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Stopping Right at MMF vs Trying to Move Weight After Failure

RampantBadger, Recommend the 30-10-30 program by Dr. Darden???

I am doing the 30-10-30 method and doing it to lose body fat

I increase the reps and weight as much as I can without sacrificing form…so yes I am getting stronger

As for getting bigger in the normal sense, being 57 years old is not a goal, by I have had people make compliments to more muscle

I would say go one rep shy of what you normally do, do 3-4 sets per exercise, add some direct bicep and Tricep work in, and double that frequency. Here’s a routine that would work great for you based on the exercises and split that you laid out.

Monday: Upper

Bench 4 sets 6-10

Dumbbell Overhead Press 3 sets 8-12
Supersetted with French Press 3 sets 8-12
Supersetted with Shrugs 3 sets 8-12

Weighted Chins 3 sets 4-6
Supersetted with Hammer Curl 3 sets 6-10
Supersetted with Hanging Leg raises 3 sets AMRAP

Tuesday: Lower

Leg Press 4 sets 6-10

Leg Curl 3 sets 8-12
Supersetted with 3 sets of unweighted pull ups AMRAP

Calf Raises 3 sets 10-15
Supersetted with Sit Ups 3 sets AMRAP

Thursday: Upper

Barbell Overhead Press 6 sets 4-12

Paused Bench 4 sets 6-10

Barbell Curl 3 sets 6-10
Supersetted with Skull Crushers 3 sets 8-12
Supersetted with Pendlay Rows 3 sets 6-10

Weighted Chins 3 sets 4-6
Supersetted with Sit Ups 3 sets AMRAP

Friday: Lower

Bent Over Barbell Row 4 sets 4-8(normally would have deadlift here, but you don’t like those so I’m replacing with another pull from the floor)

Paused Squat(or leg Press) 4 sets 6-10
Supersetted with Unweighted Pull Ups 4 sets AMRAP

Shrugs 3 sets of 8-12
Supersetted with Calf Raises 3 sets 8-12
Supersetted with hanging knee raises 3 sets AMRAP

Personally, I’d also throw in an arm day on Saturday, but that’s just me and my personal preference.

Everything that I don’t have listed as a super set, Rest 2-3 minutes between sets on. Keep a rep in the tank on every exercise. When you get acquainted with the volume you can start hitting failure on isolation exercises you feel safe doing so on. Try to increase reps performed or weight on the bar every week. Keeping a rep in the tank is good for your confidence knowing you can get another rep next time.

Yeah you can give it a whirl, dont need to go failure so ticks that box.

I personally think an approach like this is preferable, it actually compliments HIT in the long run…

What Dave laid below is good stuff also.

If you like 2 days a week this would be a good start…

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Interesting post.

My natural instinct is to go and push on to failure, that said, much like yourself I have found benefit in cluster sets similar to what you’re describing. Certainly in terms of strength. Difficult for me to quite ascertain how much these clusters have contributed to overall hypertrophy (which is my primary objective) purely in and of themselves, though.

Fwiw while a lot of HITers seem to find the idea of split routines somewhat objectionable and I know Arthur Jones once denounced them, I also split mine. Find the split I do to be the easiest to stick to consistently. And I’ll die on the hill that the best split is the one you can stick to consistently!

Like I mentioned , stopping just short of failure was a really hard thing to do after doing it for so many years . I was finally able to but it was a hard habitat to break and I still hit failure at times but when I do I stop and no longer keep trying to move a weight that isn’t budging.

And for me a BIG part of recovery yet still training really hard is splitting the routine . I always felt I’d do better splitting than doing full body but continued down that path because that was what you were supposed to do.

That was another dumb mistake I continued doing for too many years. Live and learn .

This has been driven into the ground in the past on this forum. The majority of empirical data shows that the Cost-Benefit of pushing/pulling on a final all-out-rep-you-won’t-complete is a huge waste of your recovery reserves. All it does is push out your recovery time and thus lower your workout frequency. Not Worth It At All!!


I hear what you are saying. I find myself returning almost year on year to a method I picked up from Chad Waterbury. It still involves old school full body workouts with similar old school rep/set recommendations, e.g. 5x5. The idea, as Waterbury likes to say, is to complete each set with the most weight possible. In practice, this means some form of drop sets and never missing a rep. Therefore, any sort of grind is out of the equation. Sure, it does take some practice because you actually question yourself whether you are lifting with enough intensity but you get into it and, the best part, feel as though you can add to the bar each workout.


You have a link for that one, James?
Thanks! Scott

Check “Full Body Training Part 1: Program Design” on chadwaterbury .com, which is part 1 of a 3 part series.

FYI, I keep rest intervals at 30s for each exercise in all sessions including the 8x10 session (which he recommends using 15s RIs which, for me, just didn’t work).

I use an 7x4; 5x5 and 8x10 scheme each week. I aim for every other day training or, if time does not permit, 3 days per week. The short RIs mean workouts last 10-20 mins. (I then do some HIIT/cardio immediately afterwards but that’s another story).

Mon- 7x4, Wed-5x5, Fri-8x10?
Week1 - 7x4
Week 2 - 5x5
Week 3 - 8x10?

3 exercises per workout?

The former. So, for example:

Monday - 7x4
A1) Dips
A2) Nordic curl
A3) Chin up

Wed - 5x5
A1) Wall press
A2) Belt squat
A3) Chest supported row

Friday - 8x10
A1) Flat DB press (on a Swiss ball)
A2) Wall squat (also using the Swiss ball, Gareth Sapstead demonstrated this recently)
A3) Band-assisted close grip pull up

Exercises and rep schemes
Whatever you go for, aim for a three compound movement circuit: push, pull, legs. The daily undulating periodisation means choosing a rep scheme that covers all the bases. When I was able to deadlift, I used to do a 10x3 day. Certain limitations have resulted in the circuits I listed above.

Rest Intervals
As mentioned, it is 30s between each exercise including the end of the circuit. This means the 7x4 and 5x5 sessions last 10-12m. The 8x10 is a bit longer.

For the 7x4 and 5x5 sessions, you want the most weight you can handle on each exercise for each round to get the required reps. This usually means dropping the weight each exercise. From a practical viewpoint, I train at home so there are no issues with setting up the circuits. You also need to have the equipment set up to allow small changes in load as you go (as those 30s tick down quickly!). Progress means starting with a higher load each new workout and attempting to keep the drops during the session to a minimum. The 8x10 is a different animal as the load remains constant and you allow the reps to dwindle each round. Waterbury recommends a deadlift in his example for this session (I personally could not do this but it sounds very Crossfit). I tally up the total reps for each exercise to measure progress.

Lift explosively. I control the eccentric but don’t aim for a prescribed time in seconds.
EDIT: this is where the judgement part comes in for those from an HIT background: the idea is to be able to complete every rep explosively. That means, for example, on the 5x5, when you get to the 5th rep on any round you will feel strong enough to complete it without any noticeable slowdown on the speed of the concentric. Sure, it you opt for something like 10x3 a decrease in speed is inevitable but, through practice, you get the feel for it. There should be no grinding reps. If you’re able to add to the bar most weeks then you know you have probably judged it correctly.

Waterbury states you can do four sessions a week, which would mean putting two back to back. Following advice from CT, I think doing every other day is optimum. That gives you seven workouts in two weeks. Again using CT’s advice, you could bring in a ‘gap workout’ and do some isolation work - hamstrings, calves, triceps, etc, personally I don’t as I am quite active every day.

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I skimmed that article, looks pretty good. I’ve always liked programs that use a push-pull-legs structure.

If you don’t mind, I have a couple of questions to make sure I’ve understood the details:

  • You are doing this as a circuit, 30 seconds between successive exercises in the circuit, so the rest periods between repeated sets of the same exercise end up being closer to 3 minutes? So you would obviously need to have a home gym with enough equipment to accommodate that setup, i.e., having three exercises set up simultaneously.

  • You say that you adjust the weight downward to keep reps in the target range. With only 30 seconds between exercises, doesn’t it get a little busy with constant weight tweaking?

No, it works out 90s before the movement is repeated.

That’s correct. For example, on the belt squat, I will have the last 10kg on the bar made up of 2.5 plates so it is just a matter of peeling one off when needed. Or, with weighted dips, I have a loading pin where I can quickly whip off a small plate before the next round.

It can do but on most occasions I can achieve this within the 30s. As I don’t plan to further reduce rest intervals, but instead increase load, this isn’t an issue provided I have set up the circuit as discussed. Would it work in a commercial gym? Probably not.

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If you haven’t done it yet, I suggest trying Hypertrophy Specific Training (HST) approach, which has much in common with HIT (i.e. same idea of mechanical work as the primary factor of growth, focus on progression in weight s, 3 times a week frequency, full-body training), but allows/requires you to train to failure (or very close) on any particular exercise only once in 2 weeks. In this case, you can slowly build-up the progression in weight lifted without burning yourself out too much (thus, a better recovery) with the last session in a 2 weeks block being all out effort or close to it. Each two-week block has different rep scheme: weeks 1-2: 15 reps; week 3-4: 10 reps, weeks 5-6: 5 reps; weeks 7-8: same 5 reps with further progression in weight or negative/negative accentuated reps. I am currently on this program and like it a lot, because previously I have had problems with progressing under standard HIT when approaching maximums in my lifts for certain repetitions and recovery was always rock bottom.


A bit less the MMF for me is best results. MMF = burned out CNS just like your describing. A rep or two less = same growth, way better on recovery.


Similar/good stuff from Waterbury…

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