A few posts back, I wrote about switching up my training routine. I’ve been training “intensely” for a little over a week now and I have already learned some lessons.

Lessons learned

1. Train weaker muscle groups first

On my first upper-body day, I started with chest and then back. Then I did shoulders, followed by biceps and triceps. This was not the right order.

My mind-muscle connection for chest and back was great. Shoulders less so. But by the time I got to biceps, my arms were already tired. I wasn’t able to get the good mind-muscle connection and there was no real pump to be had (and trust me, when you go to actual failure you will have a good pump).

The next upper-body day I essentially reversed the order by hitting the smaller muscle groups first. Arms first, then shoulders, and finally chest and back. With this new ordering, I was able to feel like I actually went to failure on each muscle group.

This makes sense, the arms are involved in the chest and back movements, so by the end, they are tired. But the chest and back movements involve lots of muscles, and the arms aren’t the main movers. So even with fatigued arms, you can still push your chest and back with the intensity you need.

2. Don’t go to the gym if you’re tired – rest and go tomorrow

When you are training with high intensity, it is crucial you have the energy to push hard all the way to failure. If you aren’t feeling 100%, you probably haven’t recovered fully and it wouldn’t be as productive to train that day.

This is a hard mindset, having come from high volume training. But when you are actually going to failure, you need to recover fully. Plus, you gain size and strength from recovering, so it should take priority.

Honestly, I am starting to wonder if this is also true of volume-training. Having gone consistently to the gym for years, I’ve seen the same people training 5+ days a week. Lots of them made little progress. I’m sure if I had been smarter about it, I could’ve progressed better as well. But I imagine there have been many periods of time where I was never fully recovered.


Overall the training seems effective. I look forward to seeing how a full block of it ends up. I’m currently cutting, so I don’t expect any muscle gain, but seeing if this reduced training can help me maintain size will be interesting.

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