The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Its no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
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    Lifting to failure

    Are you not meant to lift to failure on every set? I just read this on the starting strength FAQ:

    "The way the "first day" is explained in Starting Strength, the trainee warms up with the bar, then adds a bit of weight and does a set of 5. The bar speed will be identical from set to set. Continue to add weight and do sets of 5 until the speed of the barbell begins to slow.. Keep the weight there and perform 2 more sets with this weight. That is your first "3 sets of 5" workout for that exercise."

    I've always gone to failure on each set, which makes my reps look like 8/6/3 and stuff like that.......have I been doing it wrong the whole time..?!?

    Also another side question... I have been doing skull crushers for triceps and calf raises for calves etc in my routine. If I switch to SS practical programming will I loose the muscles I've built doing this?

    Thanks

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  3. #2
    Getting un-streamlined Progress's Avatar
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    You don't want to train to failure on every set of every lift or you'll burn out your CNS.

    Select what set/rep scheme is preferable for your goal. Then adjust the respective weight to fit that scheme.

    The explanation you quoted is how to determine what the weight will be for your first working set of 3x5 on the SS program.

    Are you raising/lowering the intensity each set when you've trained to failure?

    As to your last question, as long as your diet is sufficient, you shouldn't lose any size in your arms. You can throw in some calf work at the end of every other workout day as well as ab work if you want.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Sensei's Avatar
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    Training to failure is fine as a method to use once in a great while, but definitely not on a ongoing basis.
    A child does not learn to squat from the top down. In other words, he does not suddenly make a conscious decision one day to squat. Actually, he is squatting one day and make the conscious decision to stand. Squatting precedes standing in the developmental sequence. This is the way a child's brain learns to use the body as the child develops movement patterns. Therefore, a child is probably crawling, rocks back into a squatting position with the back completely relaxed and the hips completely flexed, and stands when he has enough hip strength. This approach makes a lot of sense and can be applied to relearning the deep squat movement if it is lost. -Gray Cook
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  5. #4
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    Ok, so the best thing to do is 3 sets of 5, with failure only occuring on the last rep of the last set?

  6. #5
    Getting un-streamlined Progress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greemah View Post
    Ok, so the best thing to do is 3 sets of 5, with failure only occuring on the last rep of the last set?
    Failure should occur on the 6th rep of each set. You only train to 5 reps.

  7. #6
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    So you should never actually reach failure on any set?

  8. #7
    Getting un-streamlined Progress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greemah View Post
    So you should never actually reach failure on any set?
    Read Sensei's post.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Training to failure is fine as a method to use once in a great while, but definitely not on a ongoing basis.
    I've been confused on this point for a few months. So, we're supposed to train at high intensity, but we're not supposed to train to failure? It seems like an oxymoron to me. In my mind, intensity = lifting heavy, training to failure and not taking too long between sets -- am I wrong here?

  10. #9
    Getting un-streamlined Progress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlew View Post
    I've been confused on this point for a few months. So, we're supposed to train at high intensity, but we're not supposed to train to failure? It seems like an oxymoron to me. In my mind, intensity = lifting heavy, training to failure and not taking too long between sets -- am I wrong here?
    So training 5 reps, when a sure failure (meaning not being able to perform a complete rep) on the 6th rep, is not intense enough for you?

    Failure is failure. Think about it. You can get plenty strong without failing on a rep.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlew View Post
    I've been confused on this point for a few months. So, we're supposed to train at high intensity, but we're not supposed to train to failure? It seems like an oxymoron to me. In my mind, intensity = lifting heavy, training to failure and not taking too long between sets -- am I wrong here?
    Lifting heavy is a must, would you rather be say benching 100 lbs. 20 or more times or put up 300 a couple.

    No one is gonna take it seriously, lift big and heavy, and stick to an already proven routine.

    Don't train to failure on every set, or at all unless need be.

  12. #11
    Daddy K.
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    [QUOTE=greemah;2172293

    Also another side question... I have been doing skull crushers for triceps and calf raises for calves etc in my routine. If I switch to SS practical programming will I loose the muscles I've built doing this?

    Thanks[/QUOTE]


    No you won't lose your muscles on SS. You don't need all that extra ISO lifts with SS. It's all compound movements so it is not needed.

  13. #12
    Cock-Diesel Bound Optimum08's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensei View Post
    Training to failure is fine as a method to use once in a great while, but definitely not on a ongoing basis.
    Yep.
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  14. #13
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    i usually lift to failure on my last set, thats probably the wrong thing to do but i love it! releases all that anger!

  15. #14
    Getting un-streamlined Progress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Banger View Post
    i usually lift to failure on my last set, thats probably the wrong thing to do but i love it! releases all that anger!
    How does failing release anger? I get more pissed when I fail. Plus, who wants to have someone else lift the bar off of them?

  16. #15
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    I train to failure on every set, and I've never had better gains.


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  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progress View Post
    How does failing release anger? I get more pissed when I fail. Plus, who wants to have someone else lift the bar off of them?
    well its not failing as-such as your lifting past your normal capabilities, your pushing up to your limits, you need every ounce of anger and strength to reach failure


    like smashing the granny out of a punchbag

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jAy_Dub View Post
    I train to failure on every set, and I've never had better gains.
    But it is not that simple Jay. There is more to it than that. The majority of the individuals on this site don't need to train to failure to see great gains. If one does want to train to failure, it needs to be structured correctly or it will hinder you more than it will help you.

  19. #18
    Getting un-streamlined Progress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Banger View Post
    well its not failing as-such as your lifting past your normal capabilities, your pushing up to your limits, you need every ounce of anger and strength to reach failure


    like smashing the granny out of a punchbag
    I have no idea what you just said.

  20. #19
    Determined jAy_Dub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joey54 View Post
    But it is not that simple Jay. There is more to it than that. The majority of the individuals on this site don't need to train to failure to see great gains. If one does want to train to failure, it needs to be structured correctly or it will hinder you more than it will help you.
    Yeah you're definitely right. I was just trying to get a reaction out of someone lol, since most were saying it should be avoided for the most part.


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  21. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jAy_Dub View Post
    Yeah you're definitely right. I was just trying to get a reaction out of someone lol, since most were saying it should be avoided for the most part.
    Not a problem. Open discussion is best for the board. This stuff isn't written in stone and there are different ways to get it done. The road one wants to travel depends on where they want to go.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Progress View Post
    I have no idea what you just said.
    I concur.
    "The only easy day was yesterday."

  23. #22
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    Keep in mind there are different definitions of "failure" as well.

    Some people define it as thinking they can't do another rep in good form.

    Some people define it as not being able to do another rep in good form.

    Some people define it as thinking they can't get another rep regardless of form

    Some people define it as not being able to get another rep regardless of form

    Some people define it as not being able to move the bar at all (even if the last rep was only a 2 inch ROM

    Some people define it in conjunction with drop sets and go all the way down to where they can't even move the bar by itself.

    IMNSHO all except the first two should be used sparingly.
    The next two should not be used at all (some slight cheating may be acceptable,) but if form is deteriorating badly, you're asking for an injury.
    And the last two should be used with a capable spotter.

    All should be done with a power rack except in those cases (like a row) where you can simply put the bar down after hitting failure.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 07-15-2009 at 10:40 PM.

  24. #23
    WBB's Juggernaut/Liason BigCorey75's Avatar
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    hahah this is ridiculous


    Dude, you should never train to failure,

    There is an old saying if you train to failure, your training to fail. Success begets success and failure begets failure.

    Most people need to learn to lift and learn to perform movements by firing neural patterns to complete movements, and these are best used when the body is fresh and primed and ready to go for a set, and once that form breaks, your no longer being efficient nor using your biggest and strongest muscle fibers, so your form sucks and your not optimally using your muscles optimally therefore you wont get optimal results, your better leaving three reps in the hole, stopping and doing another set later. So not only is training to failure useless its counter productive

    A lot of people like that failure crap because they feel they push their bodies to the max, and they get that pump, that tightness, that burn, which makes you feel great or in the words of the Governator "makes me feel like im cummin". Here is a little knowledge for you, the reason your muscles feel tight and stiff after a good pump, is the same reason a corpse is stiff. Muscles are like mouse traps, they go off by themselves but need energy to reset so they can contract again and ATP is this energy source that lets it contract again. A dead body is out of ATP which stiffens the muscles and makes the body stiff, so basically a good pump is very similar to premature rigor mortis.

    have fun


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  25. #24
    DeaTH BeFoRe WeaKNeSs sCaRz*Of*PaiN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigCorey75 View Post
    hahah this is ridiculous


    Dude, you should never train to failure,

    There is an old saying if you train to failure, your training to fail. Success begets success and failure begets failure.

    Most people need to learn to lift and learn to perform movements by firing neural patterns to complete movements, and these are best used when the body is fresh and primed and ready to go for a set, and once that form breaks, your no longer being efficient nor using your biggest and strongest muscle fibers, so your form sucks and your not optimally using your muscles optimally therefore you wont get optimal results, your better leaving three reps in the hole, stopping and doing another set later. So not only is training to failure useless its counter productive

    A lot of people like that failure crap because they feel they push their bodies to the max, and they get that pump, that tightness, that burn, which makes you feel great or in the words of the Governator "makes me feel like im cummin". Here is a little knowledge for you, the reason your muscles feel tight and stiff after a good pump, is the same reason a corpse is stiff. Muscles are like mouse traps, they go off by themselves but need energy to reset so they can contract again and ATP is this energy source that lets it contract again. A dead body is out of ATP which stiffens the muscles and makes the body stiff, so basically a good pump is very similar to premature rigor mortis.

    have fun


    if u want to feel the burn light a match- fred hatfield aka Dr. Squat
    /end thread
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  26. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigCorey75 View Post
    hahah this is ridiculous


    Dude, you should never train to failure,

    There is an old saying if you train to failure, your training to fail. Success begets success and failure begets failure.

    Most people need to learn to lift and learn to perform movements by firing neural patterns to complete movements, and these are best used when the body is fresh and primed and ready to go for a set, and once that form breaks, your no longer being efficient nor using your biggest and strongest muscle fibers, so your form sucks and your not optimally using your muscles optimally therefore you wont get optimal results, your better leaving three reps in the hole, stopping and doing another set later. So not only is training to failure useless its counter productive

    A lot of people like that failure crap because they feel they push their bodies to the max, and they get that pump, that tightness, that burn, which makes you feel great or in the words of the Governator "makes me feel like im cummin". Here is a little knowledge for you, the reason your muscles feel tight and stiff after a good pump, is the same reason a corpse is stiff. Muscles are like mouse traps, they go off by themselves but need energy to reset so they can contract again and ATP is this energy source that lets it contract again. A dead body is out of ATP which stiffens the muscles and makes the body stiff, so basically a good pump is very similar to premature rigor mortis.

    have fun


    if u want to feel the burn light a match- fred hatfield aka Dr. Squat

    Depending on the definitions of failure I used, this is either quite correct or very wrong. Which makes it hard to argue against, except that I would say that absolute generalizations like "you should never train to failure (without even defining failure) should never be made, as there is always somebody who can prove that wrong.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 07-14-2009 at 09:19 PM.

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