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"Trying to fail" vs. Lifting with as much intensity as possible

Biggerp73

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Back when I was starting out, it was popular to hear guys say "the muscle doesn't know how much weight it's lifting," and "try to make 185lbs feel like 315lbs" and "the only rep that counts is the rep you hit failure on."

Often times with this approach, my goal entering a set would be to fail. I'd try to make every rep as hard as possible, and try to fail as quick as possible, try to make the weight as difficult as possible to lift.

But is this really the best way to grow?

Think about the following two approaches. John Doe approaches 275lbs on the incline bench. He can either (a) try to make the weight as difficult as possible and try to fail, or (b) set a number of reps in his mind, and with the best form he can, fire those reps off with the most explosive, insane, violent intensity as he can on the concentric, and a smooth, slow, controlled eccentric.

In scenario (a) he hits failure, and can only do a limited number of sets. In scenario (b) the number of reps he hits is 2-3 below his failure point, and because of this, he is able to do a lot more sets and volume with the same weight.

I know for me, approach (b) definitely leads to faster recovery and better strength gains, although I haven't tried approach (a) consistently since I was 21, because everytime I do hit failure, my next workout I feel much weaker and like I didn't recover.
 

prodaf

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The last video from John Meadows is a response to your question ;)
 

USMuscle9403

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For me, personally, I may have decent genetics, but I've always had to put everything into it and train to failure if I want to see progress. The conundrum is that I LIKE to train with volume lol. Or at least highest I can handle, if you're going to true failure, you're only going to be able to handle so much.

PS Muscle Rounds still suck shit and Dr Scott Stevenson can fuck off. They really take me to the limit.
 

jeroendebleser

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This will be a never ending debate. Just do what works for you, that's all that matters right?

Rather than trying to look for the ideal workout, just make sure you're not doing something that doesn't work.
 

USMuscle9403

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This will be a never ending debate. Just do what works for you, that's all that matters right?

Rather than trying to look for the ideal workout, just make sure you're not doing something that doesn't work.
Yep this is pretty much it. Even though Ronnie had probably the best genetics out there, even he had a genetic anomaly that meant he needed to train high volume, high intensity, heavy AND high frequency in order to stimulate muscle growth in him. Some guys can go in and do just pump work and they grow fine.

If it works, do it. If it doesn't work, don't do it.
 

KillerStack

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Some thought related to this. Some think you should make the exercise as hard as possible. But you can't trust your emotions automatically. If you set up correctly, in a way that maximizes output from the target muscle is best, even if you hardly feel it.
For an example: minimizing scapular movement on laterals, this can lower output from the delt no matter how much it "burns".

There are many bbers who are always talking about going to war in the gym and bragging about their hardcore attitude. Take Guy Cisternino. Not once have I seen him go to failure or strain on a rep. When he starts grinding, he either starts swinging the weights or gets a spot. But he is very impressed with his performancd and lets out a yell. Most recently he made a vid of him sqeezing sweat from a shirt lol. I sweat more some nights just sleeping :D
 

Fa Seeshus

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Periodize and do both. Dunno why we always have to turn everything into this vs that.

Training to failure get's a bad rap because a few assclowns engage in gym theatrics to make everyone know how hard they are training 🙄
 

tren_plz

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I've never seen a guy with a small chest bench 405.

Obviously more than one to to win in this game. Load matters..
 

Tom

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Everything is right and everything is wrong! Since this covid crap came along and my gym is closed I'm training at home with nothing more than resistance bands. My sets end well before failure, workouts are 20-25 minutes, strength is probably tanked but my physique has not suffered one bit........go figure!
 

beastmode121

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I think both have their place in training.
only thing I want to add ia guys kill thenselves in the beginning sets or warm up sets leading to the last heavy set and that shouldn’t be the case
 

xpoc

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I've never seen a guy with a small chest bench 405.

Obviously more than one to to win in this game. Load matters..
I used to compete in powerlifting. I have seen plenty of small dudes move huge poundages. They utilize leverage, technique and train specifically to move the weight from point A to point B. In many cases, they DON'T want to add muscle because it puts them in a heavier weight class. Decorative muscle does nothing for them...polar opposite to a bodybuilder. And here is a guy with a small chest benching over 405.
 

thethinker48

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I'd say over time the quality of my reps has increased exponentially.

A lot of exercises were far more twitchy and spastic 3 years ago than they are now. It's like the body has grown neural patterns for these reps, and knows how to execute them more efficiently now. Less energy wasted in between sets, no more "amping up" before sets, it's just a switch now that turns on and you go back to normal.

Chris Bumstead is an excellent example of form; guy's form is impeccable when training; you can tell that guy was gifted with being able to connect with the muscle from a young age.

I'm also too damn scared to do some of the things I'd do even a few years ago; and I'm one of the younger guys here
 

angus62

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I used to compete in powerlifting. I have seen plenty of small dudes move huge poundages. They utilize leverage, technique and train specifically to move the weight from point A to point B. In many cases, they DON'T want to add muscle because it puts them in a heavier weight class. Decorative muscle does nothing for them...polar opposite to a bodybuilder. And here is a guy with a small chest benching over 405.
Chest looks pretty big for a 154 pound guy. Doubt it would look like that if he benched 185. Tjeres always exceptions but using your example specifically. You ever seen a guy that can bench double his bodyweight for 10 reps raw have a skinny upper body in general? I would love to see an example.
4121FBB2-E8DB-4E11-B6F5-5CF1EB99B8C7.jpeg
 

USMuscle9403

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I'd say over time the quality of my reps has increased exponentially.

A lot of exercises were far more twitchy and spastic 3 years ago than they are now. It's like the body has grown neural patterns for these reps, and knows how to execute them more efficiently now. Less energy wasted in between sets, no more "amping up" before sets, it's just a switch now that turns on and you go back to normal.

Chris Bumstead is an excellent example of form; guy's form is impeccable when training; you can tell that guy was gifted with being able to connect with the muscle from a young age.

I'm also too damn scared to do some of the things I'd do even a few years ago; and I'm one of the younger guys here
Yes, after all these years, it seems like my mind muscle connection just gets better and better. And in the end, that along with the intensity is the key for growth. For me, that's beating the logbook. I can't beat reps and sets every exercise, but how much better a movement feels is unquantative but still counts as progress, in my book.
 

tren_plz

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I knew as soon as i posted that I'd see a bunch of twerps benching 405.

Y'all know what i mean.
 

xpoc

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..... I sure have
Right! I have seen rail thin guys deadlift 5-6 plates too. Every skinny teenage bro at my gym is pulling 4 plates now. After all these years I am certain that moving the most weight isn't not the most critical factor to hypertrophy. Heck, Fred Hatfield had some pretty unimpressive legs by bodybuilding standards and he was squatting a grand. This is getting a bit off topic though because the original discussion was going to failure vs. keeping some in the tank to add volume.
 

USMuscle9403

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Power is about leverages and tendon strength as much as it is muscle. Look at the tendons of really strong guys... Fuckers have tendons like steel cables.
 

Elvia1023

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There are just simply too many possible ways up the mountain and certain routes are faster for some than others but like most things it varies. It's an endless discussion so just pick what you prefer and experiment to find that out. Everyone who trains brutally hard to failure consistently within no breaks usually ends up injured so you have to take that into consideration and be smart when it comes to volume, recovery and changing systems from time to time. Some guys do great not going to true failure and increasing the volume and if they can stay injury free then great. There are just too many factors in all of this and quite frankly both ways will be fine for everyone. Although I can't understand how anyone wouldn't want to go to failure in the gym... it's part of the process for me.

I believe in hitting failure but using sensible volume in regards to working sets. Then all your effort goes into recovery. If a smart approach is used I don't see why most can't train fairly frequently. Your frequency is going to be dictated by your genetics, intensity, diet and sleep etc. I can pretty much go crazy intense (PPL) twice every 7-8 days as long as all other variables are in place. If they aren't in place I will simply burn out.

It was going off topic but just like you get guys who are strong with poor development it's just as common getting guys with good development who are weak. Obviously genetics is everything. I see many guys who can barely press 2pps for 5 reps with good chests. I see guys with good chests struggling with 1.5pps quite a lot. There are guys who have big calves from minimal training which is another example of genetics. Although the chest thing is especially common. I also see a lot of strong guys with poor development so it's not as clear cut as some think. Loads of guys who have terrible backs can deadlift 4-5pps as another example.

Obviously if you can bench press 60kg for 10 reps in your 1st year and get that up to 260kg for 10 reps by year 10 you are going to have a bigger chest. Although I never like using bench press as the example exercise as I could press heavy at 23 and my chest was terrible. Especially with some of the bigger movements you can move weight without hitting the target muscle effectively (leverages, tendons etc). At 26 or so I could hack squat 8-10pps for deep reps and my legs were shit whereas my mate had decent quads and could barely do 2pps. I remember training with that mate one of the first times I ever went into a proper gym and I maxed out the horizontal leg press for over 20 reps and he couldn't even lift it up once and I genuinely had stick legs at 16 :eek: Whilst progressive overload is vital it's clear that strength and development aren't as connected as some people think.
 

Cv215

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Idk I've been to about a dozen powerlifting meets in the last few years and i can honestly say I've never seen someone with no chest bench 405. An over 400lb bench is actually a pretty decent number. The strongest 198ers in the world are benching between 400-450. Ben pollack had all time raw at 198 squatting and dlifting close to 800 and his bench was around 435.

Once you get into the 220s is when you start cracking really big benches. Of course there's always bench specialists in lighter classes but those dont apply. Yah anyone benching over 400 is going to have a little chest size.

That UFpowerlifter kid in that video above is an outlier for sure. Thats why everyone and their mother posts his video. If you're in the 160s with an over 400lb bench you are STRONG. I know just one kid like this personally. Hes 165 with these tiny legs and this thick thick chest. Those skinny legs allow him to squat and dead 600 and 700lbs though.
 

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