T Nation

Volitional Failure

Let’s say my workout for today was:

Bench Press (Work up to 5 reps)
Flat Bench (3x8)
Cable Fly (3x12)
Hammer Curls (3x8)
Barbell Curls (3x12)

(lol…it’s a very glam-muscle day.)

I understand that it would be beneficial for me to ramp up to one maximal set or 5 reps for bench press, but I was wondering if people tend to also ramp up on accessory exercises or just do straight sets (sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue)?

I have nothing to contribute…

But what’s the difference between “bench press” and “flat bench”?

[quote]setto222 wrote:
… but I was wondering if people tend to also ramp up on accessory exercises or just do straight sets (sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue)?
[/quote]
People run accessory work in a variety of ways. If pressed I would say most “tend” to just do straight sets. The more advanced guys probably have a whole bag of tricks to manipulate intensity such as pyramid sets, wave loading, ramping, hat-trick sets, drop sets, donkey punch training, German training, power sets, hyper sets, 21’s, paused sets, super sets, houdini sets, rocking horse sets, tri-sets, etc.

the truth is, as i may quote jim wendler: “it simply doesn’t matter!”

what counts is the progressive overload in the main lift and then 1-2 assistance exercises which you can keep track of weight-wise. for something like curls and tricep extensions i wouldn’t even bother noting the weight/giving a fuck about how you ramp them. just do whatever you feel like that day.

[quote]LoRez wrote:
I have nothing to contribute…

But what’s the difference between “bench press” and “flat bench”?[/quote]

Nothing. Just used them interchangably.

[quote]Kooopa wrote:
the truth is, as i may quote jim wendler: “it simply doesn’t matter!”

what counts is the progressive overload in the main lift and then 1-2 assistance exercises which you can keep track of weight-wise. for something like curls and tricep extensions i wouldn’t even bother noting the weight/giving a fuck about how you ramp them. just do whatever you feel like that day.[/quote]

The lifter in me says this makes sense. The scientist in me doesn’t. However I’ll do it. Lord knows around here the plural of anecdote tends to be evidence.

[quote]setto222 wrote:
volitional[/quote]

[quote]setto222 wrote:
… I was wondering if people tend to also ramp up on accessory exercises or just do straight sets (sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue)?
[/quote]
Like JLo said, people have different ways of running their accessory work. One of the biggest factors would be your goal. If you’re training for size, then having more work sets/taking more sets to the limit - as in straight sets - is one way to get there.

(Related side note/personal pet peeve: If training for size is the primary goal, they’re not really “assistance exercises”, they’re just exercises.)

If you’re training for strength, then really pushing the effort/approaching failure on the assistance work may not be as important.

[quote]setto222 wrote:

[quote]Kooopa wrote:
the truth is, as i may quote jim wendler: “it simply doesn’t matter!”

what counts is the progressive overload in the main lift and then 1-2 assistance exercises which you can keep track of weight-wise. for something like curls and tricep extensions i wouldn’t even bother noting the weight/giving a fuck about how you ramp them. just do whatever you feel like that day.[/quote]

The lifter in me says this makes sense. The scientist in me doesn’t. However I’ll do it. Lord knows around here the plural of anecdote tends to be evidence. [/quote]

show me studies regarding the topic of strength training that concern the effects of using different ramping styles and strength/size gains and i’ll get outta here w/ my “anecdotal evidence”. when it comes to questions like this i’ll gladly stick to the advice of really experienced coaches or athletes (rip & wendler would be my two favorites by a very long shot) due to lack of scientific evidence.

please don’t be so condecending with your language. you’re not talking to idiots here. the problem is simply that there is very limited scientific info available, that’s also what gave rise to all the broscience bullshit.

I dont think it matters too terribly much, as long as there is quantifiable progression. Be that more weight, more reps, making the movement harder by other means (tempo, etc)

[quote]Kooopa wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:

[quote]Kooopa wrote:
the truth is, as i may quote jim wendler: “it simply doesn’t matter!”

what counts is the progressive overload in the main lift and then 1-2 assistance exercises which you can keep track of weight-wise. for something like curls and tricep extensions i wouldn’t even bother noting the weight/giving a fuck about how you ramp them. just do whatever you feel like that day.[/quote]

The lifter in me says this makes sense. The scientist in me doesn’t. However I’ll do it. Lord knows around here the plural of anecdote tends to be evidence. [/quote]

show me studies regarding the topic of strength training that concern the effects of using different ramping styles and strength/size gains and i’ll get outta here w/ my “anecdotal evidence”. when it comes to questions like this i’ll gladly stick to the advice of really experienced coaches or athletes (rip & wendler would be my two favorites by a very long shot) due to lack of scientific evidence.

please don’t be so condecending with your language. you’re not talking to idiots here. the problem is simply that there is very limited scientific info available, that’s also what gave rise to all the broscience bullshit.[/quote]

Not sure what offended you. The fact that there AREN’T scientific studies is what makes the evidence anecdotal. Anecdotal evidence (despite what the gods of wiki say) need not be derogatory, it’s just not case-control or blind-control etc evidence.

I didn’t mention broscience nor do I knock it. A substantial portion of the body of research in the field of exercise study starts off with “broscience”. So I look at anecdotal evidence and broscience as a hypothesis that seems to work, I would just love to understand WHY it works. The plural of anecdote is not data, but that seems to be the case in a lot of these questions before they are tackled by well-performed research.

I appreciate you help and advice/information in the matter of training to failure. I meant no offence. Don’t see how you and I both admitting there is lack of research is considered condescending.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:
volitional[/quote]

[quote]setto222 wrote:
… I was wondering if people tend to also ramp up on accessory exercises or just do straight sets (sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue)?
[/quote]
Like JLo said, people have different ways of running their accessory work. One of the biggest factors would be your goal. If you’re training for size, then having more work sets/taking more sets to the limit - as in straight sets - is one way to get there.

(Related side note/personal pet peeve: If training for size is the primary goal, they’re not really “assistance exercises”, they’re just exercises.)

If you’re training for strength, then really pushing the effort/approaching failure on the assistance work may not be as important.[/quote]

Haha the whole “volitional” in the thread title was put the by a mod. I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.

Thanks for the info! And I’ll ease back on the “assistance” stuff!

I ramp my big lifts and pyramid my accessory stuff

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
I ramp my big lifts and pyramid my accessory stuff[/quote]

I did something along those lines yesterday. Maybe it was just the change from the same-old same-old but it felt great!

Thanks everybody else who contributed to the thread.

[quote]setto222 wrote:
sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue

I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.[/quote]
Gotcha, just saying I’ve never heard “volitional” in the context of when to end a set. What do you consider “volitional fatigue”?

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:
sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue

I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.[/quote]
Gotcha, just saying I’ve never heard “volitional” in the context of when to end a set. What do you consider “volitional fatigue”?[/quote]

When the muscle has difficulty contracting and one would have to cheat in order to perform another rep. Basically the termination of a set due to one’s volition.

[quote]setto222 wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:
sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue

I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.[/quote]
Gotcha, just saying I’ve never heard “volitional” in the context of when to end a set. What do you consider “volitional fatigue”?[/quote]

When the muscle has difficulty contracting and one would have to cheat in order to perform another rep. Basically the termination of a set due to one’s volition. [/quote]
Isn’t that usually called technical failure? Volitional failure seems to imply that you chose to fail.

[quote]Silyak wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:
sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue
I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.[/quote]
Gotcha, just saying I’ve never heard “volitional” in the context of when to end a set. What do you consider “volitional fatigue”?[/quote]
When the muscle has difficulty contracting and one would have to cheat in order to perform another rep. Basically the termination of a set due to one’s volition. [/quote]
Isn’t that usually called technical failure? Volitional failure seems to imply that you chose to fail. [/quote]
I think that is technical failure for us meat-heads.

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]Silyak wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:
sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue
I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.[/quote]
Gotcha, just saying I’ve never heard “volitional” in the context of when to end a set. What do you consider “volitional fatigue”?[/quote]
When the muscle has difficulty contracting and one would have to cheat in order to perform another rep. Basically the termination of a set due to one’s volition. [/quote]
Isn’t that usually called technical failure? Volitional failure seems to imply that you chose to fail. [/quote]
I think that is technical failure for us meat-heads. [/quote]

I’ve never heard it referred to like that but if it’s anything like “technical failure” in mechanical and industrial engineering it’s a bit different.

Technical failure would occur when the muscle doesn’t meet the specifications and conditions to contract (i came to this by following the material-science concept of tech failure). So for muscle this could mean a few things from the brain all the way to the effected muscle (ex: Not enough Na to produce and action potential in the CNS motor cortex, insuficient mineral concentrations at synapse with peripheral nerves, insufficient concentrations at synapse at motor unit, insufficient nerve impulses to create an actual contration/meet threshold for AP…the list goes on).

So the way this would differ from volitional fatigue could be summed up by a friendly rat named Mickey. I take mickey and put him in a wheel and he runs and run and runs. Eventually he becomes exhausted and has to stop running (either jumps off the wheel or just plops down and spins along with the wheel) this is volitional fatigue.

Now, I take Micky off of the wheel and attatch surface electrodes (i’d rather not harm our hypothetical mouse with invasive electrodes…) and run enough current through them in order to cause a contraction. The muscle will contract and contract and contract becuase all of the ingredients for contraction are still there, but eventually the muscle will be unable to form another contraction (due to physiological factors) and that would be when the rat has reached technical fatigue.

It’s just the way I was taught, but maybe i have the nomenclature screwed up.

[quote]Silyak wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]setto222 wrote:
sometimes all sets being close to volitional fatigue

I only refeared to it as volitional fatigue so that it wouldn’t be confused with other forms of fatigue.[/quote]
Gotcha, just saying I’ve never heard “volitional” in the context of when to end a set. What do you consider “volitional fatigue”?[/quote]

When the muscle has difficulty contracting and one would have to cheat in order to perform another rep. Basically the termination of a set due to one’s volition. [/quote]
Isn’t that usually called technical failure? Volitional failure seems to imply that you chose to fail. [/quote]

You don’t really chose to fail, but I suppose you could always connect yourself up to some sort of electrode system and contract away through the pain…

There is nothing dishonorable about volitional fatigue. I’m sure you and many others on this site do NOT give up easily and therefore come pretty darn close to their “technical fatigue”

[quote]setto222 wrote:
I’ve never heard it referred to like that but if it’s anything like “technical failure” in mechanical and industrial engineering it’s a bit different.

Technical failure would occur when the muscle doesn’t meet the specifications and conditions to contract (i came to this by following the material-science concept of tech failure). So for muscle this could mean a few things from the brain all the way to the effected muscle (ex: Not enough Na to produce and action potential in the CNS motor cortex, insuficient mineral concentrations at synapse with peripheral nerves, insufficient concentrations at synapse at motor unit, insufficient nerve impulses to create an actual contration/meet threshold for AP…the list goes on).

So the way this would differ from volitional fatigue could be summed up by a friendly rat named Mickey. I take mickey and put him in a wheel and he runs and run and runs. Eventually he becomes exhausted and has to stop running (either jumps off the wheel or just plops down and spins along with the wheel) this is volitional fatigue.

Now, I take Micky off of the wheel and attatch surface electrodes (i’d rather not harm our hypothetical mouse with invasive electrodes…) and run enough current through them in order to cause a contraction. The muscle will contract and contract and contract becuase all of the ingredients for contraction are still there, but eventually the muscle will be unable to form another contraction (due to physiological factors) and that would be when the rat has reached technical fatigue.

It’s just the way I was taught, but maybe i have the nomenclature screwed up. [/quote]
This is lifting not engineering.

Technical failure simply means you can no longer perform the lift with good form.

ie. One is so fatigued they start using body-english to complete their bicep curls.