Hello faithful YouTube viewers! This is Sam Ridgeway with Live Like a Viking. Today I want to talk to you about Intensity when lifting weights. The question being, “Do you lift to failure or not?” Let’s get to it.
My entire lifting career has consisted of the mentality, “If every set isn’t done to failure, I’m cheating myself. I’m wasting my time.” And it’s served me well. I grew bigger and I grew stronger over the years. But as I get older and wiser, I reflect and reevaluate various principles in my life. At 51 years old do I need to get stronger? The answer is No. Do I want to look better naked? The answer to that question is Yes. So my priorities have changed. I’m more interested in the look than the functionality. Does it really matter if you can actually lift 500 pounds as long as you look like you can? I would argue No.
In order to get stronger you need to stress the muscles. There’s no better way to do that than to lift heavy; get 3 to 5 reps in with as much weight as you can. Do you think that’s good on a 51 year old body? Probably not. One injury can take someone my age out of the game for years. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to chance that. You’re putting incredible stress on you joints and ligaments and they’re getting older too. They don’t recover like they used to and they aren’t as strong as they once were.
The answer is lighter weights, in the 10 to 15 range. And we don’t go to failure until the very last set. If you’re doing 3 sets, go about 80% on the first two… like where you could probably get 2 more reps if you really had to and stop when you get there. Then go to failure on your last set… and by that I mean Technical Failure.
The difference between Technical Failure and Physical Failure is with Technical Failure, you go until your form is compromised. With Physical Failure you go until you physically can’t complete the rep, regardless of proper form. You should never go to Physical Failure. You’re just asking for injury. Rocking back and forth, throwing your hips up to get one more rep, jerking the weight… you’re not going to last long if you lift like that. It’s far better to go at 80% and get 20 more years out of this thing than to go at 100% and sustain an injury in 3 years.
So what are the results when lifting like this? I’ve been feeling stronger, I repair faster, my muscles feel fuller. I feel like a beast in the gym. A lot of this is due to less strain on my central nervous system. You’re not just working your muscles when you lift… you’re taxing your central nervous system too. If your central nervous system is fried, you might as well go home and take a nap because the rest of your workout is worthless. It also allows me to train the same muscles more often. I do a full push day, then a cardio and ab day. A full pull day and then a cardio and ab day. A full leg day, and after I finish legs, I do one set of each of my push and pull routines. I also sprinkle a calf workout or two throughout the week because you can work calves more often than quads and hamstrings. I end the week with a cardio and ab day and the routine starts all over again.
So to summarize this video, do not go to failure on every set, go about 80% on every set except for your last one. And never go to Physical Failure. When your form starts to become compromised, you’re finished. Put the weight down. Using these principles will give you many more years in the gym, you’ll still make gains, and you’ll mitigate your chance of injury.
Well, that’s it for today. Questions, comments, suggestions… leave them below. And remember, you’re never too Old to Live Like A Viking.