Weight Lifting
February 19, 2004 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Weight lifting: I'm doing the Super Slow Motion thing and I've got a question regarding muscle failure... Do I go until I fail once, or is it OK to do the next rep after going to fail and backing down?

I lift on machines (MedX), and usually go about 6 20 second reps (10 up, 10 down) for 2 minutes total. As I understand, I should go until I can't lift the weight all the way through the rep, and then quit. Hopefully that's rep 6.

However, if I'm on rep 5 and I lift 80% of the way through my range of motion and reach muscle failure (can't go no further). After 10 seconds of lowering the weights, should I go to 60% range of motion for lift 6? Or just call it quits.

I'm basically wondering if I'm actually reaching muscle failure, or if I should be moving up to a heavier load?

Also, I find that I'm progressing quickly in some areas, and not-at-all in others. Best bet is to back off the weight in the not-at-all areas even though I'm not reaching muscle failure in 2:30?
posted by daver to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I'm not sure what the correct answer is, but do you weight lift at home or at a club because most clubs have people who are trained to know about things like this.
posted by jmd82 at 10:20 PM on February 19, 2004

I have a good question, I lift 3 times a week to 150 pounds (I dont have any more weights, still hard for me but its getting much easier) and I jog two to three times a week. Should I lift, then jog? Or vise versa? What is best for my slow metabolic system? (Weight loss)
posted by Keyser Soze at 10:21 PM on February 19, 2004

I used to do "negatives" (superslow on the downward arc) with my biceps, and found that on the last couple (#7 or #8) there wasn't much resistance left in my arms. You might want to get a spotter to help on the last couple, so you can finish, because *without* doing those last two, i didn't have that "worn out" feeling. Like trharlan said, after a couple weeks, do soemthing different (I've been out of the loop, so I'm not sure what "periodizing" means). Neg curls only worked for me for about three weeks at a time.

Keyser: I've heard that it's better do lift first, then finish the muscles off with your cardio. If you do cardio first, you won't be able to lift effectively.
posted by notsnot at 10:23 PM on February 19, 2004

Lift, then cardio. Helps dissipate the soreness.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:22 AM on February 20, 2004

I had read that you should do whichever was your main focus first, so that you would have the most energy for that which you are most interested in. So if you're trying to bulk up, weights then cardio. If you're trying to lose weight, cardio then weights. Personally, I think that unless you're moving into competitive fitness or body building--in which case you should have a personal trainer to ask--it really doesn't matter.
posted by jennyb at 7:34 AM on February 20, 2004

If you can do another rep, then I would contend that you are not going to true failure. True failure means that your muscles are at the point where lifting another rep is physically impossible. This is from a HIT (high intensity training) perspective, so I am unsure if SS protocol defines failure in a different way. Google HIT and read some of the articles for more information.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 10:07 AM on February 20, 2004

I had read that you should do whichever was your main focus first, so that you would have the most energy for that which you are most interested in.

This is what I've always done. Ran cross country and track in high school and we always weight lifted, but always after running for that exact reason, as did all the other schools that weight lifted.
posted by jmd82 at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2004

Response by poster: Hey CoolHand,

I'm getting to the point where I can't move the weight any further on the upswing while maintaining proper form. It feels to me as if I'm at the weakest point in the motion: perhaps I've recruited other muscles for the first half of the motion and as I've pass out of the range of their contribution I'm stuck with only the weaker movers.

I'm hitting this specifically on back extension, abs, and hip ad/abductors.
posted by daver at 12:41 PM on February 20, 2004

If you can do another rep, then I would contend that you are not going to true failure

Let me clarify, when I say 'do another rep' that means even a partial rep. When I lifting, I break it down into quarters, so if I go 6.25 one workout my goal is to go 6.5 or more next workout. I always to add more reps or weight every workout.

As for the not progressing areas (this really applies to all areas), try switching it up, variety will not only keep you interested in working out, but it will keep your body from getting used to a standard set of excercises.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 12:44 PM on February 20, 2004


As someone who used to really be into this stuff (yes, I know Ken Hutchins)....and predate him as well...

Once you fail, you've achieved the job you set out for. Waiting, you recover. You'll progress quickly as your become neurologically capable of learning how to perform the work, then it will all slow down.

While the MedX machines are by far the best out there, you'll tend to make progress faster in larger muscle groups (due to the ability of your lever arms (your arm/legs) to perform work) vs. the ratio of the resistance. In other words, 2 ft-lbs for your legs is significantly less than 2 ft lbs for your arms as your legs are much better geared for work.

if you plateau, try doing less work - not more. I'm down to five or so exercises every five days. More than that, and I can't recover between workouts.

When I fail (only possible during the positive motion), I continue the count to 20. Sometimes I actually finish the rep (very slowly). Except of course since it occurred in greater than 12 seconds I don't count it (as my form is no longer perfect).

All that work was for that failure rep anyway. Hopefully you're working with a workout partner that is encouraging you as you workout.

Of the exercise you mention being weakest at: the MedX exercise back machine (vs. the therapy machine) is less than perfect having no counterbalance for gravity. And these are very small muscles. Your abs have been working hard the entire workout. You probably don't need to be working them as directly as you think. And Ab/Adductor work is overrated; again these are some very small muscles (although Abduction involves the Gluteal group).

Other notes: I have real problems with the link that tharlan posted. The goals of bodybuilders and powerlifters, are, well stupid. One is how to look good through drugs, the other is how to throw as much weight as possible (Increasing your bench by 50 lbs!).

Just get stronger, steady progress - Safe Sensible exercise.

Daver- how many exercise are you doing? How much rest are you getting?
posted by filmgeek at 7:09 PM on February 20, 2004

Response by poster: I'm exercising twice a week, 6 exercises on Friday, 7 on tuesday. Not much stressful activity inbetween.

The back machine I'm using is the one which has the 'dial-down' knee supports and foot plates. Is this the back machine or the therapy machine?
posted by daver at 8:13 PM on February 20, 2004


It's the health club machine. It's better than any of the other back machines on the market, but it's not the therapy machine. You physically need someone to strap you into and get you out of that.

See what happens if you drop to every fourth day (yeah, it's a pain for weekly exercise.
posted by filmgeek at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2004

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