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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:33 am 
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This is taken from the drsquat forum.

++++
"High-intensity training was made popular in the early 1970's by Arthur Jones, the inventor of the Nautilus range of exercise machines. In those days, training for two hours twice a day was considered normal.

Jones caused controversy when he claimed that you could actually get better results with very short infrequent workouts. Progress with a high-intensity training program is supposed to be immediate and continuous.

In other words, you're supposed to get stronger every workout until you reach your genetic limits. If you're not growing and gaining strength every time you go to the gym, it's because either you're not training hard enough, or you're training too often. The solution is to push yourself harder, or insert more rest days into your program.

Contrary to popular belief, there's little evidence to show that taking an exercise to the point of concentric muscle failure is necessary to stimulate gains in muscle strength.

In one trial carried in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers compared two nine-week training programs [1]. The high fatigue program consisted of four sets of 10 repetitions with 30 seconds of rest between sets. The low fatigue program involved 40 repetitions with 30 seconds of rest between each repetition.

Both programs were performed three times per week. In other words, the number of repetitions performed by both groups was identical.

After four weeks, the group on the high fatigue program was 50% stronger than the low fatigue group. However, the differences in strength between groups reduced over time. After nine weeks of training, the high fatigue group was 18% stronger than at the start of the study. The low fatigue group was 15% stronger.

An Australian research group based at the University of Sydney report similar results [2]. Their study shows that when a weight is lifted repeatedly 6-10 times without resting between repetitions (high fatigue), the strength gains are roughly 40% greater than when the same load is lifted an equal number of times with a 30-second rest between each lift (low fatigue). However, the low fatigue group was still 40% stronger at the end of the study.

Researchers from Appalachian State University have also shown that training to the point of concentric muscle failure is not necessary to stimulate gains in muscle strength [3].

Seventeen college-age women were assigned to one of two eight-week training programs. The first group performed one set (8-12 repetitions) of each exercise to the point of muscular failure (the point where performing another repetition in strict form is impossible).

Group two used multiple sets not taken to muscular failure, explosive lifting speeds and low repetitions. The exercises used by both groups, however, were the same."

The bottom line is that your muscles will still grow stronger even when they're not subjected to concentric muscle failure on a regular basis.

Also, as failure occurs, form deteriorates and the risk of injury increases...stay away from failure. If you feel like you are not getting enough work, increase the volume in sets or total weight.

Jeffrey Vaughn
++++

I hope that clears up any mistunderstandings had about training to failure being good for you.

Jeffrey Vaughn is a well respected powerlifter and I think the studies speak for themselves regardless of whether or not you think him a valid source.
Ryan


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 11:56 am 
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Have there been any studies about combining failure and non-failure training? It would be interesting to see the difference in strength gains among three groups -- one who alternated failure and non-failure, one who did straight failure, and one who did straight non-failure.


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 Post subject: Failure - foo foo
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:12 pm 
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I personally have not seen any advantage in training to failure for the many reasons pointed out in the study posted.

Personally, i prefer to use the less is more approach and leave a little in the gas tank for tomorrow.

I learned the hard way, of course - training to failure = injuries. Once i got sick of being sick and/or hurt all the time, i finally changed my ways.

Thanks for the post Ryan, like the article. Others should find it informative, if not helpful.

Happy lifting,
Bill


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 1:02 pm 
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To Drew,

Although I am not familiar with any studies on your question, the people on the westside train of thought do incorporate both types of training into their workouts.

They have three types of days which are maximal effort(ME) where you train above 90% and try to hit a personal record(PR), dynamic effort(DE) where they train near 50% for maximum speed(I always argue this is a form of max effort training as well because they do repeated sets of 2-3 reps until their speed declines), and finally repetition training (RE for repeated effort) where they do high reps at sub 40% weights often for time rather than rep count (ie doing a fixed cadence for up to 8 minutes).

More so than anyone these guys have utilized training to failure however they do so successfully by a constant rotation of their lifts, switching exercises sometimes week to week for the ME days. They use RE sparingly and use DE as a staple for training form and explosiveness. These gusy are powerlifters though and I think that for the average guy looking to get fit, there is no need for this approach which is why I have moved away from it recently. I gave it a shot for a while and learned a lot about training and still incorporate some of their exercises and ideas into my training but have modified the particular structure to suit my needs. Some of the westside lifters have also modified but the bulk of them still follow the main structure listed above.

To summarize, I think training to failure has its place but for the most part you can get by leaving 1-2 in the tank as Bill mentioned and you do not have to agonize as much with soreness between workouts. That said, I believe many westside lifters use substances that help their recovery abilities although I do not want to claim this to be absolute fact so take that with a grain of salt.

I hope that partially helps Drew,

Ryan


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 3:04 pm 
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I actually consider form deterioration to be failure. On something like deadlift or squats you get that feeling that you can't maintain form for another rep. So, I stop there and that to me is failure. Then there is something like bench press where not being able to do another rep happens at the same time where the point of failure is a little more cut and dry.

Either it doesn't matter or it is different for everyone. I get gains doing it one way and others get gains from another method. I have found for me that going to failure with 3 to 4 minute rests works pretty well and allows me to do the fewest number of sets. For me I need intensity or volume to get that fatigue feeling. I usually only have minor soreness. More of a tight feeling then sore really.

So are you saying that you can just hit every muscle 3 times, never to failure and get the same gains. Or are you talking more sets?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:35 pm 
Ryan A wrote:
To Drew,

Although I am not familiar with any studies on your question, the people on the westside train of thought do incorporate both types of training into their workouts.

They have three types of days which are maximal effort(ME) where you train above 90% and try to hit a personal record(PR), dynamic effort(DE) where they train near 50% for maximum speed(I always argue this is a form of max effort training as well because they do repeated sets of 2-3 reps until their speed declines), and finally repetition training (RE for repeated effort) where they do high reps at sub 40% weights often for time rather than rep count (ie doing a fixed cadence for up to 8 minutes).

More so than anyone these guys have utilized training to failure however they do so successfully by a constant rotation of their lifts, switching exercises sometimes week to week for the ME days. They use RE sparingly and use DE as a staple for training form and explosiveness. These gusy are powerlifters though and I think that for the average guy looking to get fit, there is no need for this approach which is why I have moved away from it recently. I gave it a shot for a while and learned a lot about training and still incorporate some of their exercises and ideas into my training but have modified the particular structure to suit my needs. Some of the westside lifters have also modified but the bulk of them still follow the main structure listed above.

To summarize, I think training to failure has its place but for the most part you can get by leaving 1-2 in the tank as Bill mentioned and you do not have to agonize as much with soreness between workouts. That said, I believe many westside lifters use substances that help their recovery abilities although I do not want to claim this to be absolute fact so take that with a grain of salt.

I hope that partially helps Drew,

Ryan

Thanks, Ryan. I've been doing my own program of 10 reps to failure, circuit-style. And when I reach 10, the next time I increase the weight and shoot for 10 again. I've only been doing this for a few months, so I still haven't hit my failure point on some exercises -- I started with low weight and have been slowly increasing it in order to prefect my form in anticipation of heavier weights down the road.

Though I plan to change my routine when I stop seeing progress. Unfortunatley, never having done this, I'm not quite sure how long it will take!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 4:54 pm 
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Drew,

Circuit training is a bit different as with shorter rest times you are necessarily limiting the intensity you can possibly achieve during the lift so going to failure is probably not hurting you. In addition since you still havent really failed, I am sure you will not feel extra tired from going to "failure", ie getting the 10 reps.

Sonny,

I am also familiar with this idea and think this is a good indicator of when to stop although this is not failure with regard to the muscles inability to contract, this is a synergist muscle breaking down from fatigue or simply not being strong enough to do the rep correctly.

I would say be careful with bench press because I dont think technical failure always happens at the same time as muscle failure.

When you say you get gains, what type of training are you doing? For muscle growth or for strength?

"So are you saying that you can just hit every muscle 3 times, never to failure and get the same gains. Or are you talking more sets?"

I am not quite sure what you mean by hitting every muscle 3 times. Do you mean in full body workouts? My original explanation was for someone looking for fat loss so this training is different than training for absolute strength. I (personally) usually do not work the same muscle more than once in a workout. I do not do bodypart workouts at all and usually train push/pull or upper/lower or focus on a lift in particular and all muscles associated with that lift. I use a variety of rest schemes depending on what my current goal is and use circuits and supersets. I am not sure if that is what you are asking. As far as failure goes, when I go to muscles failure I usually cant workout for a while. Technical failure usually is okay often I stop a little short of that.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:25 pm 
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Let's say squats for example. I do 3 sets to the point where something is fatigued enough to where I would not be able to maintain form for another rep. Are you saying I could lower the weight slightly so I could get all the reps without quite getting to failure and just do the 3 sets, or would you need to do more sets?

I could kind of see it working with more sets. With triceps for example, they get worked in 5 sets of different presses. Then at the end I do 1 isolation set to failure. I go for mass by the way, although I do get some strength gains. I've found that building muscle mass makes me loose body fat better then anything else. My weight doesn't go down much but cloths keep getting looser.

It could have something to do with body type or something like that. I'm not a hard gainer at all. It is very hard for me to lose fat though. Fortunatly for me I don't have much to go.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:09 pm 
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Well, I guess I am still a bit confused as to why we are questioning 3 sets. This is no magic number for all. Each person should find the volume that works for them.

Your example of squats is good and yes I think that one could simply lower the weight or do fewer reps that day. The next day he does the exercise, one could use the same weight and may get those last 2-3 reps they previously missed. Often one can fall short as you say on a final set and still increase the weight and then fall short again or even get the full rep range. Leaving a few reps in the tank just guarentees shorter recovery times without loss of gains.

For example, most periodization schemes have you start off doing 60-70% and then move up to 80-90% and then back down to 75% where you move up again to 95%. By lowering the percentage after the 80-90% training, the body can recover better and be fresh for the training at even higher percentages of 95% and 100%. Usually you dont even need to go to failure. You just train and make gains and get stronger. As you progress as a lifter I believe this becomes less successful as it would dictate forever success which certainly does not happen, people reaching genetic limits and limits of their training etc. Conjugate routines try to fix this by addressing more exercises but they still cycle regulary to avoid overtaxing.

For example, you can train squats for 2 weeks, switch to front squats, snatch grip deadlifts, plus often extensive training of assistance exercises which address weak points for each lifter. Since similar muscles are used but in different ways you are becoming a better all around lifter, rather than just a great squatter, BUT becoming a better all around lifter yields positive steps in becoming a great squatter plus all your other success.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:58 pm 
Ryan A wrote:
Drew,

Circuit training is a bit different as with shorter rest times you are necessarily limiting the intensity you can possibly achieve during the lift so going to failure is probably not hurting you. In addition since you still havent really failed, I am sure you will not feel extra tired from going to "failure", ie getting the 10 reps.


I started out by circuit training because of a seminar at work. It was a good starting point because it got my body used to the movements and it provided me a template (didn't know about this site then!). Now, after four months, I'm trying to make the transition to bodybuilding by going heavier on different muscle groups on different days and incorporating longer rests for those exercises. One the days I go heavy on one muscle group, I go a bit lighter on the others. I'm trying to target at least six months of full body workouts before I decide to change anything.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:02 pm 
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Anonymous wrote:
Ryan A wrote:
Drew,

Circuit training is a bit different as with shorter rest times you are necessarily limiting the intensity you can possibly achieve during the lift so going to failure is probably not hurting you. In addition since you still havent really failed, I am sure you will not feel extra tired from going to "failure", ie getting the 10 reps.


I started out by circuit training because of a seminar at work. It was a good starting point because it got my body used to the movements and it provided me a template (didn't know about this site then!). Now, after four months, I'm trying to make the transition to bodybuilding by going heavier on different muscle groups on different days and incorporating longer rests for those exercises. One the days I go heavy on one muscle group, I go a bit lighter on the others. I'm trying to target at least six months of full body workouts before I decide to change anything.

That was me, BTW. I'm not used to being able to post in forums without having to log in!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 1:07 pm 
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3 being a hypothetical number. I was just wondering if you have to do more sets. I would think you would, but I think you are saying you don't. If 3 sets to failure does the trick, not going to failure you might need 5 or 6. Who knows though, it must be different for everyone. I just know I can do 3 to failure, or I can do 5 sets moving up with only 1 to failure and less rest. That's just in general though, some muscles I might only target once because they were used in other compound lifts.

I always thought it was intensity vs volume and if you have less of 1 you need more of the other.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 2:39 pm 
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sonnygll wrote:
3 being a hypothetical number. I was just wondering if you have to do more sets. I would think you would, but I think you are saying you don't. If 3 sets to failure does the trick, not going to failure you might need 5 or 6. Who knows though, it must be different for everyone. I just know I can do 3 to failure, or I can do 5 sets moving up with only 1 to failure and less rest. That's just in general though, some muscles I might only target once because they were used in other compound lifts.

I always thought it was intensity vs volume and if you have less of 1 you need more of the other.


Sort of. High intensity will tax your CNS system. CNS recovery takes a lot longer than muscle recovery. So, training to failure means training less frequently to allow for recovery. Not really due to muscular failure as your individual motor units are being recruited and failing and rerecruited whenever possible. Plus it all depends on your goals. For strength, training to failure with heavier weights helps with the neural training aspect. When training for size you're not really looking to get dramatic increases in neural ability because you can get muscle growth without it. Your muscles will almost always 'fail' during any workout that includes a weight that's more than 50% of your one rep max for the respective exercise you're doing. Making sure your CNS doesn't fail is key to being able to train more frequently while avoiding overtraining. The easy path to this is to leave some gas in the tank, don't go for that absolute last rep. The technical failure method is a pretty good way of maintaining a good work volume.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 10:46 pm 
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I agree with CDB. Good stuff. One thing to add, I still think 3 sets not to failure would be fine. The point of the studies is you will make similar gains in the long run by simply not training to failure on the sets you are currently doing.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:32 am 
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Ryan A wrote:
I agree with CDB. Good stuff. One thing to add, I still think 3 sets not to failure would be fine. The point of the studies is you will make similar gains in the long run by simply not training to failure on the sets you are currently doing.


Yup. Minus CNS failure, volume is basically whatever you can handle without hurting yourself, be it one, three or ten sets.

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