T Nation

Tired of Failure


I know a lot of people here don't seem to like Mike Mentzer's theories but they worked for me, until now. Maybe this is the problem with it. I'm tired mentally.

It's difucult to get psyched up for a workout to failure day after day after day, especially when you train at home and have no training partners to yell at you or make fun of you for not giving all out effort.

Anyway, I want to take it easy for a couple months but not lose anything I've gotten so far. What are your favorite "easy" workouts. I looked through several on T-Nation but the amount of info is staggering and geared toward making huge gains.

I'm 41 and married for 24 yrs. and I'm not looking to make huge gains for now, just looking to coast for awhile. :slightly_smiling:

Thanks for the input.


Your central nervous system is prob burned out. So, yes, you DO need to lift lighter weights for more reps and quit when you can do 3 more reps. Hey, I used to lift the Mentzer way but this site is chock full of useful info in terms of the 'what and how' to structure your program. Just recover your CNS, then take up a Cressey, Waterbury, Staley or John program, do the set with '2 reps to spare'. Still lift heavy but do not lift to absolute, total failure.


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Sounds like the typical symptoms of over training. For a break go over to Coach Dan John's web site read his free book "From the Ground Up" and give it a try for six months. I'm 49 and I have learned over training is the bain of older lifters. I am as strong as I've ever been. But, over training is always near. Good luck.


Anyone with your christmas photo collection, I'll listen to. :slightly_smiling:



I do every set to failure. It is supposed to be a a 5set/5rep routine, but during first set I get about 7-8 reps... can't stop at 5 reps..it's just in my head to keep going...then I get about 5 reps for 2nd set, and about 4 or 5 for next 3 sets.

Trying to gain about twenty pounds. I'm 6'2" and weigh @ 180lbs, 33" waist.


For how long have they worked? I followed heavy duty meticulously for 7 years and it always worked-for 18-24 weeks at a time. I always ended up mentally burned out. Also, I realized that as I went from getting say 6 reps up to say 10 reps at a certain load, I could always find minor drop-offs in form. If you are just counting reps and load then there is no way to be sure you are making progress. How much muscular bodyweight have you added in the last 12 months.

Anyway, I ask this because within 6 months of stopping heavy duty style after about 7 years on it, I added about 15 pounds of muscular bodyweight and lost about 10 pounds of fat.

What I switched to was total body 3x/week. 1 hour time limit. Different exercises each workout and alternating between light, medium and heavy loads, and stopping 1-3 reps shy of "mental" failure.


2 years with no break.

At first I made good progress, lost about 20# fat gained about 10# muscle. then hit a plateau weight wise for a few months then I have gained about 5# fat back this fall.

The reason I liked heavy duty was the time required. I have a business and 4 kids all in different sports. Doesn't leave much time to work out. I'm sure the fat is more diet related though. Christmas is over so back on the wagon!

Form always seems to suffer on the last 2 reps, whether 6 or 10 reps the last one or two suffers.

I am lucky if I ever get an hour. I have thought about splitting the workout over 2 days just to save time but don't know how effective that is.


OK, here is what I see. The Mentzer stuff like any shock to the system works for a while. Then boom you stop gaining.

The amount of food and rest required for it can be another problem. It is why the Central Nervous System tells you to go to hell after a while.

While not a big Westsider I do agree that the body cannot consistently train to fail and make gains. That is why they mix up speed and heavy and back off too.

Here is what we do and all over 38 are making gains. You mix up the workouts. Huh how hard is that. The body adapts to repeated workouts and goes on strike.

What we do is varying the workouts. Over a 2 week cycle we train squats speed light weight 12 sets of 2 and 45 or less seconds rest between sets. The a moderate workout sets of 10 then a heavy workout sets of 5 or fewer reps. We deadlift every other week. The key in this is modifying the assistance work, and eating right.

Overtraining is the most overused excuse around. Look, most lifters now do not work jobs like the old lifters in the 60's and 70's did. Those guys both Olympic and power worked damn hard jobs and trained in a manner that many gurus today say is overtraining. They made gains, many without drugs, and ate a ton.

Someone on this site brought up some prisoner that was squatting for hours every day and hugely strong. Well duh, when all you do is eat and exercise what do you expect.

I am 55 damn near 56 so I have seen a lot. Know what, I train harder than many younger guys, eat like a horse, no drugs, and have a life. Best thing is to take 2 weeks off training, quit the Mentzer crap, shock the body, and get to work.


Senseial, I just got back from watching the King Kong movie and there is your avatar on my computer when I get home, and you sound like my Dad. Thanks for the input.

Obvioiusly I am going to change things up. The question now is; I only have 30-45 minutes 3 nights a week. What are everyones favorite short (time-wise) workouts?


OLAD, EDT Style. Love the acronyms. Pick a lift, set a time-limit and a number of reps that you'd like to get. When you get it, up the weight. I prefer 50 reps in 20 mins. Do a couple of warmups, then go at it. Short, refreshing, and it works.


First of all, I wanted to clarify from before that I have never gone back to the "heavy duty" style of training since I switched. I don't want to turn this into a Mentzer bashing thread because there are anough of those around.

I think you can get a more effective workout in 30-45 minutes 3x/week if you don't use HD. You will have to get out of the mentality of "complete and total recovery between workouts" if you got to that point, and you also have to avoid getting totally psyched up for sets.

Within your parameters here's what I would recommend based on what has worked for me:

Day 1: Lighter/Higher reps (12-20 reps)
Day 2: medium (6-10 reps)
Day 3: Heavy (3-5 reps)

Basically day one you use about your 20 rep max or a little heavier, day two you use about your 10 rep max or a little heavier and day 3 you use your 5 rep max. Days off should go between so you are not training on consecutive days.

Each day you should do 1 big pressing movement, 1 big upper body pulling movement and at least 1 lower body exercise. Do 3 sets all at the same weight for these exercises, gunning for your rep goal (20, 10 or 5) on the first set. Don't force any reps. Don't worry if you don't up your reps each week because you are going to be adding sets. In addition to the three big exercises, you can add 2-3 smaller exercises, but set a 45 minute time limit and try to pace yourself and save about 5 minutes at the end "in the tank" so you know you could get more next time. Use different exercises on each day of the week.

On week 2 add 1 set of everything. On week 3 add another set of everything but still trying to get done in the time frame alotted.

Week 4, 5 and 6 cut to just 2 sets of everthing but you can throw in a forced rep, or a drop set, or something to increase the challenge.

Example routine with possible rep numbers:

Day 1: all sets done with a 20 rep max or a little heavier.
1-leg squat 3 sets
Dips 3 sets
Shrugs or Upright rows 3 sets

Day 2: 10 rep max 3 sets each
Stiff leg deadlift or type of goodmorning
Dumbell Incline press
Cable or dumbell rows

Day 3: 5 rep max 3 sets each
Overhead press
Chin-up (ie underhand)

week 2, do 4 sets of everything. Week 3 do 5 sets of everything. You should be able to do this in 30 minutes. Don't add weight over the 3 week period unless you are way off in your estimate. In the final week, your reps on day 1 might look like 20, 16, 12, 10, 8. Day 2 like 10, 8, 7, 6, 6
and day 3 like 5, 5, 5, 4, 4.

Now for weeks 4-6, cut to 2 sets, add 10% weight, push a little harder, rest a little more between sets, even feel free to draw the 9 workouts out over 4 weeks if you want extra days off. This would give you a 7 week routine.

If you want to repeat the program, switch up your exercises somewhat.


Cool, thanks.
That takes care of my tired brain excuse too.

Now I'll to be ready to kick my cocky 20 yo nephews butt arm wrestling at the next family get together. :slight_smile:


Did you manage to improve your weights doing that?

5x5 routines that I read about and used acutally start the weights even lighter (at about 10RM) and then you add a little every workout. After 5-6 weeks you can handle your old 5RM for 5x5, without actually coming near failure in 4 or 5 of those weeks.