You need to know how to find your optimal workout intensity.
This is different for everyone and you need to experiment to see how much your body can take.
You know those once per week split routines we've talked about throughout this site?
Well, many of those programs have you train to failure and beyond.
The reasoning behind those programs is that you need to completely trash each and every muscle group once per week and let the muscle recover for a full week.
This trashing of the muscle is usually not done by increasing the amount of weight lifted as it is by trying to increase the intensity of the workout with different methods (supersets, drop sets, giant sets, etc).
The goal of most once per week training programs is muscle fatigue.
This fact alone tells me that the program is flawed. Muscle fatigue is not important compared to the relative load applied to the muscle. Focus on muscle fatigue instead of increasing the load, and you are doomed for failure.
It just doesn't work as well as what we recommend within the WLC System.
Training to Failure is Not Necessary
I am stating this as clearly as possible. You do not have to train to failure and fight through every workout as if it were your last second on Earth.
You do not have to do endless drop sets, supersets, rest/pause sets, 21's, or any of those other methods designed to fatigue the muscle.
Some of these methods do build muscle and help you to apply the muscle building stimulus that you need, but you do not have to go to failure and beyond every single workout.
For example, rest/pause sets can really help you to build strength very fast while also providing a muscle building stimulus. BUT, you must know how to use them correctly.
The point of rest/pause sets are to help you do more reps with a heavy load (not focused on fatigue). And that's why the rest/pause method works when implemented correctly.
The workouts that have no purpose but to wear you down are the types of workouts sure to overtrain you faster than anything else.
You've Got to Focus on Getting Stronger
You will find out why building strength is important as you read through the WLC System.
Going to failure each and every workout can get very tiring, and it will lead to overtraining much quicker than programs that do not require you to go to failure each and every workout.
Trust me on this one. For the natural trainer, high intensity training to failure programs are very tough on the body.
Overtraining can occur in as little as 3 to 4 weeks on these programs designed for the drug assisted trainer.
You will simply beat yourself down physically and mentally with these programs until you are forced to take time off and lose much of the progress you've made.
I've been there and done that too many times. I don't want you to go through that same failure.
Training Intensity with the WLC System
With the WLC System, you will not wear yourself down physically and mentally.
You will be mentally and physically fresh for every workout so that you can apply your maximum effort towards every set.
When I say maximum effort, I do not mean to go to utter and complete failure on every set.
For the majority of the WLC System workout programs, you will do reps until the exercise movement begins to slow down. For example, let's say you are doing barbell curls. A typical set on WLC will stop as soon as the rep speed slows down.
As you become more experienced, you will learn the optimal intensity for your body and you may increase the intensity as your body can handle it.
The speed of the rep will begin to slow down, and that's when you will stop — for now.
This keeps you away from failure and keeps you fresh while still applying a proper muscle building stimulus through other techniques.
Some people can handle more than others and can go to failure more often than others while still making great progress. But, you'll learn more about your recovery abilities as you gain experience.
Until You Gain Experience, STOP When the Rep Speed Slows
For now, you need to stop when the rep speed slows down. This allows you to work the muscle group more often and make better progress.
You can experiment with higher intensities as you gain experience.
Remember, the most important factor in building muscle is applying the proper stimulus by increasing the load to your muscles each and every workout. This is the focus of the WLC System.
Training intensity and inducing muscle fatigue is not the focus of WLC.
Intensity techniques can be useful for building muscle, but they must not interfere with your ability to add weight to the bar every workout.