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the life of a set?
Old Tue, February 21st, 2012, 12:32 AM   #1
Fiddleback is offline
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Default the life of a set?

ok, i'm getting conflicting info about when to quit on a set. lets take a set of bench presses and i will walk though my set. i keep hearing the only growth is the last couple sets where you put all the strain on the muscle.

then ive heard you need to quit two sets before failure.

so i grab the 75 lbs dumbells and lay down on the bench with the target range of 10 in my mind.


slowing down....6 still comes up easy....slowing a little more and with 87 i can feel the muscle start to burn.

8 has started to slow down and a lot of effort goes into getting it up.

9 his a strain and barely travels up...but goes all the way to the top and the elbows lock out...barley made it.

10 goes 1/4 the way up, then the real struggle begins...half up...half way there...up a little higher to 5/8 and thats as far as she goes...i struggle with everything i have, but the wall is hit.

the weights come back down and for shits and giggles, i squeeze out a couple partial reps...maybe 1/6 of the move...just to send the muscles a message.

is this to far to take a set? i usually do 3-5 sets per body part of one exercise per training session. i try to push each set to this level of intensity.

should i stop at 8...or perhaps the 9th rep as described above?
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Old Tue, February 21st, 2012, 03:50 AM   #2
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Stop when form breaks down
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Old Tue, February 21st, 2012, 01:06 PM   #3
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What are you training for? Improving your physique? Strength? Athletics?

I'd usually use 10 reps per set when my main goal is to induce hypertrophy. I often train to failure or close to failure when this is the goal. So, I'd have stopped when I failed during rep 10 and recorded 9 or 10F for the number of reps in my training log. However, I might have stopped after rep 8 if I still had a number of sets to complete for the muscle group. In that case, I might have saved hitting failure for the last few sets of the workout for the muscle group.

I hardly ever employ partials (other than as independent exercises), so, if you're building your routine around them, I can't offer you much advice.

If performance was my main goal, I'd probably stopped at rep 6, as I subscribe to the idea that bar speed should remain close to maximal for the duration of the set. Additionally, I'd probably be training the same muscle group as many as 3-4x per week, using similar large compound exercises, so I wouldn't want to fry my CNS by taking multiple sets and exercises to failure that often.

Regardless of the goal, I always stop a set if my form breaks down. This does not always happen before I've reached failure, but, when it does, I stop the set early.
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Last edited by chicanerous; Tue, February 21st, 2012 at 01:37 PM..
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Old Wed, February 22nd, 2012, 05:08 PM   #4
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Dont think there is a clear cut answer to this question ,everyones bodies are different . some people Who do H.I.T can just do one set to failure and trigger the stimulus for hypertrophy to occur .other advocate trainig in the 8-12 reps (increase weight once u hit 12 reps ) for best hypertrophy. Some people can get away with traing to failure every session others will Burn out so train to short of failure ( keep one in the tank) i believe as long
you are CONSISTENTLY And progressively OVERloading your muscles on a week to week basis they will eventually grow.( as long as your Nutrition and sleep is in check as this is ultra important ).
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Last edited by user786; Wed, February 22nd, 2012 at 05:11 PM..
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Old Thu, February 23rd, 2012, 10:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Fiddleback View Post
i keep hearing the only growth is the last couple sets where you put all the strain on the muscle.
^^ This sounds like broscience.

Honestly, micromanaging your training to this level, IMO, doesn't make much of a difference. I personally usually go to about 1 rep prior to failure. On squats, sometimes I'll do multiple sets where I come nowhere near failure.

If I were to give a hard and fast simple rule, I would say something similar to Rober2006 ... Stop once your form starts to break down.
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