Simple question about when to stop Sets / failure


Blue Belt
Jan 9, 2008
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Hopefuly a quick question lol - Haven't done much HEAVY work recently, so a quick question - was benching near my max yesterday, and did:

1*5, added weight 1*4 (warmups really), added weight, 1*3, added weight, then 3*2. on my last set of doin 2 reps, i only JUST got the bar bk up (so i was basically finished.) is this where I shud end that exercise all together? Or is it ok after a rest to do another set of 1 or 2 reps? I think mentally because they're such short sets I always want to do another one....

It depends on what set/rep scheme you have for that day. If you intend to do, say, 5 sets of 2 reps, then you would have been wise to back off the weight a bit and get all those reps completed. If you just wanted to get three sets of heavy doubles in, you did it just right.

Unless you are going for a personal record, you shouldn't miss lifts. Shit happens, you have a bad day, yeah you might. But most experienced guys know themselves and won't attempt weight if they don't know they can get it.
Thanks for the reply:

To b honest, I'm not strictly following something at the moment - had a broken foot so I haven't been properly trying to gain or improve etc - mainly stuff like 4*6, 3*8, 3*10 etc etc etc, my own choices or however I felt just to jus keep up with it really, using 60 sec rest periods. I always work hard and don't slack off etc.

Thought I will do a 'heavy' day where I push myself real hard, so really just went up to a weight near my max and did a few sets to work myself, with longer rests. Hence the question - I stopped because if I'd done another set I may have only been able to do one good rep for example, but there was no written goal before that aside from 'lets do some heavy lifting'.

Saying that, perhaps I need to refine my training more, I often just do what I feel / based on the time I have (I do weights at home, with a BB, DBs and a bench). As long as I'm deadlifting / benching / rowing / OHP once or twice a week I've never really been particularly botherd (rightly or wrongly lol) about what I do, I generally switch up between lighter 'bodybuilding' type days and heavy cns taxing lifts, and hit the weights 3/4 times a week.
I agree with your assesment. To maximize your training, you need to have goals to work for. Even if you just want to have a "heavy pressing" day (basically an ME workout), you should walk into the weight room saying "I'm going to work up to heaviest set of 3 reps I can handle", or something similar. You should also have an idea in your head of what number you want to hit. A degree of instinctiveness is important, but you need some sort of goal to progress towards or else you'll wind up going nowhere in the long run.

Like I said earlier, what you are doing is basically a "Maximal Effort" workout, and you can read this article to get a better idea on some ways to manage them:

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