The notion of "no pain no gain" should be long banished from the fitness scene, especially so if you want constant improvement.
I am sure for those who train with friends in typical commercial gyms, tend to hear boast of "I just did 20 sets of legs and was completely destroyed" or "Last week, I did a giant set of A, B, C, D, E and my legs were sore for 7 days! It was a great workout". It is not wrong to train this way once in awhile but I would say only if you deserve to do it. As with carbs, you need to deserve it.
When you train to failure and beyond failure each time, you not only risk chronic adrenal fatigue which leads to inflammation (and a whole host of things) it negatively affects your aesthetics as well (I'll elaborate on this the next time). In addition, you will also miss out on hypertrophic stimulus which you could have gained instead of deloading.
By training at a volume close to a Minimal Effective Volume (MEV) just enough to elicit hypertrophic response, you create a gradual build up of accumulation which can be extended for weeks on end, meaning it gives you 2-3 more weeks of continuous gains to fill your cup.
The analogy is this, picture filling a cup that is half full and picture a cup empty. The cup that is half full can only have its other half filled while the cup that is empty has the entire capacity to be filled. By going to failure at maximal volume from day 1, you are filling a half filled cup. By start with lower volumes just enough to elicit hypertrophic response, you are filling an empty cup.
If you are following a sound program, a proper deload after an accumulation phase is needed. That will be 7 days training at maintenance volume without improvements.
1) Accumulate 3 weeks and deload 1 week = 12 weeks of no progress
2) Accumulate 6 weeks and deload 1 week = 8 weeks of no progress
If you have been training like the former, you are missing out on 4 weeks of continued progress per year. Take note that studies have shown that hypertrophy happens every single session, it depends on whether or not you are doing what it takes to continually improve, such as taking the right supplements, sleeping well and being in a caloric surplus, etc.
There are two ways in which you can ensure that you are recruiting all fibers during training for hypertrophic response.
1) Lifting anything >80%
2) Lifting a light load to muscular failure
I will be using the former (lifting >80%) as an example -
Accumulation using heavy loads (80%) for functional hypertrophy
Week 1-6: Complete 1 rep before technical failure
Order Exercise Tempo Sets Reps Rest
A1 Double Kettlebell Military Press 42x0 3 4-6 120s
A2 Weighted Pull Up (Pronated Grip) 42x0 3 4-6 120s
You should only train as much as you need for a response. Don't be afraid to start at a lower point, stimulate not annihilate. Trust the process and you will be well on your way to the physique/performance you desire.
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