Intensity Question ~~~
Okay, I've always struggled with this.....
How do you define "Intense enough to generate growth?"
I workout in my garage (somewhat nicely equipped) which has a squat rack, bench, elleptical trainer, and treadmill, along with dumbells up to 90 lbs.
I've never really worked out in a gym, or with another training partner, so I don't really know how to gauge when I'm getting it right.
Do you work for a pump, or a burn, or to failure?
Also, does your target intensity level change if you're hitting the same body part multiple times a week, or only one time per week.
Currently, I'm doing a MWF setup
With one day of cardio ~ after the Chest/Tri Day.
Working on contest prep ~~~ Show date June 15th ~~~~
Soooo many variables. For bodybuilding purposes, a safe bet is training to concentric failure, or just shy of it, for relatively low volume (4-6 working sets for most body parts). Go to failure with the exercises that you can safely do so, and stop just short with the balance. If you train alone always make sure you have safety catches for movements like bench pressing and squats.
Chris: Thanks for taking the time to answer the most basic of questions (which has nevertheless had me stumped for most of my lifting career). I have always just targeted "feeling a burn" and then next day soreness... if I was a little sore, it was good, if I was really sore, I'd dial the intensity back some the next time through. If I wasn't sore at all, it was time to dial up the intensity....
Originally Posted by chris mason
Unfortunately I have rarely gone to failure (except on chinups, etc) ~ because of the lack of a spotter (even though I have safety catches on my bench and rack).
Also ~ just to clarify: When would you target concentric failure or the point just shy of it? I'm assuming that would be in the last set, but this may be because a big part of my early routines was centered around GVT ~ in which the first 6-7 sets were not challenging, and the last 3-4 got harder & harder).
I know you're not a fan of GVT, but because I'm training without a spotter, it's always been intellectually easier/ prefered even, for me to work with higher volume & less weight.
Here's my personal opinion and it has nothing to do with reps or a training style. I try to leave it all in the gym, leave no stone unturned and that rep you quit on might be the difference between first and second place on that stage.
Now on to training.. How long have you been training for this show? Can you give us an example of you current work outs for each day? Is there a reason you don't have a day dedicated to shoulder development?
In my personal experiences, training to failure had yielded me the most gains.
Do you work for a pump, or a burn, or to failure?
None of the above if I can help it. Occasionally my assistance work will give me a little burn or pump, but that's just cause it is higher rep, it isn't something I try to achieve.
I know Chris already answered this for you, but he's not alone in it. I also try to avoid failure, and set myself up so I am always progressing. Also when I'm on like my last set where I am trying to get as many reps as possible, I don't do it till I fail, I do it just shy of that until you know you can't get another.
This helps in more ways than you think. You are setting yourself up mentally to succeed and some may think you are missing out or not pushing yourself hard enough but it is the opposite. By letting yourself fail you train yourself to do that more and more, and when it feels too hard you go to press it but not give it everything you got. Many times I have been on my last reps and pressed up stuff if I had a different mind set it would have buried me, you'll find you push up a weight that if you had been practicing going to failure, it would have been a missed rep.
I also always train to make later sets harder. And sometimes utilize "1 working set". Many times I will do less reps with lower weight and more reps with the higher weight as well. It works, always moving something or everything up, and moving up from session to session.
I have always been a proponent of training to failure, although there are different ways of reaching that point. Some individuals will use volume as a way to reach failure - whether all in one rest/pause set such as in DC Training or over the course of multiple sets like in GVT (German Volume Training). Others may use progressively heavier weights to reach a point of failure; and the final option would be to extend your sets using drop-sets, giant-sets, or super-sets.
Regardless of how you are working to failure I would still advise you to train with a high level of conviction and intensity if you want to optimize your gains. Just like with anything else the more you put into your training the more you will get out of it (assuming that you are following an effective program, eating appropriately, etc.).
Man ~ I replied, and somehow got kicked off the forum without it taking ~ so here is the second attempt.
Originally Posted by Matthew Bryduck
The reason there is no shoulder day is because "Chest/ Shoulders & Triceps Day" ~~~added to the fact that my shoulder is somewhat inflamed, and I'm in physical therapy 2x per week to address that issue.
Here is my routine by the numbers ~
Keep in mind that the last time I did a true shoulder workout (that wasn't Physical Therapy), was October 8th 2012, and the last time I was able to get in a true chest workout 28 October (and that was cut short due to shoulder tenderness) ~ so I'm losing here, but there's nothing that can be done about it, except give it time to heal, and follow the PT.
Incidentally, the shoulder issue started a few years ago, and has progressively gotten worse and worse over time. I slept on it funny, maybe a year or two ago, and it has not been right since. At one time I was Standing OHPing 185 lbs ~ which was starting to be an "not terrible number," but 6 weeks ago, I could not take my shirt off without pain, and any type of pressing movement was simply inconceivable.
The Orthopedic is convinced it was an inflammation issue (after looking at the MRI), and administered a cortizone shot and prescribed the PT. The PT guys are low weight, high rep guys, and my shoulder feels like it is on fire within 10 minutes of my arrival until I leave an hour and a half later.
Routine looks like this:
A Day: Back & Biceps
Chinups 2x15 1xmax
T-Bar Rows 5x12
1 Arm DB Rows: 3x12
Cross Face Hammer Curls: 5x12
EZ Curl Bar: 2xmax
Shrugs: 3x50 (light weights & high reps due to the shoulder)
B Day: Legs (My leg routine is limited by L-5 which was fractured" in 1991-ish, and has been herniated at least 10 different times since then (3 times deadlifting, 1 time squatting, 1 time sneezing, the rest playing soccer). I say that to say, that my leg program is catered to preventing back injuries ~ so squats are a light weight accessory in many respects. I played soccer competitively until I was 35, and also raced bicycles for about 3 years. Before I stopped riding, I had 27 - 28 inch quads and 18 inch calves, and a 30 inch waist (this was when I weighted about 175 - 180 lbs). Other than racing, and playing soccer, I never actually trained my lower body. I say all that to say that my leg development isn't tied to the squat (lol) ~ and my back is thankful. Unfortunately, my legs got smaller as became more of a bodybuilder (crazy I know, but it is what it is). Right now, my quads are 25.5 right now and calves at 17.5 inches ~~~ everything seems to be growing again now that I've added the elliptical sprint work.
Elliptical: (set on 30 degree incline, resistance at 6 of 12, walking backwards creates a hack squat movement, and a similar feel to cycling). Five 30 second sprints with an 85 second active recovery break between each sprint.
Reverse Lunges: 3x12
Straight Leg Dead lift: 3x12
Barbell Squats 1x20
C Day: Chest/Shoulders & Triceps (Since October, the only part of this day I've been able to do is the BO Lateral Raises & Tricep Cable Press Downs):
Flat Bench: 5x10
Incline Bench: 3x20
Standing OHP: 5x5
Bent Over Lateral Raises 3x12 & 1xmax
Tricep Cable Press Down with Bar: 5x12
Tricep Cable Press Down with Rope: 5x12
(these two are done as supersets)
D Day: Cardio Day:
Elliptical Sprints exactly as described on leg day (with a longer warmup)
Immediately followed by Straight Leg Dead Lifts (light weights/ high reps)
Target BPM is between 120 - 150 ~~~ the BPMs during the last half of the sprints are well above the anaerobic threshold, but quickly come down into the aerobic range during the recovery phase.
@ Tom: This is when I get confused ~~~~ When I first got on here, I posted my workouts (to get feedback on why I wasn't growing), and many people thought I was crazy because "I was doing too much volume," "too many sets," "working out too often," etc."
So I was encouraged to "eat more" and workout less, take a look at Starting Strength, etc. ~~~ I took this advice, and it did make all my numbers jump. Had I not injured my shoulder, and herniated my disk a couple of times a year (this is as consistent as the setting of the sun ~ and comes without warning ~ and once when I sneezed) ~ anyway, I'm sure I'd be well ahead of where I'm at now. That said, now, the forum advice has changed and intensity and volume seem to be in vogue. I say all that to say this: that it has become hard for this 45 year old to find the balance of "intensity that leads to growth, but does not lead to injury, or burnout."
Originally Posted by Iplan
I would not use volume or frequency as your primary gauge for intensity, as that can be misleading. Training with high intensity can be different for each individual based on a number of variables.
When I train with high intensity I will usually do one all-out set on a compound movement, and then typically a couple of sets to failure on isolation or accessory movements - but in those cases the reason for failure is typically muscular endurance rather than absolute strength.
Intensity can still be reached with volume or frequency meaning that if you wanted to perform 15 sets of squats with your bodyweight it would get pretty intense as you progress through the workout even though the load is not overly heavy for a lot of experienced lifters.
I would recommend looking at what you are trying to accomplish and then setting up your goals from there. Eating more and training less could work great for strength gains but would not be an optimal program for someone who is simply looking to improve body composition.
You may want to read up on 'auto-regulation' - basically they are programs that adjust based on how you feel and perform on that given day. If you are feeling strong then you can push the envelope, and if things do not feel right then you simply look to get some value out of the session.
Hope this helps...