One of the things I focus on with my training (and will continue to focus on for this upcoming prep) is effort over increasing and reps. 

I understand that a lot of people out there subscribe to the idea of having to "beat the logbook" and as much as there is nothing inherently wrong with that, it is not the only way to cause growth of muscle tissue.  Yes, beating the logbook by increasing weights and/or reps each workout is progress and this will cause muscle to grow over time.  However, too many people consider this the ONLY way to grow and there is not only one way to grow muscle tissue.

Just as we all know people who have gotten stronger over time and not grown much larger, we all know others who have not gotten bigger due to training "light", as well.  Bitch is, I doubt anyone knows even one person who trains their ass off and hasn't improved.  If you take the hardest training guy in your gym, I would bet one of my kids (but I get to pick which one) that they are growing and progressing from a physique standpoint more than most in the gym.  Why? EFFORT.  This is also known as INTENSITY.


When you take a set to failure it won't matter if you are using 275 or 315 while benching.  The body knows the stimulus; it does not know the amount of weight that is pressing against it.  To prove my point, if you trained only to roughly 60% failure but were progressing in strength from workout to workout, that would not provide anywhere near the stimulus for hypertrophy as training 100% to failure.  Failure is a stimulus that tells the muscle being trained that it needs to grow and adapt by exhausting as many muscle fibers as possible.  The closer you train to failure the more fiber recruitment you use.  The objective while training is to recruit as many muscles fibers as possible which will cause the muscle to adapt for future training sessions.

I have trained with the "beat the logbook" mentality at several points during my 34 years of training and made good progress, no doubt.  Bitch is, at some point increasing strength and/or reps will simply stop - you just cannot infinitely get stronger and do more reps forever.  On the other hand, you can always train your ass off at 100% effort and intensity for years and continue to grow.  And here comes the most important caveat: Though both methods may work equally as well for hypertrophy, the former comes with a significantly higher risk of injury than the latter.  Intensity or effort is nowhere near as likely to cause injury as simply heavy slag iron is.

Our egos enjoy lifting heavy as if some sort of "badge of courage" or a way for people to gauge their efforts against others.  I would argue that I am much more impressed with someone who trains their balls off vs. someone who is simply stronger than I am.

You can train any way you like; I am just saying that to stay in this game for my 35th year and still continue to train hard relatively injury free, I am going to be smart about it, maximizing effort over higher weights and reps.