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Old 11-24-09, 01:56 PM   #1
njlonghorn
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weight lifting to exhaustion

I'm wondiering whether one of my weight-lifting techniques, which I've been using for years, is a bad idea.

I'll pick a weight that I can do 12-15 reps, and do that to exhaustion. I'll then drop the weight down 15-25% or so, and immediately do that weight to exhaustion (usually 5-10 reps). Depending on how I feel, I may drop down another 15-25% and push to exhaustion a third time. I've never gone a fourth round, but I have thought about it.

I usually do this only for the bigger muscle groups (quads, hammies, glutes, pecs, delts), but occasionally I'll do it for the calves, biceps, or abs.

I use this tecnique because my goal is muscle endurance, not bulk. But am I risking injury by pushing too hard? Is there a better way to accomplish what I'm trying to do?
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Old 11-24-09, 02:10 PM   #2
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IMO that's a great way to do it. The fact that you're asking about injury, yet have been doing it for years, makes me think you haven't been injured or you would have already changed. I think it very unlikely to produce an injury, unless you just screw up and do a lift incorrectly, same as any program. That's really going to poop you out, which will cut down on the intensity, duration, or frequency of your aerobic work, but that balance depends on your goals, strengths, and weaknesses. "Early season" like this, I work on my weaknesses.
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Old 11-24-09, 02:46 PM   #3
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No one approach is the be all and end all. A variation on that is this... 1/3 up. 1/3 down, 2/3 up, 1/3 down, 2/3 up, 1/3 down, 1/3 up and all the way down. Repeat til you can't go any more.

I will do that once in a while.

As I go heavier I will do fewer reps. About once a month I will 'cement' the gains with a high rep exercise session.

I go to exhaustion once in a while when I feel like it. Not often.
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Old 11-24-09, 03:03 PM   #4
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I agree with others. And what a coincidence - I was taught the same technique by my personal trainer a few years back. I've since reversed it and used heavier weights and lower reps to exhaustion in the same session.
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Old 11-24-09, 04:25 PM   #5
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I agree with others. And what a coincidence - I was taught the same technique by my personal trainer a few years back. I've since reversed it and used heavier weights and lower reps to exhaustion in the same session.
That is what I was told to do and that is what I was doing.
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Old 11-24-09, 04:27 PM   #6
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the past year or so I've been doing a 5x5 routine with fixed weights. but my goals are different than yours. I had been weight training for years without ever seeing my body transform, now with the 5x5 I'm very happy to see some dramatic changes. it's hard going backwards though, especially after age 50 - if I was smarter younger I would have done what I'm doing now when I was 30
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Old 11-26-09, 11:55 PM   #7
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I don't believe you can train for endurance with weights. It takes a lot of repetitions to train for endurance. Weights are more beneficial for explosive actions rather than passive.
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Old 11-27-09, 03:10 PM   #8
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Isometrics tend to put strain on the joints.

Google plyometrics.
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Old 11-27-09, 04:56 PM   #9
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Here it is again, folks, the scientific comparison of various methods of HIIT on endurance, power, sprinting, etc:
http://www.sportsci.org/jour/04/Append1
Be sure to go all the way to the end to see the results in the appendices.

The short version: ordinary weight training has almost no effect on any markers. Interval training beats everything. The only type of weight training tested that showed results was 4 sets of 30 reps, done explosively. Plyometrics was also shown to be beneficial. However, these studies need to be interpreted carefully. They were done on trained athletes. Results of these techniques on untrained or less trained athletes will probably be different.

Not to say that weight training not valuable. There are many health benefits and weight training has been shown to improve economy in some studies.
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Old 11-28-09, 01:02 PM   #10
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The theory I follow, as far as weights are concerned, is that training to failure does nothing but teach your muscles how to fail. Sometimes its good, but consistently wearing yourself out will do more to make you never want to lift again than teaching your muscles how to deal with stress.
You dont HAVE to lift a certain weight for a number of reps in a number of sets. It all depends on your goals, and what type of muscle fiber you are wishing to train. You could do endurance lifting, lifting a weight you can handle to a slow count for a long number of reps for many sets, or you could focus on explosive movements, lifting heaver and faster for a shorter amount of time (within your ability to control the weight and keep proper form). Or just focus on strength, trying to lift as heavy as possible and just get the set done.
But your goal should never be to rip yourself open, just like with cycling. In a race, you dont plan to blow up on hills, you plan to get over them and keep going. I train with weights as such, and progress for me comes much faster than training to failure every time. Plus, it makes it less mentally challenging to start doing knowing that I am going to be in control and stop before failure.
My two cents.
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Old 11-29-09, 02:17 AM   #11
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To the OP: what you describe are "drop sets." This is a technique used by bodybuilders to fatigue a muscle group as much as possible. It is just one way of doing things, though. If you always do the same thing, you will stop getting results. I would suggest you rotate this system with others. Supersets, pyramids, reverse pyramids...there are many ways to shake up lifting. You do not want it to be "routine."

Lifting a given weight faster (leaning toward plyometrics here...) probably involves less work, actually It takes more work to accelerate it initially (since you're doing it more quickly) but your muscles are less engaged throughout the rest of the motion.

Classically, 10 reps has been considered a balance of training muscular strength and endurance. To translate to cycling, your lifting has to be specific to cycling. Eventually, the joint angles, degrees of motion, and speeds of motion should all be in the ballpark of something you might encounter on the bike. Hence, progressing from eccentric phase-accentuating tempi to ones more focused on concentric and explosive motions makes sense.

I'd also add that volitional fatigue, or just (one rep) short of it, is what you're typically after in lifting. This isn't the same as outright failure if the muscle. You don't actually need to try to kill yourself to get results, and you may find the opposite to be true.
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Old 11-30-09, 04:08 PM   #12
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I don't lift like that. I take it to my set reps and then quit. If I do anything I add another set of reps.
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Old 12-01-09, 02:29 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by *****3nin.vend3t View Post
*snip*

"Is there a better way to accomplish what I'm trying to do?"

I will tell you what you could try, Isometric/static Training. Read up on it. An advanced training technique designed to generate high intensity by maximizing weight while minimizing hold times. How this is done is by holding on to the muscle's particular position for an extended amount of time (typically five to fifteen seconds) to give the muscle a new way of training and experience a different load. You will get very good results (strength) while minimizing bulk.

Good luck.
Isometrics can be useful, and they do increase strength. They are better than dynamic methods for building strength, but only across the same joint angles at which they are done. Across the whole ROM, concentric/eccentric wins. Cyclists do not need to build the skill of resisting without motion.
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Old 12-20-09, 12:53 AM   #14
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+1 Tadawdy.

P.S. Evanston... hmmmmm.... my old stomping grounds for bike riding when I lived in Chicago and started what I thought were my "long rides". I still have that yammering for the midwest.

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Old 12-20-09, 09:59 AM   #15
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Muscle endurance and strength are not as separate as many seem the think.

If, for instance, the maximum amount of weight you can squat once is 225, you may be able to do10 reps with 155 which it 69 % of your max. Continuing to build endurance by doing high reps is swell, but the amount of force you can create for sustained periods is somewhat proportionate to the maximum amount of force you can create. If you have a short term goal of being able to do 155 15 times, then it would help to get strong enough to lift 250 once because 155 would then only be 62% of maximum strength.

One thing that also deserves mention, I think, is that the 8-10 rep range is often what many body builders consider the sweat spot for building mass. If you are trying to gain both strength and endurance without too much extra mass, it might be a good idea to do most of your work in the 3-6 ranges for strength, and the 12-18 ranges for endurance. Save the mass building middle ranges for special occasions.
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Old 12-21-09, 02:27 PM   #16
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Then the strongest cyclists would be the best endurance riders. This is clearly not the case. Sprinters are good at sprints, Pursuiters are good at pursuits and Roadies are good at road. Theo Bos was World Champ in Sprint, Kilo and Keirin but has shifted to road losing a lot of mass to handle riding 160-250km races. Brad Wiggins lost 7kg from his 3 x Olympic Track Cycling Gold Medallist body and is now a Tour de France contender. The Australian Track Cycling team chased peak strength in the gym as well as peak power and speed yet having the highest peak powers and speed over 1-5sec didn't help them in actual competition over 15-61sec against the Brits and French whose training was focused on the actual event.
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Old 12-22-09, 12:19 PM   #17
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Then the strongest cyclists would be the best endurance riders. This is clearly not the case. Sprinters are good at sprints, Pursuiters are good at pursuits and Roadies are good at road. Theo Bos was World Champ in Sprint, Kilo and Keirin but has shifted to road losing a lot of mass to handle riding 160-250km races. Brad Wiggins lost 7kg from his 3 x Olympic Track Cycling Gold Medallist body and is now a Tour de France contender. The Australian Track Cycling team chased peak strength in the gym as well as peak power and speed yet having the highest peak powers and speed over 1-5sec didn't help them in actual competition over 15-61sec against the Brits and French whose training was focused on the actual event.
That's all true. Scientific studies have shown that conventional weight training makes very little, if any difference in cycling speed or power, and may decrease VO2max. This has also been my experience. So if you want to ride faster or further, there are definitely better ways to spend your time and energy.
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Old 01-06-10, 10:39 AM   #18
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But am I risking injury by pushing too hard? Is there a better way to accomplish what I'm trying to do?
Personal best bench: 405 x 2 reps
Personal best deadlift: 500x2 reps

90% of how you look (ie. size) is determined by what you eat. Take a look at bodybuilding.com and read how some professional bodybuilders look forward to their yearly ice cream cone

Dropsets are great once in a while. I don't know that I would use them too often.

For anyone following Joe Friel's methods, one corner of the triangle is force so there must be some benefit to weight lifting.
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Old 01-08-10, 11:11 AM   #19
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The theory I follow, as far as weights are concerned, is that training to failure does nothing but teach your muscles how to fail.
+1
Also, something to keep in mind is that weightlifting generally trains fast twitch muscle fibers. It sounds like your lifting may be "bodybuilding" in nature. There's nothing wrong with that (it's conventionally what is seen in weightrooms and gyms), and there's certainly some benefit to having strength in areas other than just your cycling legs. However, if your goal is endurance in your legs, then you have to train that way. You must put in the necessary hours doing aerobic base-building and training slow twitch fibers, in order to develop the proper capillary beds, mitochondria, etc. You should do some reading on exercise/cycling physiology. Chris Carmichael's book "The Ultimate Ride" does a great job explaining a few things, and is an easy read. There's a ton of great info that you can take away from that book.
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