Don't Delude Yourself About Your Exercise Performance

I just finished reading your article Hypertrophy Training For The Ectomorph and found it quite helpful. I have been trying numerous regimens from but nothing seems to work. I have been at 160-170 pounds since high school (I am now a junior in college). I am most definitely going to try the 10-8-6-15 approach after reading the article.

I had one question however: What weight should I be using for each set? Should I be aiming for failure on each and use a different weight for each? Or a comfortable weight where I can complete all sets at the same weight? Any and all insight you can give me would be much appreciated.

Thank You!
Jake C.

My Answer: Start off with your 10 rep max and increase the weight by small increments from set to set. No more than 5-10 pound increments. On your 15 rep set, you should drop the weight down to your 15 rep max. Your 10 rep max is your base weight, the weight that determines the poundages for the subsequent sets. So try to increase your base weight by small increments (again, no more than 5-10 pounds) from workout to workout.

You should train to failure on each set, but the set should end when your form breaks down. In other words, failure occurs when you cannot complete A FULL RANGE OF MOTION AT CONSTANT SPEED. If you start doing half reps, or if the speed of your reps slows down (like you're stuck in mid rep), or if you can't lift in a straight line, then you know you are reaching muscular failure and you should stop the set right then and there.

I cannot tell you how many times I've seen guys half press 135 pounds on the bench press. Partials have their place (I go over this technique in Tactics and Strategies), but a lot of guys partial press or partial squat to "show off" their supposedly heavy weights. They do partial reps to delude themselves. It's like the kid who thinks he knows how to ride a bike, but he's been riding around with training wheels the whole time.

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