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Started By MTrainer (Michigan, U.S.A.)

Started on: 12/10/2004 4:58:21 PM, viewed 1547 times
Anyone ever experiment with a sub-failure, Heavy Duty program?

First of all, let me state that I agree with Mentzer/Jones′ theory that exercise needs to be intense, brief, and infrequent. The application is where it gets tricky and what I question.

Mike Mentzer (back in 1994) told me that he thought it was possible there might be an individual out there where training to failure was to intense. He thought these types of people were very rare.

However, the more I think about it, and given the fact Darden talks about it in his new HIT book, I am thinking of using a sub-failure type routine where as I only occasionally train to positive failure.

Given I have 15 years of training experience and 13 years of it being Heavy Duty or some form of HIT, I am curious to see how this works. For the record, I did 5-6 phone consultations with Mike and used to talk to him almost every other week during the mid to late 90′s. The only time I have done sub-failure training was with volume training (8+ sets per body part).

However, I am thinking of using it with only 2-3 sets per body part — still for one set each. I have enough experience to know when I am going to reach failure, so this should be interested.

My rationale for it?

So long as progressive overload (increasing reps/weights regular) is applied, I do think shying back 1-2 reps (maybe even 3?) from failure will stimulate muscle growth. And, it might even do it optimally. I think it definitely crosses the "break-over" point.

I did make some progress using Mike′s recommendations. I used Heavy Duty I and II routines, and the consolidation routine. Also, I used a program he wanted me to experient with that is not in any of his writings (it was kind of strange!). However, the less and less frequently I trained, I felt I didn′t look quite as good.

I′ve recently been using a total body workout twice a week (ala Darden) using 8-10 exercises for one set each to failure and it has been killing me! I am finding this way too demanding and feel like I have been hit by a car the rest of night after the workout.

I′ve taken off the last two weeks from training (caught a bad cold — in part to getting run down from those Darden workouts I think).

My diet hasn′t changed during this time and I′ve lost about 1/8" on my arm during this time. I do think training a body part every 2 weeks or more is too infrequent for me. After about a week, I feel my muscles started looking a bit deflated or less full. It′s probably just fluid retention, but still. I don′t look as good this way.

So, I am thinking sub-failure will stimulate just as good, while allowing me to train more frequently since I can recover faster this way.

On any rate, has anyone here experimented with this before?

This Topic has 13 Replies: Displaying out of 13 Replies:

Analyzer (CDA, id, U.S.A.) on 12/10/2004 6:53:22 PM

So what your asking, is if anyone has done a program with 2-3 sets short of failure per body part, and very few exercises?

If so, that′s how tons of people train on the Hardgainer Roundtable. That′s how I train too. Sometimes one set, sometimes 2-3 sets. I think I′ve hit failure 4 times in the last year. It works great and I feel MUCH better. I can train more often and don′t have that crappy sick feeling afterwards.

Hope that′s what you meant,


dafortae (a, a, U.S.A.) on 12/10/2004 7:02:44 PM

Yeah, if what Analyzer is saying is what you mean, than I too have done sub-failure training. I′ve done it the past few months. I now have a "urning" to crank up the intensity again now, so I will start going to traditional failure, and beyond, for the next couple of months. I had good success with the sub-failure training, but I have this feeling it′s starting to catch up with me since I′m on so low of volume so infrequently. I need to bump the intensity back up.


MTrainer (a, a, U.S.A., Michigan, U.S.A.) on 12/10/2004 7:18:18 PM


That′s exactly what I meant. I′ve read a lot of your previously written posts and like hearing what you have to say.


I′m sure this is going to happen with me. I like training to failure. But, think sub-failure is for my own good. I certainly will use it occasionally (along with other techniques here and there).

Just curious —- how often are you guys training each muscle?

MTrainer (a, a, U.S.A., Michigan, U.S.A., Michigan, U.S.A.) on 12/10/2004 7:20:05 PM


What do your routines look like? Total body workout or split?

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