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Adding in Reps in Reserve

Joshua82

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In my training I typically do about 4 sets to failure for a given body partMuch more and I simply can’t recover and continue to progress. I have recently Been considering some research on effective reps. To over simplify Basically the last 5 reps of a given set being the reps in a set that are effective for causing growth.
So my thought is about maybe getting rid of 1 of my failure sets and adding in some sets with 1-3 reps left in reserve. These sets should be much easier to recover from and less physically taxing while giving me more effective reps to grow from.
So I was wondering if anyone here has gone from a program based on low volume, to failure, progress sesssion to session, to including a bit more non failure volume and seen any results from it?

thanks
 

Cracker69

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Yes, definitely. I think hypertrophy can come down to simply the amount of work done. Ive seen some studies where high volume low fatigue training matched higher intensity protocols in hypertrophy and sometimes surpassed them in protein synthesis. I usually mix it up depending on how I feel that day, but I think it is at least equally effective to add volume without nearing failure or even near fatigue. I also feel like the reps prior to fatigue are sometimes better quality and concentration is better where instead of fatiguing the muscle and potentially recruiting other muscle groups you can stop short of fatigue and get better reps with more sets overall as well as recover better afterwards.
 

Swifto

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Jordan Peters did it and said it didn't work.
 

Joshua82

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Jordan Peters did it and said it didn't work.
Yeah I follow JP, I believe he did all of his sets with rir with no failure sets when he tried it though I believe correct?
 

IronLion2

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It's rather a paltry variable TBH. The people who want to tell you going to absolute failure or always stopping short of it is whats holding you back, those are the same people trying to sell you things.
 

Joshua82

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It's rather a paltry variable TBH. The people who want to tell you going to absolute failure or always stopping short of it is whats holding you back, those are the same people trying to sell you things.
so no thoughts on optimization?
I go to failure because it’s what I’ve always loved to do. Load up heavy weight and lift it as many times as possible, pushing to always beat what I did last week.
I just have curiosity if adding volume by adding in non failure sets would be beneficial/ noticeably better
 

Swifto

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so no thoughts on optimization?
I go to failure because it’s what I’ve always loved to do. Load up heavy weight and lift it as many times as possible, pushing to always beat what I did last week.
I just have curiosity if adding volume by adding in non failure sets would be beneficial/ noticeably better
Not if they're taking away performance from your failure sets IMO.

From what I understand, its going to take way performance from your 'top sets', in my protocol thats 1 failure 6-10 and then another failure set 10-15, and its going to add to CNS damage prolonging recovery in the days after.
 

Joshua82

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I 100% agree that it would likely be detrimental if it took away from top sets. Which is why I was considering adding in that style in the second half of the workout.
 

IronLion2

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so no thoughts on optimization?
I go to failure because it’s what I’ve always loved to do. Load up heavy weight and lift it as many times as possible, pushing to always beat what I did last week.
I just have curiosity if adding volume by adding in non failure sets would be beneficial/ noticeably better
That's a question that's served in the context of all training variables. Try it, log it, hypothesize, test it, re-test it. But I almost guarantee how you structure your volume isn't the reason you plateau or can't periodize.
 

Swifto

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I 100% agree that it would likely be detrimental if it took away from top sets. Which is why I was considering adding in that style in the second half of the workout.
It doesn't matter where it goes. If its in the second part of your workout then you're going to take longer to recover before hitting your top sets again.
 

rookx750

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Time under tension=hygerg And best at certain rep ranges. That when you get the most fibers recruitment.

I might not get what your saying almost like a rest pause after your maxed efforts?
 

Joshua82

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That's a question that's served in the context of all training variables. Try it, log it, hypothesize, test it, re-test it. But I almost guarantee how you structure your volume isn't the reason you plateau or can't periodize.
I wouldn’t say I plateau have in a long time. My routine for the past couple years had remained relatively the same. Exercises will switch up but the basic building blocks of it remain the same. I’ve just been pondering if lack of overall volume is leaving some progress on the table. But yeah the only way to know is test and re test. Was just hoping to hear any other experiences with low volume guys that have tried adding in a bit more volume.
 

tren_plz

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I refer to that as 'junk volume' - Its load below your maximal effort. Unless injured or doing a deload i see very little benefit.

If you're beat up, take a week off and up your calories for a couple days.
 

Swifto

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I refer to that as 'junk volume' - Its load below your maximal effort. Unless injured or doing a deload i see very little benefit.

If you're beat up, take a week off and up your calories for a couple days.
Agreed.
 

TheOtherOne55

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Sorry, but i think a lot of people are getting some terms mixed up.
There is reps in reserve and then there's effective reps. Both are different.

OP, you are talking about effective reps. And that is what programs like DC are built on. The toughest reps, where you grind, is where you are making progress and contractile damage. You hit a top set of 12, the first 7 aren't doing much for you at all. So it's getting those grinder reps out. DC does this and Muscle Round (cluster sets) do this.

Reps in reserve is more discussing how to progress in volume and fatigue.
Jordan Peters did it the right way, he hired the guys at Revive Stronger to do his programming. He just didn't like it because his maximal strength plummeted by the end of it. But he was starting doing 4 sets with 4 RIR. It's basically a slow accumulation of fatigue. By the end he was hitting something like 5 sets with 1 or 0 RIR. The volume is high, the fatigue level is high and then you deload. Just another periodization scheme that Mike Israetel sells to the clueless 22 yr olds who have never lifted a weight.

In reality, you can choose 2 sets and go balls out, or 4 sets and hit it at 80%. We've seen both work in several elite level BBers. I've primarily been a top set + back off set guy but have had to adjust my training based on this shutdown stuff. Right now, I have 1-2 loading type movements where I'm logging and pushing hard. The other exercises are meh volume and just there to hit some good volume and fill with blood. But once i get back into the gyms (hopefully in the next week or so) I'll get right back to my normal setup.
 

Joshua82

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Sorry, but i think a lot of people are getting some terms mixed up.
There is reps in reserve and then there's effective reps. Both are different.

OP, you are talking about effective reps. And that is what programs like DC are built on. The toughest reps, where you grind, is where you are making progress and contractile damage. You hit a top set of 12, the first 7 aren't doing much for you at all. So it's getting those grinder reps out. DC does this and Muscle Round (cluster sets) do this.

Reps in reserve is more discussing how to progress in volume and fatigue.
Jordan Peters did it the right way, he hired the guys at Revive Stronger to do his programming. He just didn't like it because his maximal strength plummeted by the end of it. But he was starting doing 4 sets with 4 RIR. It's basically a slow accumulation of fatigue. By the end he was hitting something like 5 sets with 1 or 0 RIR. The volume is high, the fatigue level is high and then you deload. Just another periodization scheme that Mike Israetel sells to the clueless 22 yr olds who have never lifted a weight.

In reality, you can choose 2 sets and go balls out, or 4 sets and hit it at 80%. We've seen both work in several elite level BBers. I've primarily been a top set + back off set guy but have had to adjust my training based on this shutdown stuff. Right now, I have 1-2 loading type movements where I'm logging and pushing hard. The other exercises are meh volume and just there to hit some good volume and fill with blood. But once i get back into the gyms (hopefully in the next week or so) I'll get right back to my normal setup.
Yes this is a great explanation. My though with 2 rir, I will still get 3 effective reps, and I ponder with 2rir could I replace a failure set with 2-3 sets with reps in reserve and get more effective reps while keeping fatigue and ability to recover relatively the same. Hard part will be progressing and making sure to stay in 1-2 rir range.
 

maldorf

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Not all of those last reps you get up to failure are created the same. The very last one or two require activating the most motor units because the others most commonly used are exhausted. I don't think you can replicate that stimulus any other way.
 

madg

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Sorry, but i think a lot of people are getting some terms mixed up.
There is reps in reserve and then there's effective reps. Both are different.

OP, you are talking about effective reps. And that is what programs like DC are built on. The toughest reps, where you grind, is where you are making progress and contractile damage. You hit a top set of 12, the first 7 aren't doing much for you at all. So it's getting those grinder reps out. DC does this and Muscle Round (cluster sets) do this.

Reps in reserve is more discussing how to progress in volume and fatigue.
Jordan Peters did it the right way, he hired the guys at Revive Stronger to do his programming. He just didn't like it because his maximal strength plummeted by the end of it. But he was starting doing 4 sets with 4 RIR. It's basically a slow accumulation of fatigue. By the end he was hitting something like 5 sets with 1 or 0 RIR. The volume is high, the fatigue level is high and then you deload. Just another periodization scheme that Mike Israetel sells to the clueless 22 yr olds who have never lifted a weight.

In reality, you can choose 2 sets and go balls out, or 4 sets and hit it at 80%. We've seen both work in several elite level BBers. I've primarily been a top set + back off set guy but have had to adjust my training based on this shutdown stuff. Right now, I have 1-2 loading type movements where I'm logging and pushing hard. The other exercises are meh volume and just there to hit some good volume and fill with blood. But once i get back into the gyms (hopefully in the next week or so) I'll get right back to my normal setup.
Well said brother 👍🏻
 

homonunculus

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A few thoughts here.

To increase volume during the heavy training of my training system, I have folks leave 1-2 reps in the tank (this was before the RIR term was around) on compound movements during all but the last set, whereas isolation movements can be taken to muscular failure. The last set of a compound movement would be taken to failure safely.

(An advantage of an all out set to failure is that there's no guesswork as to effort in gauging performance - it's all out - so this is a good tool when using a log book to gauge progression.)

As a few guys have mentioned, there's a hell of a difference between stopping 3 reps and 1 rep shy of failure, as well as actually doing to true failure (and even something else to say if the last failure rep is one that someone fights for as long as possible). The main issue is really, I think, how this taxes the nervous system, which is the limiting factor very often for recovery.

So the notion that you can just lump the last 5 reps shy of failure together as equally "effective reps" is overly simplistic.

--- Recovering from leaving 2 reps in the tank vs. 0 RIR can be quite different. And 0 RIR (just not doing a failure rep b/c one's experience suggests that the next rep just isn't going to happen) can similarly be worlds apart from pushing into an "iffy" rep that ends slowly grinding to a halt at a sticking point against which you battle for several seconds during a max effort partial negative. That last rep could be 5 seconds of all out everything you've got effort in some cases...

--- The number of effective reps someone can get from a given set changes per the law of diminishing returns, I suspect. In other words, the more advanced someone is, the less of an effective stimulus it is for growth when stopping, let's say, 3 reps shy of failure. (That stopping point, if all sets were done that way, may not be effective at all, and I think this might have played a role when it came to Jordan's experiences. Sets at 4 RIR just were to easy and really not much of a stimulus at all for him perhaps... ) On the other hand, the more advanced guy can push harder, using heavier loads that take a greater toll on recovery. This explains why many advanced guys (Dorian Yates, being a prime example) find that the stronger and bigger they get, the less (volume) they can recover from. The paradox here is that they have be sure to train really hard (or even harder) to ensure that each set contributes "effective reps" to the training stimulus, which means that volume must be carefully monitored with a big emphasis on recovery.

---------

As far as "junk volume," my understanding of this idea is that it refers to sets that really don't contribute to the training stimulus, e.g., that no "effective reps" were performed b/c
---Effort was low,
---As well as sets that are of high quality (would otherwise contribute effective reps) but are part of a session where the maximal anabolic response has been set in motion by the previous sets (e.g., the last 5 sets of a 15 set session where 10 sets maxes out the stimulus), and/or these junk volume sets are sets that otherwise don't contribute to the stimulus of the session (e.g., the 4th set of an each exercise where doing only 3 sets of each exercise maxes out the stimulus).

Junk volume can also just be those that don't add effective reps b/c the session had dragged on so long and fatigue made it impossible to generate the effort, tension, etc. needed to add to the stimulus. There is something to say for the old school "bro" notion of stopping a workout when one loses the pump: You've probably slowed down (CNS or psychological fatigue, are getting low in glycogen (which can impair performance) and/or simply aren't training hard enough to create the metabolic stress that comes with a good pump, so it's time to call it quits.

In this paper, they refer junk volume as "wasted sets" in the context of training frequency and myofibrillar protein synthesis
1. Dankel SJ, Mattocks KT, Jessee MB, Buckner SL, Mouser JG, Counts BR, Laurentino GC, and Loenneke JP. Frequency: The Overlooked Resistance Training Variable for Inducing Muscle Hypertrophy? Sports Med 47: 799-805, 2017.

"Performing more sets per session while using a lower training frequency may reduce the time spent in a positive net protein balance because the large number of sets performed within a given session may exceed the ‘anabolic limit’, resulting in wasted sets. Additionally, performing more sets within a given session requires greater recovery time, causing muscle protein synthesis to return to basal levels until re-stimulated again during another training session."

-S
 

maldorf

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Another way to add intensity is to have a spotter that helps you do forced reps, reps after you have reached failure. I grew a lot off of that doing belt squats and leg presses assisted. Something you certainly want to periodize and not overdo. Drop sets too. Both require someone to help you .
 

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