Poll: First Set: Balls Out Failure or Not?

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First Set: Balls Out Failure or Not?

  1. She thinks my traps'rrrr sexy!
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    First Set: Balls Out Failure or Not?


    I've been thinking about how my workouts always go. I go balls out on my first set every time, which to me is how I gauge my progress. I usually make a gain whether in reps with the same weight, or a few more pounds for the same reps each week. I've been wondering as to whether or not my scheme is optimal though... really I'm more concerned right now with strength than size.

    Every week my first set is killer, 2nd set is pretty good, 3rd and fourth okay, after that the poundages are waayyyyy lower. For example my chest workout today...

    Flat DB: 100 X 11; Incline DB: 100 X 6; Incline DB 85 X 6; Flat DB 80 X 8

    Since I make gains just about every week (on cycle right now too ), let's say I can press the 100 for 13 next week balls out. My next set I would get 9; and after that 6. 28 reps total.

    Now what if instead I hit 3 sets of 10 with the same 100lb DB. 30 reps total, and probably hitting failure on my 3rd set.

    What are the pros and cons of each scheme?

    My muscle endurance from set to set is really, really sh!tty right now, even since I've been taking Beta-alanine, etc.

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    WRT gauging progress, you don't need to go to absolute failure. Once you start a pattern of leaving 1-2 reps in the tank, it will become the norm from which you judge.

    For example, last week you got 100 x 10 (while leaving a rep or two in the hole), but this week you got 100 x 11 (while leaving a rep or two in the hole).

    IMO, regardless of goals, going to absolute failure should be done very sparsely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShakesAllDay View Post
    WRT gauging progress, you don't need to go to absolute failure. Once you start a pattern of leaving 1-2 reps in the tank, it will become the norm from which you judge.

    For example, last week you got 100 x 10 (while leaving a rep or two in the hole), but this week you got 100 x 11 (while leaving a rep or two in the hole).

    IMO, regardless of goals, going to absolute failure should be done very sparsely.
    shakes, do you go to failure at least once a training session?
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    Yea, focus on performance, not failure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GI2EG View Post
    Yea, focus on performance, not failure.
    HMMM, might need to ratch down my intensity,
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    I go to failure only very rarely when assessing max number of reps and max one time rep. I overtrain very easily so I avoid sets to failure.
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    If its working for you stick with it until it quits working. You may want to have a deload week. Like training 3-4 weeks heavy and then doing 1 week of lighter training. This well help prevent your nervous system from burning out. If your going for strength you may want to drop your reps some and use heavier weight.
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    i always work my workouts so i can have steady strength and failure by last set of each exercise... i tend to make faster strength gains this way and gauge my progess off of that last sets increase in strength.... if i were to go balls out first set YA i could add 5-7 extra reps or another 25-30 lbs BUT then the rest of my wrokout would suffer..... i feel i still put up good weight my last sets and know that im doin it on the last of my fumes and really wearing out my muscles.

    any way im ahppy with my gains this way and would def suggest it if you feel your current regimine isnt giving you good gains.
    Last edited by poopypants; 06-01-2007 at 01:12 PM.
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    I think it vary's from each person. Some ppl overtrain real easy and some its hard to overtrain at all. i know for me i can do 20 sets for biceps and they grow. i don't overtrain very easy at all and i go to failure every set.
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    true that.. thats why i suggested IF hes not making progress try something diff... but you know what they say... "if it aint broke...."
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    Quote Originally Posted by poopypants View Post
    true that.. thats why i suggested IF hes not making progress try something diff... but you know what they say... "if it aint broke...."
    ya i know you posted like 2 secs before me so i didn't see your until i was done typing mine...

    and i agree with you 100%.
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    All sets to failure here.


    I began working out with a trainer last fall who takes me to failure on every set. My focus is strength and recovery. We have three sessions a week, one hour long with some PNF stretching at the end. We’ve worked up to an intensity level that really surprises me. At 64 and going into this with 30 years of experience I thought I would over train quickly. Yet this doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve had two breaks, one week and two weeks otherwise I’ve made every workout. I start a two week break this coming Friday.

    The week is divided into chest/tris, back/shoulders/bis & legs. The core lifts are incline db, dead lifts & squats. The core gets 4 or 5 work sets followed by another 3, 4 or 5 work sets second and sometimes third exercise for around eight to ten to failure work sets. No workouts are the same. Some are heavy low rep with more rest and others are lighter, more reps, fast paced. Some are with explosive reps others with slow no momentum pace.

    Example- today, legs: three warm-up sets pyramid up light squats alt with single leg bench step-ups. Work sets (all below 90 or rep not counted):

    Sqs, 215x11-215x8-195x9-135x10 (*ss to grass) 135x7 (a to g with 1-2 sec pause and breath at bottom) Trainer: “I want to see a stain on the floor”.

    Leg press- single leg, no rest between legs, 1 min between sets: 70x30, 70x21 Trainer down on the floor talking “it’s all mental- forget the pain, you’ve got at least 10 more reps”. (I want to yell out MY BUTTS ON FIRE.) Then rep out with both legs 340x11. I don’t know where I got 11 reps.

    Triset- body weight lunges immediately to leg curls immediately to leg extensions – 2 rounds with no stopping, to failure on each set.

    PNF stretching.

    Failure- for squats it used to be form break. Now I’m holding form well and need a bump through my sticking point. Sometimes we’ll rep out with less depth, less depth, less depth until I can barely stand up.

    Failure- for dead lifts, form break- round my back or can’t snap back my shoulders to complete the rep. Back rounding doesn’t happen often any more.

    The workouts are INTENSE. I’m doing focused pre and post workout nutrition. I seem to recover really well and feel great after just a little down time. The way I feel the rest of the time is what makes the pain of the workout worthwhile. I tell myself that every time I’m starting a workout and it has consistently turned out that way. DOMs? You bet but it pleases me to know that I really got to what I want to work on. The other thing is that I’m getting wild pumps. That feels great also.
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    Oh yeah, this poll is for WORK SETS only, not including warmup. Obvious you'd think.
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    Quote Originally Posted by peece View Post
    shakes, do you go to failure at least once a training session?
    No.

    Once my form breaks (usually 2-3 reps shy of absolute failure) I stop the set.

    The only things I may go to failure on are weighted dips and pullups. I choose these because they allow a very natural motion (moving the body away/toward a fixed point instead of moving weight away/toward the body), even under the circumstances of failure. A slight shift in posture allows me to complete my final failure rep while maintaining natural position.

    IMO, this cannot be achieved in the same fashion when moving weight away/toward the body.
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