normally recruited.


I don't see any reason to put in a burnout set in any program that is powerlifting related. Burning out is just that, burning yourself out and trying to catch up to recover for the next training day.

On another note I do find that I occasionally enjoy a good rep challenge with my training partners, just to do stupid things.

The last do stupid things day most of us were attempting a board press comp. We were doing 3 sets of 3brd, 2brd, 1brd, then back up again for three sets without stopping. We just kept upping the weight until we started dropping out.

We sometimes like to do deads for sets of 5 alternating sumo,conventional until we die. There is always the squat rep challenges as well.

Does nothing except kill us, but it is good fun at the end of a workout to just fool around and push each other.


Doesn't that take away some weight from your other exercise(s), though?



Sounds about right, if you want to do extra work there are more productive ways but what's lifting if you can't have fun doing it


It absolutely does. Training shouldn't be set up to just be awesome at training. Training should be set up to work on the things you suck at. 'Burning out' then going to strength work builds a ton of work capacity.

For example, my last ME bench day I hit a PR on reverse band bench, then benched 315 for 23 with a close grip, then 13 for with a wide grip, then I went straight to JM presses and hit a 3 rep record with 250. My triceps didnt even get sore. This shit pays off down the road.


Growing versus Showing




Its flawless!