T Nation

Understanding Fatigue

I did some searches but did not find the specific information I was looking for, I apologize if I missed it, please bear with me or point me in the right direction.

The other day I wanted to see how many reps I could do with my deadlift, using the same weight I had used in the session prior. I typically do a heavy 3x10, and I add 5 pounds a week. My numbers have improved and I have gotten stronger. Well, I was able to crank out 6 reps and counted it as a set. I then receded to doing 3 reps for the remaining sets. I was unable to get to 10 sets though, I found that, by the 7th set I was completely taxed and could barely inch out another rep.

So my net weight pulled ended up being 3 reps shy of what it should have been, because I exuded too much energy at the very beginning of the circuit.

So my question is, what are some guidelines, advice, tips, ideas, experiences, involving how you balance your energy for a given workout?

Is it worth it to go all out even if it means you are sacrificing total reps and thus pulling(or pushing) less sum weight by the end of your session?

Are there benefits? dangers? concepts that might help me understand this.

Similar things happen with my chin-ups. I can usually chin in sets of 10, but if I go all out in the first set and hit 15 or 20, my next set might be reduced to just over 5.

Is this all a byproduct of not resting enough between sets? or is there something more complicated going on?

Again, what sort of benefits or ideas might I take out of these examples?

Lastly. With regards to the ever controversial 'over-training; I am not particularly worried about it since I eat and sleep a lot more than I lift, but still, how well can I use my muscles soreness to gauge when I should return to those muscle groups? are there any rules of thumb or general ideas surrounding that level of fatigue(the delayed muscle soreness type)

I have recently started ramping up my time in the gym, and varying my workouts to incorporate more high rep movements. So I am curious about how these sorts of things might affect my training.

anyway, I’ve typed too much and I’m due for my last meal of the day. Thoughts and comments appreciated.

Ummm, you are mixing up volume, frequency and intensity. You can’t maximize all of them at once. 10 sets is a lot of volume so you have to decrease the intensity if you want to do that many sets, meaning each set needs to end at least 1 or 2 reps short of failure. Also, depending on your training age, recovery time (both from one session to the next and from one set to the next) and fitness level you may be able to perform more sets at or near maximum intensity than someone else.

Pullups are an example of a very intense exercise. For example, I may only be able to do 2 sets of 12 reps of pullups, but I could do 4 sets of pulldowns to complete failure at 12 reps. Likewise squats are more intense than leg presses, etc.

Soreness is not a very good indicator of anything. I often work a muscle again when it is still sore, and sometimes get my best workouts when still sore. In fact, some individuals find active recovery (performing a light set or 2 of high reps later the same day or the next day) very useful. A better indicator of overtraining is are you consistantly getting stronger or weaker?

There are a lot of good articles dealing with frequency, volume and intensity on this site. Search around and read them and then ask more specific questions.

To combat fatigue wave your weights from set to set, adjusting the weight by 5 to 10 % per set. For instance, instead of doing 5 sets of 5 reps with 200 pounds try something like…

190 200 195 210 205 215

You should find your less tired and may be able to do an extra set with no more fatigue. Also avoid failure on most sets to avoid fatigue early in your workouts.

From experience i can say that if your performance in the gym is improving you are probably not over training and need not worry about it. However, if performance is stagnant and you feel lacking in energy, ill, lacking desire or your resting heart rate is elevated upon waking in the morning you could be over training.

Thanks for the replies. Yes, my performance in the gym is typically improving, and I am not particularly worried about ‘overtraining’, I’m most interested in maximizing my input and efficiency.

As I mentioned above, if I go all out on a heavy set early in my session, I’ll often end up lifting less total weight by the end of the session. I am very curious if that matters much at all.

IMO its a simple lack of variance in progression. You cannot expect to add 5 lbs a week every week. Mix it up bro. add a rep reduce rest change the whole rep scheme from time to time. If you are able to get more more rep even thats progress.

Phill

[quote]Phill wrote:
IMO its a simple lack of variance in progression. You cannot expect to add 5 lbs a week every week. Mix it up bro. add a rep reduce rest change the whole rep scheme from time to time. If you are able to get more more rep even thats progress.

Phill[/quote]

I suppose so. I try to keep things as simple and manageable as possible. Lift. Eat. Rest. Lift. Eat. Rest…etc…etc.

I figure since I’m still a beginner I can get away with overly simplistic approaches for a while.

That being said, I do understand the importance of varying things up. Do you have any other thoughts on this as it pertains to a newbie lifter?

[quote]Malevolence wrote:

I suppose so. I try to keep things as simple and manageable as possible. Lift. Eat. Rest. Lift. Eat. Rest…etc…etc.

I figure since I’m still a beginner I can get away with overly simplistic approaches for a while.

That being said, I do understand the importance of varying things up. Do you have any other thoughts on this as it pertains to a newbie lifter?

[/quote]

Hell IMO the more advance you get thing will get more simple and basic.

yes Id just not over change but progress in varied ways. one rep, one more set, one more lb, something

Then change things sure from time to time even as little as grip width foot stance, rep scheme you need to do thing for long enough to see results though be consistant and aim to progress then do a bit of changing concentrate on DL instead of squat for a while OH press intstead of flat. etc but keep the back bone consistant.

Phill