T Nation

Training to Failure & Recovery Needs


Is training to failure an effective & efficient way for us natty over 35’s? I’m still a noob (almost 3mo in gym), & like to push myself to get all the work my body will give. I’m reading articles (C. Thib) that say maybe I should back off that level of intensity due to excess cortisol release. I like to workout 2or3 days on & 1day off. I’ve had to take 2days a few times, but generally I feel great after just 1 day off. I sleep plenty, walk & stretch daily & eat pretty well.

I’ve been on a push/pull/legs split, doing from ~10-15+ work sets per workout - more on upper body days as the weights are lighter & I have more exercises (3-5 exercises for upper days & 2-3 for lower body). Movements are almost all compound lifts. Calves & Abs worked in a few times a week.

Upper body stuff:
Bench, incline, decline sometimes with DB’s, dip machine, Overhead presses, push-ups pullups, rows

Lower body:
Squats, deads, ham raises, sometimes RDLs &/or hack squat machine (only one squat rack in gym)

I’ve been feeling good doing this so far, joints wanted a break this week, but I’m still very motivated & mind/muscles feel strong. So far no regression on my weights, each workout seems to be more weight or more reps or both.

Am I missing out on potential gains working out like this, or should I continue to listen to my mind/body & go hard when I can?


I wouldn’t overthink things at your stage, especially if you’re thinking about doing less work in the gym. I do not think you need to worry about excess cortisol release with three months under the bar. Worry about forcing your body to adapt to an increased workload. Don’t back off unless something hurts.

On the subject of training to failure, I think it is fine for isolation work. For heavy compounds I push my sets hard, but very rarely to failure. I don’t like missing reps on squat/bench/dead/press.


Thanks for that twojar. I’m not at all looking to back off, & could probably find another 3 work sets to add as I’m rarely whipped leaving the gym. Muscle soreness hits ~20hrs later & is usually gone in 72hrs. The few workouts where I focused on slow negatives beat me up for much longer though.

Just didn’t want to be counterproductive & increase my rate of baldhood :roll_eyes:


FWIW my hairline’s been holding pretty steady since I took up lifting 3.5 years ago.


This early in the game, a lot of your gains come from the nervous system learning the moves and stimulating the muscles you already have to work. When that stage of development is over, you can start worrying about biochemistry.


So what yer sayin’ is that once I learn the movements & train my brain to fire on more circuits, THEN my hair will fall out?!?! Motivation :joy:

Overthinking it on my end for sure, gonna take the rest of this week easy, then back on my grunting & dropset game.