T Nation

Routine and FAILURE Help!


#1

*****MONDAY=Chest/Bis
Bench 3x6-12 maybe a drop set of light weight for a bunch of reps
Incline 3x6-12
Flies 3x8-15
Dips 3x amap
BB curls 3x6-12
Hammers 3x6-12
Preachers 3x6-12

I posted my routine below, dont know how good it is. But my main concern is the debated issue of going to failure, currently I go to failure EVERY set and EVERY excersise. I dont increase the weight I just keep it the same and do 3-4 sets to failure....usually like 10,8,6,4. But would it be better to do like 4x8 where only the Last set is hard?

*****WEDNESDAY=Legs/Shoulders
Squat 3x6-12
Lunges 3x 15 steps
Leg Curls 3x6-12
Miltiary seated Press 4x6-12
Lat Raises 3x8-15
Cable Uprights 3x6-12

*****FRIDAY=Back/Tris
Deads 4x6-12
Rows 3x6-12
Uprights 3x6-12
LatpullDowns 3x6-12
Cable Pulldowns 3x6-12
Rope overhead pulls 3x6-12
DIPS AGAIN?????


#2

Please, learn some common sense.

There’s step number one for your new, improved routine.


#3

The first question to ask is has failure training helped you build muscle and strength? If it has, no need to change anything. But my guess is its not, because why else would you make this post and emphasize FAILURE in the title?

Do not go to failure for every set. You are going to run yourself into the ground, or probably already have.

You are not going to be able to recover from workout to workout to make such gains. leaving the last set for failure would drastically reduce strain and stress on the body.

I would save the last set for failure.


#4

Dude, if you train to failure, you don’t do it on every set. You go to failure on the last set of each exercise only.


#5

In my opinion, “going to failure” is one of the most screwed-up catchphrases in bodybuilding.

First, it is ordinarily used not according to the meaning of the words.

How often do you see a person who claims to “train to failure” fail?

The word “fail” meaning, attempting but not succeeding.

Now some beginners who fall into the HIT methodology actually do take the phrase literally and keep attempting reps until the weight get stuck and they strain mightily against it and sometimes it starts moving again, and if so they continue the set, and at some point ultimately all the striving in the world doesn’t move the weight: failure has occurred. That actually is training to failure.

However for anyone who has developed much strength this is a terrible way to train: it burns out the nervous system and prevents doing very much work at all.

So most don’t do that. Instead they succeed in lifting every rep that they actually do – they don’t fail during the set – but decide that if they tried another rep they probably would fail at it, and they call this “training to failure” because that’s trendy, don’cha know, and they read somewhere that you have to “train to failure,” so that’s what they need to call what they are doing.

Of course then you get the heroes who – though in fact they don’t fail at any point – let you know that they don’t just train to failure, why, they train BEYOND FAILURE, don’cha know.

The problems go beyond this: that is just the start of it.

Doing the most reps you can in your final work set – which might be the only work set after warmups, if warmups were needed – is a fine approach. But failure as a goal is not.


#6

Your MAIN concern should be that you do nine sets of biceps work and three sets of squats a week…

How about you throw the whole thing out and go google Starting Strength. I’m going to assume that by the nature of your post you haven’t been training seriously for a long period of time. You would make MUCH more substantial gains in both size and strength by doing more squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses… and less curls, flyes, leg curls, lat raises, cable upright rows, cable overhead pulls, etc. etc.


#7

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
In my opinion, “going to failure” is one of the most screwed-up catchphrases in bodybuilding.

First, it is ordinarily used not according to the meaning of the words.

How often do you see a person who claims to “train to failure” fail?

The word “fail” meaning, attempting but not succeeding.

Now some beginners who fall into the HIT methodology actually do take the phrase literally and keep attempting reps until the weight get stuck and they strain mightily against it and sometimes it starts moving again, and if so they continue the set, and at some point ultimately all the striving in the world doesn’t move the weight: failure has occurred. That actually is training to failure.

However for anyone who has developed much strength this is a terrible way to train: it burns out the nervous system and prevents doing very much work at all.

So most don’t do that. Instead they succeed in lifting every rep that they actually do – they don’t fail during the set – but decide that if they tried another rep they probably would fail at it, and they call this “training to failure” because that’s trendy, don’cha know, and they read somewhere that you have to “train to failure,” so that’s what they need to call what they are doing.

Of course then you get the heroes who – though in fact they don’t fail at any point – let you know that they don’t just train to failure, why, they train BEYOND FAILURE, don’cha know.

The problems go beyond this: that is just the start of it.

Doing the most reps you can in your final work set – which might be the only work set after warmups, if warmups were needed – is a fine approach. But failure as a goal is not.[/quote]

Somewhat depends on the exercise/situation though.

I actually go to failure when way doing DB bench (meaning I actually attempt a rep and wind up failing to complete it) because I know that I’m not going to get stuck under the weight.

I would never do that with BB bench though because of saftey reasons (I don’t want a heavy barbell stuck on my chest and not be able to press it off). If I always had a reliable spotter, maybe I would, but I don’t.

So, you have to use common sense and determine when it is safe to actually got to failure and when it’s not.

If it’s safe to go to failure, I do (and most who claim to do as well), if it’s not, I don’t (nor do most who claim to). But I’d agree that it’s more a matter of the intensity that you put into your training that matters and not whether you actually try a rep and fail at it.


#8

[quote]Benway wrote:
Your MAIN concern should be that you do nine sets of biceps work and three sets of squats a week…

How about you throw the whole thing out and go google Starting Strength. I’m going to assume that by the nature of your post you haven’t been training seriously for a long period of time. You would make MUCH more substantial gains in both size and strength by doing more squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses… and less curls, flyes, leg curls, lat raises, cable upright rows, cable overhead pulls, etc. etc.[/quote]

?

I really want to see the development on you guys who actively AVOID isolation movements, especially curls and lateral raises.

You avoid those if you want lagging arms and shoulders.


#9

[quote]Professor X wrote:

?

I really want to see the development on you guys who actively AVOID isolation movements, especially curls and lateral raises.

You avoid those if you want lagging arms and shoulders. [/quote]

While I definitely understand your perspective and appreciate your knowledge, does it seem like the OP is an advanced trainee? I realize I’m making an assumption about his training experience, and I might be wrong, but I think you’re missing the point that he’s doing more sets of curls than squats and deadlifts combined. I think at this stage in his training, he’d benefit more from squats, deadlifts, pushes, and pulls.

I also once trained very similar to this, with more sets of curls than squats. It got me nowhere.

I admit I’m also thinking of this more in funtional terms and less in aesthetic terms, but that’s just where my bias lies.


#10

[quote]Benway wrote:
Professor X wrote:

?

I really want to see the development on you guys who actively AVOID isolation movements, especially curls and lateral raises.

You avoid those if you want lagging arms and shoulders.

While I definitely understand your perspective and appreciate your knowledge, does it seem like the OP is an advanced trainee? I realize I’m making an assumption about his training experience, and I might be wrong, but I think you’re missing the point that he’s doing more sets of curls than squats and deadlifts combined. I think at this stage in his training, he’d benefit more from squats, deadlifts, pushes, and pulls.

I also once trained very similar to this, with more sets of curls than squats. It got me nowhere.

I admit I’m also thinking of this more in funtional terms and less in aesthetic terms, but that’s just where my bias lies.[/quote]

Why do you and those like you assume that when one of us says do not avoid curls that this means train with curls more than anything else? Is the comprehension level on this site that dull?

I did curls from the very fucking beginning. Guess what happened? My arms blew the fuck up and I still have stretch marks from that period.

If you want to look anything like a serious weightlifter/bodybuilder, train EVERY FUCKING THING.

The fact that you even wrote the term “functional” with a straight face tells me what level you are on.


#11

Yes, I didn’t mean to say it should never be done (to continue sets until an attempted rep actually is failed, despite true effort to complete it. As opposed to just deciding to at that point let a spotter help, though if he were to scream “FUCK YOU, BITCH!” and storm off, you actually probably could finish the rep with blood and guts effort. Those that routinely end sets this way – oh, I need a spot now – generally really are not failing, especially if they do any substantial volume of work.)

But rather that doing EVERY set to actual failure has its problems and limitations.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Bill Roberts wrote:
In my opinion, “going to failure” is one of the most screwed-up catchphrases in bodybuilding.

First, it is ordinarily used not according to the meaning of the words.

How often do you see a person who claims to “train to failure” fail?

The word “fail” meaning, attempting but not succeeding.

Now some beginners who fall into the HIT methodology actually do take the phrase literally and keep attempting reps until the weight get stuck and they strain mightily against it and sometimes it starts moving again, and if so they continue the set, and at some point ultimately all the striving in the world doesn’t move the weight: failure has occurred. That actually is training to failure.

However for anyone who has developed much strength this is a terrible way to train: it burns out the nervous system and prevents doing very much work at all.

So most don’t do that. Instead they succeed in lifting every rep that they actually do – they don’t fail during the set – but decide that if they tried another rep they probably would fail at it, and they call this “training to failure” because that’s trendy, don’cha know, and they read somewhere that you have to “train to failure,” so that’s what they need to call what they are doing.

Of course then you get the heroes who – though in fact they don’t fail at any point – let you know that they don’t just train to failure, why, they train BEYOND FAILURE, don’cha know.

The problems go beyond this: that is just the start of it.

Doing the most reps you can in your final work set – which might be the only work set after warmups, if warmups were needed – is a fine approach. But failure as a goal is not.

Somewhat depends on the exercise/situation though.

I actually go to failure when way doing DB bench (meaning I actually attempt a rep and wind up failing to complete it) because I know that I’m not going to get stuck under the weight.

I would never do that with BB bench though because of saftey reasons (I don’t want a heavy barbell stuck on my chest and not be able to press it off). If I always had a reliable spotter, maybe I would, but I don’t.

So, you have to use common sense and determine when it is safe to actually got to failure and when it’s not.

If it’s safe to go to failure, I do (and most who claim to do as well), if it’s not, I don’t (nor do most who claim to). But I’d agree that it’s more a matter of the intensity that you put into your training that matters and not whether you actually try a rep and fail at it.[/quote]


#12

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Benway wrote:
Professor X wrote:

Why do you and those like you assume that when one of us says do not avoid curls that this means train with curls more than anything else? Is the comprehension level on this site that dull?

I did curls from the very fucking beginning. Guess what happened? My arms blew the fuck up and I still have stretch marks from that period.

If you want to look anything like a serious weightlifter/bodybuilder, train EVERY FUCKING THING.

The fact that you even wrote the term “functional” with a straight face tells me what level you are on.[/quote]

I think you took everything I wrote out of context. If you read the routine above, the guy does 9 sets of curls a week, 3 sets of squats, and four sets of deadlifts… I’m not assuming you’re telling him to do more curls than other exercises. That’s what he’s doing in his routine.

And the word “functional” - I’m not using it in terms of bosu ball squats and other garbage, I’m referring to the physical capacity to perform work/move weight. Here’s all I’m saying - the kid is going to get stronger if he squats more than once a week for three sets.

And I suppose I’m on a level where I don’t care about using a taboo word out of fear that internet denizens will appear and chastise my use of the word. You’re just being excessively belligerent.

Honestly, do you disagree with the concept that doing more than three sets of squats a week will make this kid stronger? Because that’s all I’m saying. It seems to me like instead of trying to provide constructive advice for the poster, you’re more interested in arguing with my choice of words or my personal mentality.

You’re right, the kid will probably have more shoulder and upper arm growth if he does curls and lateral raises in addition to other movements like rows and presses. But I was never arguing otherwise… I simply wanted to tell him he would likely experience significant gains in strength if he squatted more frequently.


#13

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:

However for anyone who has developed much strength this is a terrible way to train: it burns out the nervous system and prevents doing very much work at all.

So most don’t do that. Instead they succeed in lifting every rep that they actually do – they don’t fail during the set – but decide that if they tried another rep they probably would fail at it, and they call this “training to failure” because that’s trendy, don’cha know, and they read somewhere that you have to “train to failure,” so that’s what they need to call what they are doing.

Of course then you get the heroes who – though in fact they don’t fail at any point – let you know that they don’t just train to failure, why, they train BEYOND FAILURE, don’cha know.

The problems go beyond this: that is just the start of it.

Doing the most reps you can in your final work set – which might be the only work set after warmups, if warmups were needed – is a fine approach. But failure as a goal is not.[/quote]

What kind of filth is this? Failure occurs due to peripheral, not central fatigue. And we have no way of even observing, let alone accurately measuring what happens in the nervous system during exericse, so it is totally specious to babble about the CNS in relation to failure training, or any other kind of training for that matter.

The rest of your post is chock full of worthless generalizations about people who supposedly train to failure and it’s all so lame that I really don’t care to respond to any of it. You’re posting to failure, not training to failure.


#14

[quote]Benway wrote:
Professor X wrote:
Benway wrote:
Professor X wrote:

Why do you and those like you assume that when one of us says do not avoid curls that this means train with curls more than anything else? Is the comprehension level on this site that dull?

I did curls from the very fucking beginning. Guess what happened? My arms blew the fuck up and I still have stretch marks from that period.

If you want to look anything like a serious weightlifter/bodybuilder, train EVERY FUCKING THING.

The fact that you even wrote the term “functional” with a straight face tells me what level you are on.

I think you took everything I wrote out of context. If you read the routine above, the guy does 9 sets of curls a week, 3 sets of squats, and four sets of deadlifts… I’m not assuming you’re telling him to do more curls than other exercises. That’s what he’s doing in his routine.

And the word “functional” - I’m not using it in terms of bosu ball squats and other garbage, I’m referring to the physical capacity to perform work/move weight. Here’s all I’m saying - the kid is going to get stronger if he squats more than once a week for three sets.

And I suppose I’m on a level where I don’t care about using a taboo word out of fear that internet denizens will appear and chastise my use of the word. You’re just being excessively belligerent.

Honestly, do you disagree with the concept that doing more than three sets of squats a week will make this kid stronger? Because that’s all I’m saying. It seems to me like instead of trying to provide constructive advice for the poster, you’re more interested in arguing with my choice of words or my personal mentality.

You’re right, the kid will probably have more shoulder and upper arm growth if he does curls and lateral raises in addition to other movements like rows and presses. But I was never arguing otherwise… I simply wanted to tell him he would likely experience significant gains in strength if he squatted more frequently.[/quote]

When I was doing squats, I was only doing 3 sets a week. I might do other movements like extensions, leg presses and leg curls, but I wasn’t doing much than that just for ONE exercise.

The average person counts ALL SETS for all exercises in a routine for one muscle group, not just one exercise like you seem to be doing. This guy is doing 9 fucking sets for legs which is pretty much what I did and what many people do who see progress.

What is the problem? You think all people should be acting like squats deserve triple the volume alone as one exercise?

Do you even understand the concept of a split routine?


#15

Okay, he’s doing 9 sets for legs, and he’s also doing 9 sets just for biceps… I would imagine for the ordinary person, that the amount of training volume to stimulate an appreciable number of muscle fibers in the entire upper leg would exceed the amount of training volume necessary to stimulate an appreciable number of muscle fibers in the biceps.

So why have an equal amount of training volume for two muscles of hugely disproportionate size?

I just think a higher volume of lower body work would be conducive to both better gains and a more balanced physique. This guy is doing 46 sets of upper body work and 13 sets of lower body work a week (Deadlifts on the third day). Does the upper body need 3.5 times the training volume as the lower body?

I really feel like he’d benefit from increasing the amount of ANY lower body training… You’re right, there’s nothing “magical” about squats. He’d do just fine keeping three sets of squats a week if he dedicated more of his training volume to the lower body…


#16

Benway, if we’re talking ramping then 3 sets of squats make sense… the op is probably not overly strong and doesn’t need too many “warm-ups”.

He has 3 different curl exercises, thus 9 sets total there… But he also does 3 leg exercises.

I’d add a widowmaker to squats (but not on his split, he’s deadlifting 2 days later etc… And generally does a lot of work in one day…) and that would pretty much toast my quads… Doing more sets on squats would just kill my strength gain.

And if we’re talking straight sets… Well, actually, it isn’t so different there.
Do too many sets and your strength gain will slow down and ultimately stall.

I don’t think his routine is great at all of course, just saying.

If he were to add more squat sets he’d probably run himself into the ground after 2 weeks.


#17

[quote]Benway wrote:
Okay, he’s doing 9 sets for legs, and he’s also doing 9 sets just for biceps… I would imagine for the ordinary person, that the amount of training volume to stimulate an appreciable number of muscle fibers in the entire upper leg would exceed the amount of training volume necessary to stimulate an appreciable number of muscle fibers in the biceps.

So why have an equal amount of training volume for two muscles of hugely disproportionate size? [/quote] Because you use way less weight on bicep movements…? Seriously, what kind of intensity are you using on leg work that you can do more than 3-4 exercises for the thighs?
My hams are fried after parillo-SLDL’s. Might be able to do leg curls still, but there’s usually no point. Besides, I squat with a relatively wide stance anyway… So more ham work via squats.

SLDL’s + Squats (heavy set and widow) = I want to crawl home.

The op could probably do some leg extensions… But yeah. I don’t see how he could add much more volume /exercises (as guy of average genetics, if that’s what he is) without that becoming detrimental to his progress.

And 3 exercise for bis/forearms/brachialis… Well, ok, might be able to make do with 2 (bi-curls of some sort and a hammer-grip or pinwheel curl or so), but it’s not like that matters a whole lot? I mean, training the arm flexors doesn’t exactly take away from the other exercises.

[quote]

I just think a higher volume of lower body work would be conducive to both better gains and a more balanced physique. This guy is doing 46 sets of upper body work and 13 sets of lower body work a week (Deadlifts on the third day). Does the upper body need 3.5 times the training volume as the lower body? [/quote] The volume as such doesn’t matter all that much. If he’s making strength gains for reps fast enough on his lower and upper body work, he’ll grow just fine.
I’d be more worried about his upper body volume being unnecessarily high and thus hindering his upper-body growth if we’re talking straight sets here…
And the routine in general is just not something that looks well thought-out to me… Low back overlap etc… [quote]

I really feel like he’d benefit from increasing the amount of ANY lower body training… You’re right, there’s nothing “magical” about squats. He’d do just fine keeping three sets of squats a week if he dedicated more of his training volume to the lower body…[/quote]


#18

Back, front back, fr-front back, fr-front back, side to side. I don’t do every single set to failure. Just to the brink. The last set of the exercise I hit the NOS and go for broke with the heaviest weight possible. Ex.

Alt Hammer curl
50x12
60x10
70x8
75x4-8

The last set, I give it all its got and sometimes I get more than what I’m shooting for. Keeping the same weight for all your sets seems like a waste of time to me. Borderline, special person IMO. My two centavos.


#19

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
Yes, I didn’t mean to say it should never be done (to continue sets until an attempted rep actually is failed, despite true effort to complete it. As opposed to just deciding to at that point let a spotter help, though if he were to scream “FUCK YOU, BITCH!” and storm off, you actually probably could finish the rep with blood and guts effort. Those that routinely end sets this way – oh, I need a spot now – generally really are not failing, especially if they do any substantial volume of work.)
[/quote]

Well, I don’t know about others, but I could not finish the next rep without putting myself at serious risk of injury (and even then I don’t know). But I hear what you’re saying.

Well I’m not arguing with that either, but then again I’m a fan of ramping, and using that protocol going to failure on “every” set would be counterproductive.


#20

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Bill Roberts wrote:
Yes, I didn’t mean to say it should never be done (to continue sets until an attempted rep actually is failed, despite true effort to complete it. As opposed to just deciding to at that point let a spotter help, though if he were to scream “FUCK YOU, BITCH!” and storm off, you actually probably could finish the rep with blood and guts effort. Those that routinely end sets this way – oh, I need a spot now – generally really are not failing, especially if they do any substantial volume of work.)

Well, I don’t know about others, but I could not finish the next rep without putting myself at serious risk of injury (and even then I don’t know). But I hear what you’re saying.[/quote]

For example, ordinarily if lending a spot, I supply minimum possible upward force that sees the rep indeed resume going up again.

Often this is a matter of ounces. (By the way, I deliberatey generate a visual appearance of apparently doing somewhat more than that, with isometric tensing. The lifter probably assumes I’m giving significant assistance.)

I don’t really believe the lifter could not have generated a few more ounces with force of will.

He says he “went to failure” but no, he just decided to let the spotter assist at that point.

Another reason for saying this is bar speed. Whether lending the spot myself or – much more common – seeing others do it, the bar speed doesn’t follow the pattern that is the case with true maximal effort. When truly working as hard as possible, the bar speed starts getting really slow, and progressively so. I don’t see this happening with the spots. The grinding-through-extreme-effort phase just is being omitted, the vast majority of the time. Rather it goes from working-not-that-hard to “time for a spot.” Failure does not occur, but rather decision to not work any harder.

I’m not saying YOU do that in a set you describe as being to failure: I’m saying that there is such a thing as letting the spotter help without it being in any proper way a matter of failure having occurred.

I’m not saying either that they should have insisted that I wait till they were clearly blowing circuit breakers and having smoke come out of their ears – actually failing – before lending the spot.

Just saying that I don’t think they are in fact continuing to failure.